Thursday 13 April 2023

This is the way the SNP ends not with a bang but a whimper


I read today a Scottish journalist describing how the recent SNP scandals were ruining Scotland’s reputation and how surprising it was that the Nicola Sturgeon we all relied upon during the pandemic to give us useful information and sensible advice is now sunk so low. To which I would like to respond where have you been living?

On the one hand the events since Sturgeon’s resignation have been astonishing. No one I think even Sturgeon could have guessed in January of this year what would have happened by April. But on the other hand, the last few weeks follow on as a matter of course from the way the SNP has been running Scotland since 2007.

It’s also worth remembering that in a way nothing much has happened yet. It’s perfectly possible to imagine the following.

1 The police decide that Peter Murrell has answered all their questions satisfactorily and decide that there is no case against him or anyone else. He is free to live his live with no stain on his reputation.

2 Humza Yousaf remains leader of the SNP. Although some had questioned the legitimacy of his election, the fact is that he did win and what SNP members would have done if they had known about the police raid on Sturgeon’s house is beside the point.

3 Nicola Sturgeon’s reason for resigning must be accepted as what she told us, because no other explanation is proved.

4 The SNP’s accounts are audited, and we are provided with an explanation for the previous firm of auditors leaving that is perfectly acceptable.

5 The explanation for a five-tonne mobile home parked outside Peter Murrell’s mother’s house is provided. I bought it as an anniversary present for Nicola he says. I’ve always known that she wanted to travel.

These or something like them are still perfectly plausible outcomes. After all we have been here before.

If Alex Salmond was an American, there is little doubt that he would have been treated like Harvey Weinstein. There were more witnesses against Salmond. They were civil servants and party members who it is reasonable to assume were credible. The case went to court because the Procurator Fiscal thought there was a good chance it would succeed. We have never heard a convincing reason for why it failed. Perhaps the case was hurried because of Covid, perhaps someone bungled. Perhaps the witnesses were not credible in some way. Anyway, the jury who always knows best as they were there decided to acquit. The rest of us must accept the verdict.

But later when Sturgeon was put before the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints it was likewise reasonable to assume that she would have to at least resign. If Sturgeon were an American, she would not have been allowed to continue as if nothing had happened. It cannot be that what both Salmond said and what Sturgeon said was true. Yet both got off and both were able to continue in politics. Who is to say that the same won’t happen again?

This is why what has happened in the first few months of this year is not a surprise and also why it might be nothing much. This is the way the SNP ends, not with a bang but a whimper.

The problem with the SNP and what it has done to Scotland began when Alex Salmond became First Minister in 2007. He soon after rebranded the Scottish Executive as the Scottish Government and was allowed to get away with it. He then caused the whole of the Scottish Civil Service to go native. Instead of having an objective, fair and impartial check on Salmond as we have in the other parts of the UK, we ended up with people paid for by the UK who were working to destroy it. They were either so keen to help the SNP by the promise of future rewards or so scared by threats that they became like Salmond’s courtiers.

Salmond began behaving like Henry VIII. He would rather like Donald Trump stroke a cat if he fancied it and for the most part the cat was keen enough to be stroked. But it meant that sometimes Salmond grabbed what he ought to have left alone, because he thought he could grab any cat he pleased. Eventually the claws came out, but more often than not they did not. This is why Donald Trump thought that he could grab what he pleased, because for the most part he could. This is also why Harvey Weinstein thought he could persuade by offering movie parts. Because for the most part he could.

But just as in the court of Henry VIII no one dared complain so no one dared complain about Salmond. He was necessary. He was the key to victory. Everyone looked the other way.

But when Sturgeon started although much changed in Bute House if anything Bute House became still more like a court with an absolute monarch than it was before.

Don’t ask about the finances Sturgeon tells the SNP NEC. Off with his head. It’s like the end of the Godfather when Michael Corleone tells his wife don’t ask about his business, then says she can ask once, but lies to her.

This is our problem. SNP MPs, MSPs and supporters have gone along with this running of Scotland since 2007, because they think it is worth it. Sturgeon and Salmond might have been secretive and authoritarian, but without them how were we going to get to independence.

There is honest, kind, decent Kate Forbes. Well apparently, she was a finance minister with almost no actual control over her brief. Instead, any important decision was taken by either Sturgeon or Murrell. But this way of running things has been going on for years and neither Kate Forbes, nor Humza Yousaf nor anyone else spoke up about it. Not one civil servant leaked anything seriously damaging about the SNP and it seems a senior civil servant was running Humza Yousaf’s campaign at the behest of Sturgeon to make sure no one else might win.

People like Joanna Cherry are obviously intelligent, decent, and honest, yet they remain in party which looks ever more corrupt. Why? Because the SNP is necessary to achieve independence and it will be worth it.

I think the SNP may well be much more corrupt than what we have seen come out yet. The SNP has a problem, not only is it being attacked from without, there is now a Trojan horse inside the citadel which is sick of Sturgeon pretending to take Scotland to independence, but not doing anything to make it happen. This horse is really Pegasus (think about it) and it is much more dangerous because it has inside information.

It will take the defeat of the SNP at a General Election to begin the process of finding out what has been happening and cleansing it. Better still if the SNP is defeated at Holyrood and we have a different party or set of parties in charge, we might be able to have a forensic investigation not merely into the accounts, but into everything else that has been kept secret.

But it is just as likely that at some point soon the scandal drifts to an end with a whimper. Nothing much happens. There are no criminal offences, and no one is even reprimanded. Everything I know about Scotland since 2007 tells me that this is at least a possible alternative. If I am pessimistic, it is the most likely conclusion to the scandal. It is after all how all previous SNP scandals have ended.