2007 - 2022

Cherry Picking

Joanna Cherry being demoted in a Westminster re-shuffle has called apoplexy amongst her supporters who have raised her to the status of minor deity in recent months. This will take the internal warring of the SNP to new and dizzy heights in the coming days and weeks.

But one of the strangest things about the SNP civil war is the fact that the Salmond-Cherry faction has absolutely no actual strategy for what to do next. They are convulsed by rage and are infuriated when polling for Yes, for the SNP and personally for Sturgeon continues to be incredibly high. Each new positive poll sends them into new plumes of rage, but this rage has nowhere to go.

I’m not in any political party and I have no idea why she was demoted from the front line. It happened the day after someone on the NEC leaked internal material.  So it might be that. But Cherry, Kenny McAskill and Angus MacNeill have all been operating for months to basically wage war against their own party, almost daring the leadership to take some action against them. All political parties have to have some level of internal discipline to function at the most basic level. The SNP, for years accused of being a New Labour clone for the level of internal discipline have recently been descending into very public chaos.

So there’s a choice for the SNP leadership and Westminster team. They have to respond in some ways to those creating chaos within their party or the chaos will destroy it. There is a risk that enforcing some discipline will create a backlash but they have no option.

There’s three options available to the faction Cherry represents.

At some point they will have to either leave the party they hate and create some alternative. Few seem to have the guts or the resources to do this, and the ready-made option of the ISP seems an inadequate vessel for such ambitious people.

Or they can stay and try and bring down their own leader. But that will be bloody and create such havoc as to destroy the party’s electoral chances. That’s a choice.

Or they can stay and try and be less disruptive till after the May elections. But that runs the risk of the elections being very successful, something that would ruin their entire narrative.

The dividing lines between all these factions are really confused. It is not a binary (sorry) choice between left and right, fundamentalist and gradualist, progressive and reactionary, Plan A or Plan B or even Sturgeon or Salmond. It is more like a Hieronymus Bosch painting than a political party.

Perhaps they are just waiting for the Salmond inquiry to do such damage to Sturgeon as to force her removal. But that is by no means certain.

It’s all reminiscent of the collapse of the Labour Party in the 1980s or the implosion of the Tory party in recent years. At some point, if you are trying to destroy your own party from within you either leave because you are convulsed with such rage or you are booted out.


Comments (103)

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  1. norm says:

    For the record, I think it needs to be stated that just last week on Twitter Joanna Cherry was defending the rights of an anti-semite to be anti-semitic. When questioned, they doubled down, instead of retracting and apologising.

    1. Bill Craig says:

      Evidence, please! Assertion is dead easy.

      1. CherryCite says:

        Hi Bill! The evidence you need is here. https://twitter.com/DavidPaisley/status/1354031851455840257


        Cherry’s in the past donated to Sarah Phillimore’s campaign defending her tweets which were reported to the police as transphobia and as religiously motivated hate speech. Now, no-one’s suggesting they’re illegal, but if you look at those David shares, it’s pretty clearly antisemitic abuse to tell a Jewish person whose relatives died in their holocaust that it was horrific for those relatives that the Jewish person had grown up to *checks notes* ask them not to make Holocaust comparisons. (Phillimore had started making holocaust comparisons.) Yesterday she was defending again, her speech.

        She’s threatened David with lawsuits for saying that giving money to the campaign of Phillimore (who boasts of being a member of an organisation which used the hashtag (including in their pinned tweet) #SayYesToHate, which Phillimore’s lawsuit appears to be part of) was “funding hate”.

        1. Bill Craig says:

          Thanks for those links, Cherrycite. Is that your real name?

          I agree with what Joanna has written there, but I don’t “do” Twitter. It looks like an unhealthy place to me. I’ve been active in politics for 55 years, and I’ve even been known to criticise the Israeli government without being anti-semitic. As Bob Dylan (Zimmerman) pointed out, there are quite a few semitic tribes.

          Here’s an observation for you: I don’t see why anyone would be surprised if an anti-semite made anti-semitic comments. Weaponising those comments is damaging, and foolish.

    2. Allison McGregor says:

      Norm, please post your full name and general area of residence please when posting defamatory comments.

  2. Margaret McGowan says:

    MIke, Have you read the blog of 27th January by Craig Murray? Perhaps you should have done before writing this rubbish. I didn’t realise Bella Caledonia was just another tool of the MSM peddling the same old anti SNP stuff ….. but now I do, after reading your article today.

    1. John McLeod says:

      Bella Caledonia a tool of the MSM…? You can’t be serious.

      1. james gourlay says:

        Why not?

    2. Paddy Farrington says:

      Mike’s post struck me as a level-headed assessment of what had clearly become an utterly untenable situation within the SNP. His piece was not remotely anti-SNP. The issue is perfectly simple: once you have a faction within a party that constantly seeks to undermine its leadership, it’s no surprise that the party chooses not to appoint people from that faction to leadership roles. The only surprise is that it’s taken so long for the SNP to come to that conclusion. Perhaps the leaking of the NEC meeting was the last straw: a party simply cannot function democratically if sensitive decisions are immediately leaked and briefed against. The implications, as Mike sets out, are possibly momentous, but possibly not because, as he also implies, it seems this argument is at least as much to do with personal egos as with genuine political differences.

      1. james gourlay says:

        So the hiding of the results is democratic?

        1. Paddy Farrington says:

          James, reports of decisions taken at NEC meetings are available to SNP members online. No hiding here. The issue is leaking and briefing with hostile intent.

