dmg media (UK)
The Party’s Over
Once revered as a skilled political strategist, Peter Murrell departs in disgrace. Under his stewardship, the SNP blithely misled not only its own members but the wider public. For years, the SNP has attacked its opponents as dishonest and corrupt. It has assumed the moral high ground and made accusation after accusation about the lack of integrity of other politicians. Now we know the truth. The SNP is institutionally dishonest. WHAT began as a crisis in the SNP is now a crisis engulfing Scottish democracy. At a time when families across the country are concerned about the cost of living, standards in schools and an NHS stretched to breaking point, the party of government is in utter chaos. Each day brings a troubling new chapter in the grim story of the SNP, which is now clearly in no fit state to run a country. When Nicola Sturgeon resigned as party leader a month ago, she told Scots they would ‘enjoy’ watching the contest to succeed her. How wrong she was. The contest to replace her has been desperately unedifying to witness. The contenders – Health Secretary Humza Yousaf, Finance Secretary Kate Forbes and the former Community Safety Minister Ash Regan – have snarled and snapped through a series of ill-tempered debates. Meanwhile, members of campaign teams have taken things further, briefing furious attacks on opponents, and questioning their competence and even their honesty. Now things have escalated. Following revelations in this newspaper – and pressure from Ms Forbes and Ms Regan – the party was forced to reveal the number of current members. The release of this information confirmed that the SNP had been lying about the matter, over-inflating the number by more than 30,000. Not only had the party lied, it had gone so far as to denounce accurate reports about members deserting the SNP. The resignation of chief spin doctor Murray Foote on Friday evening was inevitable. He, after all, had issued the statements which denied the truth. Mr Foote’s departing remarks – that he had acted in good faith, releasing information supplied to him by officials within SNP headquarters – set off a political explosion. By lunchtime yesterday Nicola Sturgeon’s husband, Peter Murrell, had resigned as chief executive of the party. Mr Murrell jumped before he was pushed by the SNP’s ruling national executive committee, which had begun preparing to hold a vote of no confidence in his management. Once revered as a skilled political strategist, Mr Murrell departs in disgrace. Under his stewardship, the SNP blithely misled not only its own members but the wider public. For years, the SNP has attacked its opponents as dishonest and corrupt. It has assumed the moral high ground and made accusation after accusation about the lack of integrity of other politicians. Now we know the truth. The SNP is institutionally dishonest. Its intemperate attacks on others were to deflect attention from its own rotten core. This scandal is not merely about some inaccurate membership figures, it is about treating voters with contempt. A week from tomorrow, the result of the SNP leadership election will be made public. A day later, the winner will be selected by MSPs to be Scotland’s sixth First Minister. When they should be focusing entirely on the issues facing Scottish families, he or she will be firefighting an internal party crisis. Our next First Minister will take power under a dark shadow of doubt. They will inherit a party severely damaged by the culture of dishonesty that has been allowed to flourish. Whoever succeeds Nicola Sturgeon faces a monumental challenge in winning back public trust – not only in the SNP but in the workings of government itself.