By Lucy Ashton
A former Nationalist MSP has launched a blistering attack on her old boss Nicola Sturgeon, saying she “deserved an Oscar” for her “convincing portrayal of a reasonable person” at Holyrood last week. The ex-first minister is facing questions over the financial chaos currently engulfing the SNP.
Her husband Peter Murrell has already been arrested, along with former party treasurer Colin Beattie. Ms Sturgeon appeared at the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday to answer questions on what had happened, during which she looked emotional and under pressure.
But that doesn’t seem to have convinced former MSP Joan McAlpine. She claimed Ms Sturgeon was “always in charge” despite trying to create a picture that the party meltdown has taken her by surprise.
McAlpine also accused Sturgeon of allowing “bad things” to “fester” by closing “the doors and windows to all scrutiny”.
She added: “Nicola Sturgeon deserves an Oscar for her convincing portrayal of a reasonable person traumatised by events she could never have predicted.”
Writing in The Sunday Post, McAlpine claimed allies of Sturgeon had forced her out as an MSP due to her opposition to gender reforms.
She claims the “leadership cult” that developed under Ms Sturgeon “allowed the tiny cabal to ignore due process and transparency”.
McAlpine had been expected to be the number one candidate on the South Scotland list for the SNP at the 2021 Scottish election.
However, she alleges “activists close to Sturgeon” implemented an “equalities mechanism” which allowed Emma Harper to leapfrog her in the list and ultimately, win a seat at Holyrood.
McAlpine, who was award-winning quality newspaper journalist – she edited The [Glasgow] Herald for a time before becoming an MSP, claims the SNP was warned its new rules were not lawful but the National Executive Committee “ignored this advice”.
She says the party’s business manager Kirsten Oswald MP broke the convention of the chair backing the status quo to use her casting vote to ensure the new mechanism, which gave an advantage to some candidates from certain ethnic backgrounds or disability.
McAlpine claims she was “definitely not in Nicola’s in-crowd” after “speaking out against her determination to allow people to change their legal gender without safeguards”.
She claims she was “subject to additional vetting”, adding: “Supporters called in tears, urging me to take legal action.
“I chose to put the party first, as so many did before me. When the regional list was published, Emma Harper topped it, I was second.
“My solicitor wrote to the NEC, as did I. We asked them to reveal the actual votes polled and pointed to potential illegality but got no reply. Such is the contempt in which the party’s HQ holds anyone, including elected members who dare to challenge them.
“With hindsight, perhaps I should have taken the SNP to judicial review. It might have shone a light on the disregard of due process which has led to the current mess. Ironically, I don’t regret being out of parliament as a result of what happened. I’m a happier person and who would wish to be an SNP MSP in the current climate?”
Speaking at a press scrum on Tuesday, Ms Sturgeon denied she quit as first minister because of the police probe into SNP finances. She added: “”I could not have anticipated in my worst nightmares what would have unfolded over the past few weeks. I believe the SNP, notwithstanding the real difficulties that surrounds every party just now, is in real good state.”