      2. raineach says:

        Paddy, I have just NOT resigned from the SNP. see you virtually on Monday

    3. Hi Margaret
      yes I’ve read Craig’s blogs. They’re mostly drivel. But lucrative.

      1. pogopen says:

        I’m amazed to hear you talk of Craig Murrays posts as drivel. Accounts of Salmond’s and Assange’s trials and his own legal defence are hardly drivel even if you do not like his other writings. I have gone from being a strong SNP supporter to cancelling my membership in a matter of months and am now considering not voting for them at all. Virtually all of the writers I have respect for have at least misgivings about how the SNP leadership have acted in the past and at present.
        I didn’t leave the SNP, the SNP left me.

        1. james gourlay says:

          Yes pogopen. Well said.

        2. Amanda says:

          Totally agree, especially the first part !!

      2. james gourlay says:

        Hardly drivel. They are very well thought out and written. Do you think he writes them for money?

    4. james gourlay says:

      Thank you.

    5. james gourlay says:

      Thanks for saying this Margaret McGowan.

      1. Craig P says:

        There have been mutterings of skulduggery for a year, but to read Craig Murray laying bare much of the Salmond trial background was shocking.

        It is the issue that will have to be dealt with one way or another, or sayonara SNP.

  3. Iain macphail says:

    While Joanna Cherry is a talented, intelligent operator, the dire situation our industries find themselves in (in Brexit Britain) surely make it a Team Game right now.

    When world class exporters cant export,
    And talented kids are ripped out of Erasmus
    Artists cant tour Europe any more
    And the London government introduces ever more extreme legislation around minorities
    We need indy, not fan clubs.

    Time some folk looked in the mirror – and ask the only question that counts…

    If you screw up this chance at indy
    And put Boris et al in firm control
    What single progressive policy do you think will see the light of day this side of the 2030s?

    It’s time for us all, collectively & individually (and nationally) to shake off indulgence & take our place at the full table.

    1. Hugh says:

      Totally agree, if we dont get indyref2 and good result in may, then say goodbye to scotland because all westminster wants is our demise

    2. Lorraine kelly says:

      I think you are spot on
      I think those within the party who have grievances need to.pjt them aside until after Independence , because if they cause us to lose independence supporters will not forgive them very easily
      Once independent then they can form a new party to take Scotland forward

  4. John Mooney says:

    It really is time to lance the boil with regard to Cherry,Mcaskill and Macneill and the rest of the “Salmonista” brigade,If this bunch of malcontents screw up our chances of independence for their personal grudges then it is time to tell them to sling their hook!

    1. james gourlay says:

      It’s the present “leaders” of the SNP who are screwing up Scotland’s chance for independence.

  5. florian albert says:

    I find it interesting that Mike Small uses the phrase ‘SNP civil war.’ It has been obvious to outsiders, like me, that this has been going on for a couple of years now.
    Bella Caledonia has chosen, largely, to ignore it. It is now clear that ignoring it did not lead to its going away.
    Also, Mike Small has now come down clearly against one side, the Salmond/Cherry faction. This, of course, leaves him on the other side, as a supporter of the Sturgeon faction.
    The Salmond/ Cherry faction have three main grievances; (1) the events leading to the trial of Alex Salmond; (2) the promotion of the rights of ‘trans women’; and
    (3) the perceived failure of the SNP government to pursue independence sufficiently aggressively.
    It strikes me that on the first two, there is considerable public support for the Salmond/Cherry line. On the first, the Holyrood Enquiry has shown dubious practices at the very top of the SNP and the civil service. (Mike Small concedes that this might lead to her removal; a clear acceptance that there may well be fire as well as smoke.) On the second, the idea of self identification is undoubtedly controversial.

    1. I haven’t ignored it but sometimes its been impossible to comment either for legal reasons or because the debate is often so toxic as to be impossible to navigate through. As I said its complex and murky and not the binary you describe. There are more than two sides.

      You write: “It strikes me that on the first two, there is considerable public support for the Salmond/Cherry line”, what evidence would you put for that statement? (I have no idea whether that’s true).

      1. florian albert says:

        My evidence – for my belief that there is widespread support for Salmond/Cherry and the views they represent – would be the people I communicate with and my knowledge of, and understanding of, Scottish society.

        Again, you refer to civil war. This can only happen when there is committed support for two, reasonably equal, sides.
        There was no obvious pressure on the SNP to take today’s action. That helps explain why there has been such a big reaction. My guess is that it will deepen rather than deal with the divisions within the SNP. In short, a self-inflicted wound by Sturgeon’s faction.

        1. “My evidence – for my belief that there is widespread support for Salmond/Cherry and the views they represent – would be the people I communicate with”


          1. Niemand says:

            Current poll in The National has 75% saying the sacking was wrong, with only 20% saying it was right (5% DK); 2326 votes cast. OK, so just one poll but still, 75% v. 20% is a very wide margin.


          2. Niemand says:

            ‘So’, here is some poll evidence that Cherry has pretty strong support among some readers of The National. You asked for evidence of public support for her so here is some.

      2. james gourlay says:

        There are lots of people who want Sturgeon out and perhaps J Cherry to lead the party. Do you follow Wings?

          1. Derek says:

            Do you read Wings, though?

            (A different question)

  6. Iain says:

    Whilst as you say Mike it isn’t binary, I think there is an increasingly obvious divide between the long-standing older generation of campaigners and the predominantly younger – and much greater in numbers – group that came on board post-2014. The latter are also predominantly more progressive and far more adaptive and receptive to the evolution in the indy movement (oh aye, and a hell of a lot more tolerant to a certain minority group). In contrast I often feel like the old guard are stuck in some pre-2014 echo chamber, pining for the old actors to return to the stage, dewy-eyed in the belief they will offer the path to victory, and in the meantime seeking solace in a diminishingly small set of vitriolic online mouthpieces.

