SNP leadership ‘seeking to stifle debate’ amid anger in ranks, claims Kenny MacAskill
By Bill Heaney and Scott McNab in the Scotsman
Former Scottish justice secretary Kenny MacAskill has criticised the SNP leadership for seeking to stifle debate within its ranks.
Mr MacAskill said “complaints raised by some leadership figures” were surprising as such activity had previously been carried out by party HQ.
“Everything from explicit endorsement to financial support has been given to anointed ones,” he writes.
“What’s fine for them is surely legitimate for others.
“Secondly, it also assumes that everything’s fine and any deviation from the official party line is, as they put it, ‘factionalism’. It assumes that such behaviour is almost ‘just not cricket’.
“But this is the SNP, not the Communist Party of the Soviet Union or any of its satellite parties. Democratic centralism doesn’t apply. That was the euphemism for limited debate, but then ruthless central dictat.
“The SNP is a democratic party and there’s anger over many issues within the membership ranks and debate is required. Much of this seems driven by fear of open debate and hence it’s being labelled almost as dissent.”
Readers will know that The Dumbarton Democrat has been banned and boycotted by the party which controls the local council in West Dunbartonshire.
Their only excuse for this now must be that they simply don’t like what we write since swearing, which our editor was accused of when he told a press officer trying to throw him out of a meeting to “bugger off”.
Since then one of their senior councillors, Iain Dickson, has used the F-word at a meeting response to Conservative councillor Sally Page without any sanctions being taken against him by Cllr Jonathan McColl, the SNP leader.
Neither has he been reported to the Standards Commission by the Council chief executive, Joyce White, as she has done with other councillors who, in her opinion, have stepped out of line in the past.
Also McColl himself has never been called to account for a smear campaign he mounted when, in a widely distributed official council e-mail, he lied that our editor had assaulted two women by pushing one of them and hassling the other in or near the council offices at Garshake and Church Street.
More recently, there were tensions within the SNP locally when the deputy leader, Cllr Caroline McAllister, was dropped from the potential list of candidates to fight the Scottish Parliament election next May after the “woke” group within the party complained bitterly about views she had expressed in the trans gender debate.
Toni Giugliano, who has no local connections, has been chosen for the candidature by the party’s national executive, drafted in to take over from the locals by Nicola Sturgeon and her husband, SNP chief executive officer, Peter Murrell.
Since then gay rights campaigner Toni Giugliano, who has no local connections, has been chosen for the candidature by the party’s national executive, who pushed the local constituency association out of their way and brought in SNP big beast Mike Russell from Argyll to manipulate matters on their behalf.
Cllr Karen Conaghan, the council’s education convener, was also excluded from that list to fight the election against the sitting member, Labour’s Jackie Baillie, because she had not expressed support for a woman’s right to choose in a debate about abortion. Cllr Conaghan is a Catholic.
Feelings are running high locally and the SNP has faced internal tensions at national level since a rule change was implemented earlier this year that meant an MP would have to stand down from Westminster before seeking election to Holyrood.
The move was widely seen as a move to stop Joanna Cherry QC., the MP for Edinburgh South West, moving to the Scottish Parliament. The party has rejected this, insisting the move came about to prevent a series of possible Westminster by elections.
However, Sturgeon’s pal, Angus Robertson, whose wife was an SNP spad (special adviser when Salmond was in Bute House) and who was defeated by Conservative leader Douglas Ross in Moray, was selected to fight that Edinburgh seat, which is now held by the Tory temporary leader, Ruth Davidson, who succeeded Jackson Carlaw, who was given the heave by his party.
Holyrood really is a nest of vipers and there will be more dirty dealing and behind the scenes horse trading going on during the SNP’s contest for the party’s internal positions which take places this weekend.
Add to that the fact that the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry was told last Thursday that then-first minister Alex Salmond and other senior Scottish government (SNP) figures were against it being set up.
In what looked to some observers to be a sleekit attempt to undermine Alex Salmond and make Nicola Sturgeon look good, Deputy First Minister John Swinney told the inquiry there had been clear division in the SNP over the issue.
He said an inquiry was only authorised “after the change of first minister had taken place”.
In political terms, this adds up to only one thing – Sturgeon good, Salmond bad.
However, despite the clear evidence that the SNP are at war and fighting like Kilkenny cats in a sack, a party spokeswoman said: “The SNP is proud to be hosting the biggest and most interactive conference of any political party during the pandemic.
“With five months until the most important election in Scotland’s history, our agenda is focused on the issues of most importance to families across the nation.”
Meanwhile, the public are being treated on TV news with the free school dinners announcement from the SNP.
Their young spin doctors probably don’t know that it was the infamous Tommy Sheridan who first promulgated this idea in the Scottish Parliament many years ago when he was accused of red raw socialist politics and his suggestion was damned as a scam on the level of “free beer for the workers”.
Sturgeon’s mantra seems to be that any policy is alright so long as it’s her policy.
Questions that should be asked of Sturgeon, and which should be put to the SNP right now, is why wait until 2022 to do this and why only if the SNP will the election next May?
I know it doesn’t look like it, as the Covid deaths mount and the NHS waiting lists for other illnesses grow ever longer and school pupils’ lives will be put at risk as have been the lives of their grandparents in care homes, but the SNP are supposed to be in government right now.
What’s more deaths, more ongoing pain and sorrow, when these are measured against the prospect of winning the May election? I think we should be told.
Who is going to mop up the blood after the bitter faction fighting that is currently taking place in the SNP this weekend?