Saturday 8 April 2023

The SNP is descending into Hell


The SNP is not a normal party. It is this that explains recent events and also events in the recent past. The SNP is the means by which Scottish nationalists hope to achieve independence. This explains everything.

Of course, there are other Scottish nationalist parties. Alba, the Scottish Greens, some small far left socialist parties. Not every independence supporter likes the SNP. Some hate it. But still the SNP is the only party that has any chance of delivering independence. Without it, Alba, the Scottish Greens etc can achieve nothing whatsoever.

Whereas Labour may have the goal of creating social democracy or even socialism and the Conservatives may have the goal of making Britain wealthier, the SNP’s goal has nothing whatsoever to do with ordinary politics. Its goal is for Scotland to leave the UK and everything else is subordinate to that goal. This too explains everything.

There are SNP gradualists and fundamentalists. There are those who want to go slowly and those who want to go quickly. There is some subterfuge about whether, for example, Nicola Sturgeon wanted each or any of the referendums she proposed would happen always next year, but I think there is no doubt that she genuinely wanted Scottish independence in 2014 and was willing to do what was necessary to achieve that goal.

Alex Salmond achieved two things that Nicola Sturgeon never came close to achieving. He was given a legal referendum and he increased support for independence by around 15 to 20%. The trajectory suggests that if the referendum in 2014 had been held in 2015 the SNP would have won. Independence supporters won more than 50% at the General Election in 2015.

But we now know that in Bute House there were already in 2014 serious allegations against Salmond. When eventually these allegations came to trial Salmond was acquitted with one verdict of not proven. But this does not change the fact that women civil servants and party members were allegedly warned not to be alone with Salmond and that nine or ten women testified against him.

Voters in 2014 knew nothing whatsoever about these allegations. But it has always stretched credibility that SNP insiders knew nothing. Why didn’t any of the women who accused Salmond in 2020 go to the police in 2014? The answer is that it would have damaged both the SNP and the chances of Yes winning the referendum in 2014.

In 2017 the Scottish Government began to receive complaints about Salmond. Nicola Sturgeon the successor as First Minister apparently was not involved in the gathering of evidence, though her husband Peter Murrell was discovered to have sent text messages such as

“Folk should be asking the police questions"

"Good time to be pressurising them.”

"The more fronts he is having to firefight on the better."


But Nicola Sturgeon supposedly knew nothing about this, and she too was essentially acquitted by the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints. She continued after its verdict just like before as if nothing had happened.

The problem with this verdict was that it was political. Those members who opposed Scottish independence clearly differed in their questioning and their assessment of Sturgeon’s guilt. Again, we have the same pattern emerging. Whatever helps the cause of Scottish independence is justified. It justifies what would normally be called immorality, perhaps even illegality.

When Salmond might have led Scotland to independence there is silence about his alleged misbehaviour, when he is no longer useful and perhaps a hindrance to the cause suddenly there are witnesses. But there are no witnesses to Sturgeon knowing anything in 2014 and no one to convict her of any misbehaviour because that would damage the cause.

The root of the SNP’s present problems is the same root as its past problems. It is a secretive organisation and both politicians and supporters are willing to do anything for the sake of the party’s goal.

Let’s look at recent events, being careful to presume that those who have been investigated by the police and talked to by the police are innocent.

Nicola Sturgeon resigned because she reached a moment when she thought it was time to go, she was drained, although only a little earlier she had been fine.

It may be that the reasons Sturgeon gave for resigning are true. But there have been a strange set of subsequent coincidences.

1 Liz Lloyd Sturgeon’s chief advisor resigns after apparently helping Humza Yousaf’s campaign.

2 Murray Foote SNP Chief of Communications resigns because he was misled about SNP membership figures.

3 Peter Murrell resigns because he accepts responsibility for misleading the public about the membership figures.

4 John Swinney resigns as Deputy First Minister after 16 years.

5 Peter Murrell is arrested and interviewed by the police and released without charge,

6 The SNP appoint a white-collar crime expert lawyer, though Humza Yousaf says, “no current staff members are under any suspicion of wrongdoing.”

7 The SNP’s auditors quit.


But all these dominoes falling apparently have nothing whatsoever to do with Sturgeon resigning. It’s all just a coincidence.

But something clearly did happen when Sturgeon resigned. We have had a brutal leadership contest. There have been suggestions that the contest should be rerun because if SNP members knew what they do now they would vote differently. Continuity doesn’t look quite as attractive as it did when Sturgeon resigned. Change looks more needed.

What we need to know is if Sturgeon knew when she resigned that there might be a problem with the party’s membership figures. Did Humza Yousaf know about these issues too? Why did Liz Lloyd and apparently the whole SNP establishment support Humza Yousaf? Why were they so keen that Kate Forbes lost that they were willing to attack her in the most extraordinary way? Could it have been because she wanted to reform the SNP, to delve into all the SNP’s secrets both financial and otherwise and to clean it all up? Was that the reason for the rather obvious Stop Kate campaign, which only just succeeded?

So, we have an SNP leader Humza Yousaf who probably would have lost if the SNP members knew what they do now. We have a lack of clarity over the SNP’s finances and even how many members there really are.

But worse than all of this we know really nothing about what has been going on inside the SNP for about ten years. SNP insiders won’t tell us, because it will damage the cause of independence, much of Scottish society won’t investigate or report or convict, because it knows that its future and its funding depends on not upsetting the SNP.

This is the root of all of the scandals that we know about and those that we don’t. So, we don’t have much in the way of investigative journalism. We don’t have crusading campaigners for justice willing to dig and fight to find out the truth.

We don’t have any of these things because SNP supporters and politicians were willing to keep silent, look the other way and do nothing that might damage the cause of independence. This is the root of the problem. Nationalism is the at the rotten heart of Scottish politics.

But something did happen that I think caused the first log to break free from the log jam and which brought the whole pile of logs down with it.

Last year we were told by the Supreme Court not merely that the Scottish Government could not hold an independence referendum on its own authority, but also and perhaps worse than this that Scotland did not have a right to self-determination at all, because Scotland is not a colony but rather a part of a western liberal democracy. It destroyed the whole SNP argument.

The prospect of independence receded into the distance. So, if there was no great cause, there was also no reason to keep secrets for the sake of the SNP, no reason to hide whatever the SNP wanted hidden, no reason to look the other way and no reason really to fear Sturgeon. As her power drained away, we reached a point where she no longer controlled either her party, events or whichever secrets were kept hidden by all those who departed after she did.

It is this that gave us civil war during the leadership contest, and it is this that is behind each and ever new revelation.

It is the Saturday after Good Friday. The SNP has descended into Hell, but tomorrow when we roll away the stone, we will find merely a rotting corpse that has lost its reason to enforce silence and has begun to smell of something worse than rotten fish.