Will Nicola Sturgeon have to go?

by Matthew Eason

The Salmond-Sturgeon affair continues and shows no sign of ending. Of course, according to the frontpage of the National newspaper there is no corruption crisis or scandal engulfing the SNP. Despite the prevalent and varied claims from the Left that allege papers such as the Mail, Express and Telegraph are mouthpieces for the Conservative Party, there is no party in the UK that is more devoted in its slavish loyalty to a political party than the National in Scotland.

You only need to look at its front-page story yesterday to recognise this. Instead of leading with the incredibly newsworthy story about corruption and the abuse of power at the top of the SNP-led Scottish government, it covers a non-story about a Conservative Party flyer and mocks it for warning against voting for the SNP and thus against independence.

The allegations against Nicola Sturgeon and her team are serious and if proven true, as seems likely, would under normal circumstances represent a clear breach of the ministerial code and something that most politicians would resign over. This includes the possibility that Nicola Sturgeon has wilfully misled Parliament on multiple occasions.

However, what we have seen this week implies that this will certainly not be the case. In fact, it is highly possible that the events of this week could lead to even more explosive truths about the SNP’s leadership coming to light.

Alex Salmond was due to give evidence to a Holyrood inquiry into these alleged offences. However, he decided to pull out due what he has since described as a “significant legal impediment to his oral evidence”. The impediment? The unprecedented and irregular actions of the Crown office to remove, redact and republish parts of his evidence.

The changes to Salmond’s evidence appear to only have one purpose – to protect the First Minister from any criticism. A key part of Salmond’s evidence – specifically that Sturgeon lied to the Scottish Parliament about when she first learnt of complaints – was simply deleted. This meant he could not be asked about this crucial position.

Rightly so, Salmond’s legal team are demanding that the Crown “retain all materials and communications” that led to the unprecedented decision to intervene in such a manner.

We know that his evidence has been in the public domain since the Spectator published it in full earlier this year – indeed they won a separate court case over this. Salmond’s evidence had been published and accepted by the Scottish Parliament. What was so important that the redactions were deemed necessary at the eleventh hour?

Before, the later intervention and before the evidence was published by the Scottish Parliament, Nicola Sturgeon had already brashly asserted that there was no evidence of any wrongdoing – perhaps the wheels had already been set in motion to ensure that this appeared to be the case.

This inquiry and all the related suspicious behaviour by Nicola Sturgeon and her government are on top of all the failures of the SNP’s time in office: from plummeting school attainment levels and skyrocketing Scottish government debt to the highest premature mortality rates for over a decade and increasing numbers of children in homeless families.

At every turn, the SNP is failing the people of Scotland in both its behaviour and ability to govern. Yet even now, just as the National does, the SNP continues to claim that it is not only capable of leading Scotland, but that Scotland should be independent as well. Instead of addressing the true nature and challenges of governance the SNP prefers to solely focus on independence as both the root of all its problems as well as the solution.

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