Alex Salmond, Joanna Cherry, Joan McAlpine, Michelle Thomson, Fergus Ewing, FM Humza Yousaf, Katie Forbes, Karen Conaghan, Provost Douglas McAllister and demoted SNP council leader Jonathan McColl. All pals together?

By Bill Heaney

Eyebrows have been raised at the fact that a host of senior SNP figures are to appear alongside former First Minister Alex Salmond at his Fringe Festival show.

And there are echoes of this in West Dunbartonshire, where the Labour council’s provost Douglas McAllister shared the opening of the Balloch Highland Games with the new SNP group leader, Karen Connaghan.

This new relationship, following the demotion of Lomond councillor Jonathan McColl from the SNP leadership in Dumbarton, has left the public asking questions about what is going on in Church Street.

It was the SNP group who banned The Democrat from receiving the accustomed service for journalists from the council’s communications department after they threw our editor out of a meeting in the Burgh Hall where he asked the then Provost, Willie Hendry, if the sound could be turned up so the public could hear what was going on. That ban appears to be sine die.

It must be embarrassing beyond blushing for the new First Minister Humza Yousaf that Kate Forbes, Alex Neil, Joan McAlpine, Joanna Cherry, Fergus Ewing and Michelle Thomson have all agreed to take part in The Ayes Have It! which has a ten day run at the Festival and kicked off on Friday.

First Minister Yousaf clashed with Salmond and sided with Nicola Sturgeon during their well publicised feud in recent years. The appearance of so many leading SNP figures will prompt questions over party discipline, as it will with Labour members in Dumbarton after Cllr Conaghan was given a high profile role in Balloch.

On the opening night of Salmond’s show at the Palais Du Variété in George Square Gardens teams led by the Alba leader and Conservative MP Davis Davis debated whether Scotland should be independent.

During the show Joanna Cherry referenced the ongoing police investigation into her party’s finances, which has seen Sturgeon arrested, by quipping: “Ladies and gentlemen, if you think any of those promises have been kept, then I’ve got a camper van to sell you.”

An SNP source said: “Neither Humza Yousaf nor Nicola Sturgeon will be happy to see all of these leading figures sharing a platform with Salmond.

“It is further evidence that he is being accepted back into the fold and that it is now Sturgeon who finds herself frozen out.”

She added: “As for Dumbarton, the SNP there has been a basket case for as long as I can remember so nothing would surprise me if they have kissed and made up with Labour.”

Nicola Sturgeon has been arrested in connection with an ongoing probe into SNP finances along with her husband, former SNP CEO Peter Murrell. A camper van has been seized from Murrell’s mother’s driveway.

Labour’s Provost McAllister has joined with the SNP in banning The Democrat and refusing to answer questions even by e-mail.

Top of page: A “nun” selling tickets for the Festival shows in Edinburgh.

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