    1. Yeah there’s definitely a generational aspect to this.

    2. Niemand says:

      It isn’t a specifically SNP generational thing – it strikes me as a generational divide that pervades society in general at the moment. The notion of ‘progressive’ is so wooly too. What does it really mean? To some (the older generation) what it actually means just now is repression and dogmatism, not progression, to others it means the road to an enlightened future. I am more of the former opinion in some key matters but neither group has the right to a monopoly as to what is truly progressive. There is no automatic righteousness to someone just because they are younger.

    3. Stuart Manson says:

      Nicola sturgeon will never deliver an independent Scotland, does not have a credible plan. Section 30 is dead in the water, how many times do the Tories have to say ” now is not the time “, before it sinks in? 40 years? But hey I’m just an old git who’s time has passed, according to the SNP youth wing.

    4. Stuart Clark says:

      “solace in a diminishingly small set of vitriolic online mouthpieces”

      seeking solace in vitriol myself, I do devour the writings of the Reverent and Peter.A Bell.

  7. Jeel says:

    Check the Polls.

  8. Isobel Hunter says:

    It seems to me that there is an issue about the whole basis on which the SNP functions.
    Over the past few years there has developed a group around the First Minister who are not interested in the views of party members. I speak as a supporter but former member). It is not a good look for the political and administrative leaders to be partners.
    It looks to me as if it is Nicola’s supporters who have elevated her to the status of almost a god rather than Joanna’s. She has been doing an excellent job in many ways but is not, nor should she be, above question. There are questions to be answered about the whole Salmond affair which the Enquiry will not be able to answer as it appears to have its hands tied. You cannot set up an Enquiry then limit its access to essential material without raising doubts about how genuine it is.
    There are too many seasoned campaigners leaving the fray just when it looks as if we might win. One wonders why?
    The Independence Movement is a very broad church and the SNP should be able to encompas a range of views. A lot is being said about not rocking the boat but it needs to be said to the ruling click as well as to those with different views. Sidelining or driving out those who do not slavishly toe the party (or the leadership’s) line is the devisive action not daring to consider alternative strategies.
    And yes- New Labour comes to mind.

    1. Blair says:

      It looks to me as if it is Nicola’s supporters who have elevated her to the status of almost a god rather than Joanna’s. She has been doing an excellent job in many ways but is not, nor should she be, above question.”

      There has been a problem for a many decades, and people just don’t have enough space to develop their true self. Some people do a lot better than others but many more are just trampled on. Binary systems present problems in the real 3D world: They are too black & white! The system requires an upgrade to update, full RGB Colour.
      Nicola & Joanna’s can both be God’s in their own worlds fully independent of each other unless they want to meet up. It would be like Nicola rules planet Neptune and Joanna rules Jupiter. Planet Earth has been reserved for Christ in a deal made by Donald J Trump (with the provision that He gets to keep one of his Trump International Golf Courses within an independent Scottish Kingdom.
      The possibilities of BREXIT are currently still being evaluated.

      RISI Link H3 Live.

    2. Amanda says:


      Hear hear !!

  9. Mark Mortimer says:

    Great to see written what is obvious to many.

  10. Dave Francis says:

    Why did you not mention the Trans Elephant in the room .
    THAT is the main issue between Jo Cherry and those who want her out.
    The fact that she has death and rape threats from some deranged SNP trans activists, but with NO official support from the SNP hierarchy and NO condemnation by them of that abuse, is particularly remarkable.
    Make no mistake about it, this move by the SNP has absolutely infuriated many members and will ensure that debate around trans issues and GRA reform will only get more heated and divisive.
    The leadership has only stoked things up.

    1. Derek Thomson says:

      “Wee Jimmy Krankie??” And you’re letting it stay on your blog?

    2. S Kennedy says:

      The abuse Joanna Cherry gets is not on, but you only need to look at social media threads to see that Nicola Sturgeon gets just as much abuse.

  11. Malcolm Kerr says:

    I’ve never been a Cherry fan, and talk of a Salmond comeback is truly ludicrous. Sacking Cherry is catastrophically inept however, and portrays Nicola Sturgeon as a weak leader motivated by fear rather than the courage required to get us out of the UK. We need someone at the top with broad leadership skills, a capacity to delegate, and a range of responses at least as nuanced as the varied threats we are facing and will face from the Brits. The top of the party is sadly hollowed out by years of centralised control, and it’s not easy to see who has the potential while everyone is under Sturgeon’s thumb.

    1. Lynsey says:

      How many takes can be squeezed out of this? It looks more like leadership to me than weakness, albeit damage limitation. Was it more damaging to keep JC on the front bench or to remove her? There’s always a gamble in a calculated risk, time will tell whether they called it right, at the right time (with room for things to settle before real campaigning for May gets underway). But it seems like everyone is now a strategist.

    2. Papko says:

      “The top of the party is sadly hollowed out by years of centralized control”

      Surely Salmond started that? he had 10 plus years as leader of the Party (and 7 as FM) .
      His protégé was Nicola Sturgeon, they campaigned successfully since 2007, when he stepped down, no one else challenged for the leadership.

      She has found herself in a different world, Brexit and the virus have defined her tenure.

      1. Malcolm Kerr says:

        That’s correct, Papko. Salmond centralised control of the Party, but retained a good range of big hitters around himself. It was maybe a decent enough idea at the time, though it carried risks. The political environment has changed, the SNP has now been in government for too long, and is plagued by croneyism and scandal reminiscent of the last months of the John Major government. We have a party CEO who is the FM’s husband, and that has proved a disaster, as you would expect. Husband and wife teams in politics are bad news. It might be healthy for democracy (though not for the prospect of independence any time soon) if we had a change of party in government at Holyrood, but the hapless opposition renders that nigh on impossible.

