First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and her husband, SNP chief executive Peter Murrell.
NOTEBOOK by BILL HEANEY
Is Nicola Sturgeon a democrat? I’m asking because – according to the way they voted at the last independence referendum – more than half the electorate disagreed that Scotland should be independent. The people said No.
However, the First Minister and her Holyrood colleagues refuse to accept that result and are demanding that we go back to the polls, although they agreed at the time that this would be the end of the matter for “a generation”.
I consider this fact is worth pointing out to readers of The Democrat in the wake of the disgraceful behaviour of US President Donald Trump, who refused to accept the result of the presidential election, which will put Joe Biden in the White House on January 20.
President Trump wound up his supporters to the extent that an angry mob of them attacked the White House and took part in a violent confrontation in which thousands took part and four people died. One woman was shot.
US President Donald Trump raving yet again at the presidential podium.
Don’t tell me I can’t compare Nicola Sturgeon with Donald Trump.
That’s not something I relish doing, but I feel I have to in light of the fact that keeping quiet at a time like this would be wrong. Dangerously wrong.
The Scottish Parliament elections are just round the corner in May.
Ms Sturgeon has said she can see “no reason” why they should not go ahead.
Speaking on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland radio programme on Tuesday, Ms Sturgeon said it was “really important” that the democratic process continues during the Covid-19 pandemic.
In December, MSPs passed legislation which contains contingency options for the election.
It could allow voting to take place on more than one day, though ministers do not expect this power will have to be used.
The First Minister told BBC Scotland: “I see no reason at this stage why the election wouldn’t go ahead.
“I think everybody would agree it’s really important that our democratic processes continue and that elections happen. “
Really? Why should the electorate in Scotland stand by the democratic process which has decided the future of this country when she point blank refuses to do that herself?
“There have been elections in many other countries over the course of the pandemic,” she says.
However, it’s not the pandemic we are dealing with here. It’s democracy. The fragile flower of democracy.
Ms Sturgeon has told us that if the electorate comes out strongly in favour of the SNP in May then they will be going hammer and tongs for a second independence referendum.
What if the SNP were to lose this second independence referendum?
Would Ms Sturgeon want a third and then a fourth and then even possibly a fifth until she got the result she wants?
Sturgeon is certainly setting the SNP up for victory, but the way she’s going about it is not pretty to watch.
Old exponents of dirty tricks in the smoke-filled rooms of Tammany Hall would be envious of the way she does business.
In a sleekit move, senior SNP figures have with her blessing – yes, they have almost canonised her – intervened in the choice of candidate in Dumbarton, a key target seat for the party at the Holyrood election.
Splits have emerged between the SNP leadership, which includes the FM’s husband who is also the party’s chief executive, and its grassroots locally after party headquarters muscled in on the controversial internal election of their prospective candidate to take on Labour’s Jackie Baillie.
The battle to become candidate for Dumbarton had been rancorous with Caroline McAllister, the deputy leader of West Dunbartonshire Council, barred from standing after failing vetting.
Ms McAllister had seemingly blotted her copybook by agreeing with views expressed by the Harry Potter author, JK Rowling, about transgender issues.
Cllrs Karen Conaghan and Caroline McAllister – shafted by SNP dirty tricks department.
However, it is understood senior figures in the SNP felt the process was too skewed towards Karen Conaghan, a councillor whom sources believe was the favoured candidate of the local executive.
Mrs Conaghan was the favoured candidate until it became clear that she was part of Catholic family who were exceptionally active in the Pro Life movement and was likely to vote against abortion on demand if that were to come before the Holyrood parliament.
Then there is the question of medically unsupervised abortion.
There is also the vexed question of gay marriage and that she might be opposed to that since the Catholic Church has made its position clear that they do not support that.
The original selection format was to have been an interview style event with each candidate given 15 minutes to answer questions without any other contender being aware of their answers. Six of the 15 minutes would have been given over to the candidate to make their case unopposed.
It was thought that this would insulate Ms Conaghan from the intensity of questions and interaction with rival candidates associated with a regular hustings event where robust answers to opponents’ points of view are expected.
At the eleventh hour, the SNP in Edinburgh decided this was too important to a matter to leave to their members in the Dumbarton Constituency Association.
It was decided to give them the heave and replace them with Mike Russell, the long-in-the-tooth constitution relations secretary, as chairman of the selectors.
This followed a furious row between SNP officials and constituency officers.
The SNP’s digital officer in the capital emailed the branch to say that what was being proposed “is not a hustings” and asked for the process to be rearranged.
In an email to members, Graeme McCormick, the Dumbarton branch convener, said there had been “much discussion and outrage at the attempt by the NEC (national executive committee) to interfere with our practical proposals to offer all our members an opportunity to engage in the democratic process”.
The stench was pervasive. Local members complained that they were locked out of the online proceedings with less than 10 per cent of the near 1,100 members able to access the two-hour event.
Math Campbell-Sturgess, one of the candidates who lives on the Rosneath Peninsula, tweeted: “I am very concerned only 100 could get in. I can’t fathom that. Zoom allows for over 500 members if desired but I didn’t set it up.”
It was clear when the SNP said that the licence held by the party for hustings events was limited to 100 users that something rotten had found its way into the process.
Nicola Sturgeon on the campaign trail with Dumbarton prospective candidate Toni Guigliano.
Toni Guigliano, an old friend and associate of Nicola Sturgeon and a long-time campaigner for gay rights, someone whose local connections were minimal, had been parachuted in by the First Minister and her husband’s headquarters team in Edinburgh.
Meanwhile, The Dumbarton Democrat, has been banned, boycotted and smeared by the SNP who are furious that we have published a number of articles which they would have preferred the public not to see.
Oh, and that we told a press officer to bugger off when she joined a group of members of the management team (all of whom have been designated chief officers and rewarded with an extra £6000 a year) despite cover-ups and obfuscation in relation to important matters such as council procurement of contracts.
They know nothing about democracy or Freedom of the Press and they have not been pulled into line by Ms Sturgeon, whose credentials as a democrat must now be seriously questioned in relation to her insistence on a second referendum on independence taking place this year.