After 14 years of governing Scotland with seeming total impunity, the SNP house of cards might finally be on the verge of collapse. The cause of their downfall? The age-old phenomenon that has brought down most political parties that have been in power for too long: sleaze, incompetence and corruption.
Their record of appalling behaviour is long and grim. For example, there was Derek McKay, the former Scottish finance minister and previously favoured successor to Nicola Sturgeon. He met his end after it was revealed he had sent a string of predatory messages to a 16-year-old schoolboy, complimenting him on how ‘cute he was’.
Then there were the MPs Natalie McGarry, Neale Hanvey and Steven Bonnar. The first was found guilty for embezzling £25,000 of campaign donations during the independence referendum. The second suspended as an SNP MP for sharing antisemitic articles and comparing the Israelis to the Nazis. The third recently charged for getting involved in a sectarian street altercation.
And of course, Margaret Ferrier shouldn’t be forgotten: the SNP MP who infamously travelled around the UK knowing she was Covid positive. Like some of her colleagues she has also been criminally charged.
The executive actions of the SNP administration have been no better. For example, screwing up procurement, the SNP somehow contrived to order two ferries that are now over four years late and have ended up costing £200m, twice the contract price. The only thing that makes this fiasco seem less bad, is comparing it to the construction of the Edinburgh sick kids’ hospital, which was originally meant to finish in 2012 and is still yet to open.
Shockingly, till now this disgraceful record has generally failed to cut through. Due to a combination of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s strong communication skills, a deep-set Scottish dislike of the Tories (particularly posh ones like Boris Johnson), and a weak domestic opposition and media – the SNP have got away with a lot.
But in recent weeks, with the emergence of two new scandals which have revealed the sheer depth of corruption in SNP Scotland, there is a sense the tide may finally be starting to shift.
The first was the admission from the Crown Office in Scotland that they maliciously prosecuted two businessmen who were administering Rangers football club in 2014. As entirely innocent men, with no evidence to support their prosecution, the total cost to the taxpayer for their compensation could end up being as high as £100m – a particularly high figure for such a small country. What is more worrying is it is still unknown why this was ever allowed to take place.
The second scandal is even more significant. Following the acquittal of former First Minister Alex Salmond last year, for all charges of sexual assault, the Scottish Parliament have been investigating the Scottish Government’s handling of the initial complaints. It is a complicated and sordid saga, but in short, there is increasing evidence that Nicola Sturgeon has been misleading the Scottish Parliament over her role and knowledge of events, a clear breach of the ministerial code and something that should normally lead to resignation.
Moreover, hiding behind a warped interpretation of gagging orders left over from the trial, the sheer levels of obfuscation from her team towards the inquiry suggest something even darker may have gone on. The view of Salmond and his allies is that Sturgeon’s team tried to stitch him up, to remove him as a political opponent. Whilst still seeming improbable, further revelations are giving the theory greater credibility by the day.
For those who think the SNP are long overdue a comeuppance, the next few weeks will certainly be worth a watch.