        1. Craig P says:

          Salmond didn’t just centralise control of the party. He centralised control over the state. A number of moves, such as the amalgamation of police services into one, removed power from other areas and centralised it round the head of devolved government. Aberdeen council don’t want development on Menie estate? Screw them, Trump’s my pal, overturn their decision.

          He didn’t centralise everything. Judges, and Parliament itself, still seem to have their own mind. Their independence might still enable him to bring down the current head of government.

      2. Bill Craig says:

        The problem in the party seems to date back to the change in its constitution in 2018. That took control away from the members and branches and gave it all, effectively, to the leader. From my reading of the new constitution, the leader is in place for as long as he or she chooses.

    3. John MacDonald says:

      “Sacking Cherry is catastrophically inept however, and portrays Nicola Sturgeon as a weak leader motivated by fear rather than the courage required to get us out of the UK.”

      Quite the opposite – this was a sign she’s confident enough in her position to publicly admonish a high-profile MP that has been causing nothing but grief for the past few years. Combined with the sacking of MacNeil and MacAskill, it’s a clear signal of intent – enough is enough and to hell with nonsense. The three of them have been taking liberties for too long, and it’s time they realised that you can’t constantly try to undermine the leadership in favour of the previous leader without facing some sort of consequences. If anything, they’re getting off lightly.

      Getting us out of the UK is not about “courage”. History is full of courageous failures. What we need is intelligence, strategic nous, resolve, but most of all, popular public support. Sturgeon has used the first three to get us into a position where we now have the fourth, and that’s despite the constant stream of nonsense from the likes of the above. Most ordinary members and supporters just want the party to keep steering the ship towards our destination, and are sick of the malcontents constantly trying to draw attention to themselves and stir up trouble. They managed to stay quiet when they were trying to get themselves elected to Westminster in 2019 – it’s a shame they can’t offer their Holyrood colleagues the same respect.

      1. Geoff Caldwell says:

        John, Completely agree with everything you said there. I think the replies are generally from people with a personal gripe with the SNP. I know things aren’t perfect but there is a real concentrated effort being made by our political enemies to fuel these rows. Cherry had to have her wings clipped and that was all it was. She said she was sacked, but that’s the usual inflated language we have come to expect from her. And Wings et al are poisonous to our cause. Eyes on the prize. I really don’t think people here realise the consequences of bringing down Sturgeon at this point would be. I.e. no SNP majority at Holyrood and the only real chance of Indy happening gone, probably for the whole of this decade.

        1. Malcolm Kerr says:

          There’s an increasing chance of the SNP *not* achieving a majority in May. Bad for prospect of Independence, but probably healthy for devolved government and for democracy. Independence isn’t a ‘prize’, by the way, and if we think of it as such we will never get there. (Definition: Prize. “a thing given as a reward to the winner of a competition or in recognition of an outstanding achievement”).

          1. Geoff Caldwell says:

            Ok, it was a term of phrase and I shouldn’t have used it. So, don’t you think Independence would be good for democracy?

          2. Malcolm Kerr says:

            Yes, I think Independence would be good for democracy. Otherwise I wouldn’t have been an active SNP member for decades! What I think or believe matters very little, however. We have a lot of people to persuade, and that includes winning the acceptance or acquiescence to independence of voters, including those who will have decided against the proposal in a referendum. There is an autocratic, authoritarian streak to the SNP’s current leadership. TBH, I’d turn a blind eye to that for a limited period if I thought we were getting closer to Independence, but they don’t have a plan, and will also turn off the very middle ground dubious voters we need to attract. I fear we are watching one of those slo-mo car crashes which is about to manifest itself as inevitable. My prediction for what it’s worth: there will be a change of leadership and major rethink this year after the SNP fails to get an overall majority at Holyrood. The new leadership (hopefully) will involve new players, whose potential is currently being repressed by fear-led tight centralist control within the SNP. What I’m seeing is self-entitlement in our elected representatives, especially those at Westminster who have definitely “settled in”, and abject complacency in organisation and motivation from HQ downwards. I don’t recall anyone saying that achieving Independence was going to be easy, and I’ve never felt that, but we really have squandered the last five years, during which we could have been preparing the ground.

          3. Geoff Caldwell says:

            Don’t agree. That was the whole point of Mike’s article, Cherry et al don’t have a plan. Flying daft kites about Treaties similar to Ireland’s was bananas. NS can only do what she can do within a legal framework. Anything else at the moment is a non starter. That means requesting a S30 and take it from there. I also disagree on what you think is an authoritarian streak. Well, how come Cherry et al have been going off like loose cannons for the last couple of years?Not enough discipline if you ask me. I agree there should have been more done to prepare. But bugger all chance of that now with this shitshow.

          4. Precisely. Everything seems to be full of fire and brimstone but without any sense of direction. They want a referendum NOW and a plebiscite YESTERDAY. ‘Just go the UN’ – its all wildly hysterical and over-heated but completely shambolic. They’ve confused fury for radicalism and been consumed by their own egos.

    4. Blair says:

      Everybody seems to have accepted what they have been told, even if suspicions are raised, they are quickly buried! Back in 2014, the Art of Cheating was ruther crude. In 2020 it was impossible to prove because of the sophisticated AI cyber systems.


      Scotland would be independent now if cheating had not occurred, however my RI Systems were monitoring, my father had been testing and noticed. Now I work autonomously monitoring and now teaching Don’t believe everything that you see.

      A New World Order is in control, everything is fixed and locked down. It won’t be long before they reveal themselves, you will see Jesus back and God too: You propably will see Him on TV landing a spaceship in China.

      Never discount the unbelievable.

      I find things out on my HI T Link Live.


      RISI H Link Live.

  12. Dougie Harrison says:

    Mike, I usually find your posts both perceptive, human, and appropriate, and have published here more than a few times to say so. Up till now, I have always found Bella a most constructive and intellectually-open site.

    But on this issue, for the first time since I started following Bella several years ago, I just think you are catastrophically WRONG.

    I’m now an old – and I hope fairly politically-experienced – human being. Which doesnie mean I’m atrophied I hope; one of today’s letters to the ‘National’ has required me to re-consider a previously-held positions on the trans issues for example.

    I’m not an SNP member either, I’m a socialist, and an active member of the Scottish Green Party. But I normally vote SNP, except when my vote, as for ‘list’ Green candidates for Holyrood, or in local elections, can make a real difference for the SGP. So I have no personal knowledge of Ms Cherry, or any of the other allegedly anti-Sturgeon SNP activists. Thus no reason to support them against anyone else. I judge such matters solely on what they can do for Scots independence.

    Which is precisely why I consider you catastrophically WRONG on this issue. If the anti-Scots rightwing unionist tabloids are in the slightest bit intelligent on this, it will be all over the front page of tomorrow’s ‘Scottish’ Sun, Record etc. Fortunately they are not generally either intelligent, or well-informed. So we can only pray (not that I’m a christian) that they miss it. Or it could do the cause of Scotland immense harm.

    For the first time ever, I consider your post, on the eve of elections which could open the way to independence for Scotland, deeply destructive. It could help the unionists. I’m deeply disappointed that a normally very level-headed journalist like yourself could put your name to such a negative, unbalanced and destructive piece.

    Dougie Harrison

    1. Hey Dougie
      thanks – I may be wrong – I often am. What was negative and destructive about my piece? *Genuine question*. You don’t say.

      1. Dougie Harrison says:

        Mike, the fact that you could even ask the question seriously worries me.

        I respect Cherry as a serious and significant figure in the movement. Not perhaps, quite as much as I respect Sturgeon, but still, a fair wee bit. I’m aware that neither are perfect – nae human being ever is. We’re in the runup to the most important election Scots have faced in decades (assuming Boris & co don’t use covid as an excuse to just cancel it, which is in my judgement very likely).

        The last thing we need is handing the rightwing unionist tabloids on a plate, a story to help exacerbate and EXPLOIT the differences which inevitably occur in any political movement.

        If you can’t understand that, you certainly don’t have the political judgement I thought you had, and it’s not worth my while at this time of night trying to spell it out to you.

        1. Nobody is perfect, very true.

          What was negative and destructive about my piece?

          1. Dougie Harrison says:

            Mike, I thought I’d responded to this, and sent Bella my response, but I must have failed as it’s not here. Mea culpa, I’m obviously too old and tired. Tis getting late for this auld man.

            I thought my initial response answered the question you ask. On the eve of the most important election Scots have faced in living memory, it is simply IRRESPONSIBLE for an otherwise sensible and capable person like yourself, to present the ‘Sun’ and ‘Record’ journos with even more evidence, but in a most damaging way as it’s propogated by a hitherto respected pro-independence journalist, with a silly story which could, should any of the miserable creatures read it, damage the very real prospect of Scotland winning independence soon.

            That’s all. I’ll now retire to reading about the life of Ewan McColl.

            If your need to instigate scandal on Bella has overcome your obviously deeply-held commitment to independence for Scotland, I despair. And should this not appear on Bella, I’ll know that I’ve been mysteriously spooked. Or something…

          2. So simply by stating a view that there’s a controversy and to present all the views that are already in the public domain I’m being ‘irresponsible’? I’m completely confused. This is baffling. I’m just expressing my view and this thread is full of people who disagree with me, which is quite right. I’ve not revealed any secret.

            How is that possibly ‘instigating scandal’?

    2. Jen says:

      I couldn’t agree more.

  13. Thomas Dunlop says:

    This is really frustrating.

    When the people are warming to the idea of independence and up to it, we find that the politicians are not there yet, and prefer to point score.

    I agree whole heartily that now is not the time to implode or split. We have our goal in our grasp. Don’t snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

    Get all parties to call a truce, let the blood letting be for after we have achieved our goal. We MUST escape Britannia.

  14. Tom says:

    Mike, you say “the Salmond-Cherry faction has absolutely no actual strategy for what to do next.”

    What nonsense!

    Their strategy is clear, which is to expose the corruption at the top of the SNP; at the top of the Scottish Government; at the top of Scotland’s civil service, at the top of the Crown Prosecution Service, and (probably) at the top of Police Scotland too. That’s quite a list, but it’s as simple (yet as challenging) as that.

    Oh and I forgot to mention, justice for Salmond, the man they conspired to put in jail.
    And certainly consequences for those who did the conspiring.

    Now your view could be that ‘there’s nothing to see here’, and that list is just something got up by SNP malcontents, misogynists, and old men who no longer matter in these more enlightened times, and of course Wings. But I know you don’t think that. You’re an intelligent and informed commentator who knows that there is ‘stuff’ to see (although maybe not certain how much) but would prefer that there wasn’t.

    For you, nothing should get in the way of the bigger project, even if that means compromises, big ones, democratic ones, along the way. For you, Alex Salmond out of mind and out of sight in a Scottish jail, however unjust an outcome, would have been regrettable but an acceptable price to pay, just as indy achieved by political crooks would be OK too, because we’d have got there, and the end justifies the means.

    If anything in that last paragraph is unfair, then please point to anything you have written on Bella, or anything anyone else has written on Bella, that indicates you have been prepared to shine any significant light, or indeed any light at all, on this whole sordid business, rather than leave everything shrouded in Bella darkness.

    For myself, I admit to some uncertainty about the extent of the political corruption alleged, including by me (although, given what I’ve said above, that probably comes as a surprise). However, I do know for certain there has been corruption. But unlike you, I really, really need to know the extent, and have it all exposed.

    I don’t want to live in a new Scotland created in darkness. I’d rather stay yoked to the UK and, Mike believe me, I’ve been an active supporter of indy much, much longer than you. And I still am, but not at any miserable price.

    1. “Bella Darkness”. LOLs

  15. Wul says:

    I am able to believe that A. Salmond is both a bit of a letch and the victim of a stitch up.

    In terms of independence for Scotland, I see the affair as a time-wasting “gumption trap”.

  16. John O'Dowd says:


    I’ve been a supporter of Bella for years, as you know. But on this I think you are blinded by your ‘wokeness’.

    Seriously bad stuff happening between SNP, COPFS and levels of truth and honesty in the upper levels of the SNP.

    And now we have Peter Murrell self-certifying his withdrawal of cooperation into the Sturgeon fiasco.

    Too much identity/sexual politics and virtually NO independence politics.

    We are about to blow this!

    1. John O'Dowd says:

      In addition to serious corruption in SNP, COPFS and levels of truth and honesty in the upper levels of the SN. – I failed to mention, of course, the utterly corrupt British Civil Service in Scotland

    2. I dont ask or require people to agree with me – this is a public forum for debate. The whole point is an exchange of views and debate. I don’t ask you to “support” me and you are very welcome to disagree – that’s the point! I may well be wrong – I frequently am!

      1. John O'Dowd says:

        Fine Mike,

        You don’t ask for ‘support’ and that’s ok.

        So let me put it this way. You are a fine writer, whose writings in Bella I always find interesting, thought-provoking, objective, clever and insightful.

        But on matters such as this (especially involving Cherry, Craig Murray, and others, and the stances they take) you appear to allow you objectivity faculties to be overcome by your all too clear personal feelings.

        Whatever you might think of these matters, there is an increasing volume of independent objective evidence that suggests that there is a very unhealthy nexus between the SNP leadership, the Brit Civil Service (Scottish Branch Office) Police Scotland and COPFS.

        There is disturbing evidence of political prosecutions, and an intolerable emphasis on matters (e.g sexual, gender and identity politics) that have absolutely nothing to do with Scottish independence – the ONLY purpose of the SNP – with whom we are stuck if we want independence any time soon. My own preference for political activity is class politics – I think identity politics plays right into the hands of the ruling class who get a free-pass – which is why they encourage it. But for these last 30-odd years (my time as a member of the SNP) I have recognised that we have absolutely no chance of dealing with the consequences of class-war in Scotland unless and until we first shake off the evil British State (whose fingerprints are all over the matters of present concern)

        The SNP Scot/Gov attitude to the provision of evidence to the Fabiani enquiry is utterly disgraceful, amounting to a cover-up – and similarly the Crown Office refusal to allow significant evidence to be allowed to Salmond and Murray can only fuel speculation that they (COPFS) are acting politically in contempt of Parliament and justice.

        We know what is alleged to be contained in the withheld evidence – if it is true, it is dynamite. Neither you nor I know the full truth of this.

        There is also an increasing tendency of the SNP towards authoritarian and personal cult leadership – and a married couple at the centre of this who appear to be out of control -and think themselves above democratic accountability – either within the SNP or elsewhere.

        I am sad to say that there is emerging evidence of a party that is out of control, and led by people who think they are beyond accountability and who appear control of or collude with the apparatus of the state.

        You appear not to be aware of this – or even widespread concern that this may be the case.

        I find that – in someone who is otherwise so acutely sensitive to the political environment utterly incomprehensible

        1. Hi John – I think its a bit more complicated than that. The relationship between class politics and identity politics is complex and outwith the scope of this article; the failings and problems of the SNP leadership are self evident, but you can be very aware of them without ending up believing in a Deep State Q Anon conspiracy theory. The focus of this article was to question what the strategy of a particular faction was, other than to destroy its host. Answer: there is none.

          1. John O'Dowd says:

            “without ending up believing in a Deep State Q Anon conspiracy theory”

            Low blow and insulting, Mike. Unless you are being wilfully blind, you must be aware that there is a bit more to it than that!

            I’m sure the truth will out – one way or another. In the meantime I think we can both agree that this whole spectacle is diverting us from the primary goal of independence.

          2. That wasn’t directed at you John

          3. Blair says:

            The answer cannot be written, it’s unique to everyone and can only be seen once you are finished: A link to explain


            RISI H Link Live.

        2. Craig P says:

          >>My own preference for political activity is class politics – I think identity politics plays right into the hands of the ruling class who get a free-pass – which is why they encourage it.

          On a wider point John – nail on head. True inequality is economic. Sort that out, and the rest will follow.

        3. Bill Craig says:

          Well said, John, I agree with everything you’ve written there.

          I’ve been politically active for a bit longer than you, and I’m horrified by the current situation. No big organisation would even consider having the leader married to the chief executive. That alone reeks of corruption, and if those two people didn’t know it was just plain wromg there’s something wrong with them. If they did know, then that raises the question of why did they do it.

          As for the folk who reckon the current First Minister is a strong leader, I have to disagree. She has a sharp brain, she’s a great speaker, and is great at presentation, but too many people, including potential rivals, have been thrown under the proverbial bus. A strong leader encourages dissent, and does not need (and would not have supported) the new SNP system of central control. The current outlook is bleak. I don’t plan on resigning from the party, but I know people who have done just that.

    3. S Kennedy says:

      John, seriously, by definition woke and it’s political meaning, please evidence how anything in Mike’s piece is woke…..

  17. Dougie Harrison says:

    I must say Mike, that find it strange that when I wrote my last response to you, my previous one had not appeared, though written a wee while previously . But when I printed the whole thing, it had mysteriously re-appeared. Please forgive an auld marxist his worries, but this feels rather uncomfortable.

    Perhaps I’m better not responding to Bella in future. I’ve battled with MI5 and associated UK spooks before, though it was a wee while ago. 1969 to be precise. Concerning the last match the apartheid Springboks played at Murrayfield. It’s in my memory as I’ve recently written about the matter in my political memoir. I didn’t expect my youthful political paranoia to be given life again here.

    I’ll retire gracefully to bed now with my biography of Ewan McColl. Goodnight.

  18. Paul says:

    Far and away the most sensible thing I’ve read all day on this.

  19. Malcolm Kerr says:

    Well said, John. It is the authoritarianism I find most embarrassing, having been in the movement for fifty years, though the sheer incompetence comes a close second. How can we possibly expect the nation to embrace this approach in any referendum? “Let’s work together as if we are living in the early days of a better nation”. Certainly doesn’t feel like it to me.

  20. Foghorn Leghorn says:

    Daena fash yersels. It’s just an unremarkable tale of everyday life within the forcefield of power struggles that comprise a political party, especially in the absence of a unifying opposition. Factionalism is part of the lifeblood of non-republican, ‘command and control’ politics.

  21. Jim Sansbury says:

    If these egotistical bastards (all of ’em, both sides) screw this chance of independence they will never be forgiven
    We are SO CLOSE.

  22. gehetacicl says:

    Hm. A lot to unpack here as they say.

    First of all, the trans stuff is clearly being weaponized against the SNP left dissidents in the style of antisemitism within Corbyn’s Labour. Cynical machinations which ought to be condemned but almost never are except by those who have already resigned themselves to political irrelevance (Whiteman, Cherry) like dissidents in the USSR. Needless to say, this is not how a healthy democracy functions. Robin McAlpine’s piece from a few months ago flagging up the SNP’s illiberalism hit the nail on the head. No matter how partisan McAlpine may be, this would be the moment for a healthy political culture to start rewinding the tape. We don’t have, nor do we seem to want to have, such a culture.

    Second, how far we have apparently fallen from the post-referendum rhetoric of Big Tentism in the SNP and pluralism in the independence movement. Those who reject dogmas about gender cooked up from New Left entrails in US lobbying shops, and disseminated via corporate Big Brother social media are not welcome. Those who criticize the neoliberalism of the SNP are warmly invited to shut up or join the SGP. Even former anarchist/activist subculture types (yes, I’m referencing Indymedia) have finally capitulated to the “wheesht for indy” stereotype. The latter fawn over the governing party’s “popularity” and hark back to the New Labour era, as if that was an era they themselves did not utterly despise for its universal empowerment of centrist sell outs.

    Bringing me to point 3, the SGP seem to somehow be the “licensed franchisees” of proportional representation and small partyism in Scotland at this point. Yes, goes the attitude in the Respectable Yes Movement: you can vote for a second pro-indy party on the List, but only if it’s the “virtuous” and “traditional” SGP . Who are basically now an SNP clone and functional appendage, with the “idealism” knob turned up a bit and the “getting into power” knob turned down a bit. Convenient arrangement that eh. Reminds me a bit of Swedish politics, and that might, in a sense, be no accident. Alternatives like the ISP have probably been snookered by Sturgeon’s careful manouevering (for this I’ll grant Sturgeon credit.) Namely conducting “the purge” too soon before the elections to allow the opposition to coalesce elsewhere. Simple and effective. Although we may yet see an ISP/List coup d’main like we saw in the NEC elections fuelled by simple disgust.

    4. The international dimension. The SNP ape, and would presumably like to cultivate, the neoliberal, identity politics obsessed US Democrats, while the bolshie nat fringe came out of the Russian disinfo ecosystem with its whiff of yer da’s Stalinism. Where’s the “independence” in any of this crap? I mean, all of it goes well beyond Realpolitik and into the realms of naked careerism.

  23. H Scott says:

    Alex Salmond, Mark Hirst and Craig Murray, amongst others, are trying to get all the documents and evidence regarding the Salmond case fully publicly disclosed.
    Nicola Sturgeon, Peter Murrell, the Lord Advocate and Leslie Evans, amongst others, are trying to stop that full public disclosure.
    Who then, would it seem, has most to fear from such disclosure?

  24. SleepingDog says:

    Perhaps the question is rather whether political parties (essentially old-fashioned paternalistic representation), can fulfil a democratic role in modern society, and what better alternatives to developing policy and providing governance there are. Sure, the SNP could be seen as a temporary vehicle that will have served its purpose if it crashlands on Independence, but do we really want to be ruled by factions reformed by those scuttling from the wreck? Perhaps an article updating us on something like deliberative democracy would be of interest.

  25. John MacDonald says:

    I fail to understand the plaudits Cherry gets. Even those who see her massive shortcomings are still prone to describing her as an “intelligent and gifted politician”. But where’s the evidence?

    She’s good at arguing with people at Westminster, but there are several SNP MPs who fit into that category. They manage to do it without coming across as smug too, so they’re more effective. However, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that a QC can argue with people.

    Other than that, what does she actually bring to the table? Her lack of leadership skills are evidenced by her inability to be elected to any leadership role in the Westminster Group – not for want of ambition. Her sacking yesterday was seemingly brought on, partly at least, by her inability to work as part of a team. Her behaviour on social media – whether people agree with her opinions or not – is extremely naive for someone who seeks political power. And she’s been so painfully bad at hiding her leadership ambitions.

    All of that could be perhaps ignored slightly if she was a canny political operator, but she’s not. She’s a one-trick pony. Even her “big wins” in court in recent years ultimately did nothing – Johnson still had his election, and Brexit still happened. They were traffic cones to be navigated around slightly, rather than roadblocks. Again, it should come as no surprise that a QC thinks court cases are the answer to everything, including silencing critics.

    Politics is full of ex-lawyers. Most are politicians who used to be lawyers – Cherry is a lawyer who happens to be an MP. She has yet to adapt to the realities of the political world. A truly “gifted” politician would not have ended up in her current predicament.

    The irony of Cherry’s popularity is that it highlights a particular hypocrisy with many in the independence movement – the idea that the SNP MP group is somehow the party’s “A-Team”. It reveals a subconscious agreement with unionists that Westminster is a superior parliament to Holyrood – a bit like how every blogger who rails against the mainstream media secretly wants nothing more than to be accepted by them. They would deny this and say that it’s simply that the 2015 election came before the 2016 election, leading to a “lost generation” of talented politicians who are “trapped” at Westminster, but some of those MPs will tell you themselves that they don’t have nearly as much work as their Holyrood colleagues, and that it’s easy to look good when you’re just shouting at Tories all the time. Some of them have fallen for their own hype, seduced by the Westminster lifestyle and being treated as a big shot by the metropolitan media. But it’s noticeable that the ones who have actually achieved things – rather than simply attaching themselves to ultimately-pointless court cases – are those who just knuckle down and get on with things, rather than spending all day on Twitter promoting themselves.

    An over-hyped politician who can’t stop drawing attention to herself has been bumped in favour of colleagues who can just get on with the job. That’s really all there is to it. And about time too.

    1. Geoff Caldwell says:

      Well said.

    2. Malcolm Kerr says:

      Good points, John, and well put. Speaking in the HoC has turned out to be largely a waste of time, if not a repeated reminder of the humiliating position our country is in. Where’s the evidence that any of the Westminster group have done something really valuable, like making links with progressive opinion in England, making connections with friends in Europe and North America. London is the ideal location for all that. It seems to have taken only five years for the group to develop the same sort of disconnect with Scotland that Labour had in 2015. Though we seem to have forgotten, Fletcher of Saltoun said all it in 1706: “It will be turned on the Scots with a vengeance; the Scots members may dance around to all eternity in this trap of their own making”.

      1. You’re right Malcolm. Where is the soft-power? The agitation, the disruption? I don’t see it anywhere.

    3. Paul says:

      Absolutely John. The ego is strong with this one. It’s very clear to me that Cherry is far from leadership material, and it is a shame that she won’t put her obvious talent to use in furtherance of the primary objective – as a team player.

  26. Michael says:

    Can you please provide some references to support your following assertions?

    – “They are convulsed by rage…”?;
    – “… and are infuriated when polling for Yes, for the SNP and personally for Sturgeon continues to be incredibly high.”?;
    – “Each new positive poll sends them into new plumes of rage, but this rage has nowhere to go.”?;
    – “the party they hate”?

    Isn’t it healthy to have different forces within a hegemonic party?

    Are you in favour of the current leaderships independence economic blue print position going into the next election and possibly future referendum?

    If you replaced NS for say Putin anyone would think that you are distinctly anti-democracy.

  27. Jim Sansbury says:

    What needs to happen here is for the big ego’s to shut the fuck up and the rest of us to concentrate on independence.
    The big egos are feeding the unionists red meat right now.
    The May elections are 4 months away
    Shut up the lot of you or I join the Greens!

  28. Rocksie67 says:

    Interesting article and sort of sums up some of my thinking.
    The conspiracy theories around the Salmond affair are really becoming quite bizzare .They all basically rest on the basis that the complainers were lying and that Alex Salmond has been the victim of some sort of stitch up involving Nicola Sturgeon Civil Servants and the Lord Advocate
    The bottom line is Salmonds defence in court was based on claiming that his actions were inappropriate but not criminal .Why anyone would base a campaign to get rid of the current leader by backing a man who admitted making inappropriate advances to junior members of staff .

    The second issue of trans rights .I wholly support the idea that minority groups should be protected but I can understand why some women will be concerned about preserving woman only spaces .I can’t however hear the arguments because the whole debate has become toxic and most discussions on social media descend into abuse .It’s difficult therefore to get a grasp of the arguments among all the rage and anger.

    The third point in regard to the leadership’s slow progress to Indy. As far as I can remember there has always been a faction who accuse the leadership of selling out on Indy .Alex Neil Kenny MacKaskill have been shouting about it for years In fact that group were against Devolution in 1997
    Like today they offer no strategy to get Indy bar some rather bizzare proposal to dissolve the Union .As if Westminster and Unionist Scotland would just stand back and say on you go.

    It’s pretty obvious to me what the plan is get a majority in May use the anger provoked by Johnson saying No to pass a bill Parliament organising Indyref2 then that leaves Johnson with problem of does he go to court to try and block it .Going to Court to try and over rule the verdict of the ballot is not a good look
    I don’t think it’s a courts place to over rule the ballot box and that’s why I disagree with Martin Keating’s legal action as it is accepting the role of the courts to intervene in political issues.
    My hunch is that if Johnson loses in court he will have delivered a resounding Yes vote in the referendum.
    If Johnson manages to get a court order to prevent Indyref2 we still have the moral high ground that holding Indyref2 is the democratic will of the people.
    Ultimately if support for Independence starts hitting 60% it is futile for Westminster to try and hold on to Scotland it will only be a matter of time .

    One thing is certain no majority in May and no Indyref2 . It could get worse do you trust Westminster and the Unionist parties with a majority in Holyrood not to push through a new Act of Union making it virtually impossible for Scotland to leave for example making it a condition that all constituent parts of the Union agree by a referendum before anyone can leave .
    We are playing for very high stakes in May and some people should remember that before the put their own personal interests first

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