Mission Creep

The committee investigating the handling of complaints against Alex Salmond reaches a crescendo not today, but next week. Predictable sections of the press and broadcast media can hardly contain themselves. The media elite: Andrew Neil, Fraser Nelson, Alex Massie, senior voices within the BBC, and others are straining at the bit to see Nicola Sturgeon destroyed. Their message is echoed in the House of Commons and at Holyrood. They have managed to shift the agenda from the handling of the complaints to a far wider remit: trashing the entire governance of Scotland and painting them all as corrupt and broken in every sense. That such a shift should be echoed by elements of the new media that previously supported Scottish independence isn’t surprising at all if you have followed their trajectory. Individuals contorted by multiple phobias that have consumed and possessed them and fantasists that are now reduced to bribing civil servants are a disgrace to the movement.

Presenting an astonishing brass neck the disgraced Tory minister Liam Fox took to his feet in the House of Commons this week to pronounce that: “Following yesterday’s accusations by Alex Salmond against Nicola Sturgeon’s govt, I asked in the House of Commons what mechanisms we have to ensure that the conduct of the Scottish Government does not bring politics in the whole of the United Kingdom into international disrepute.”

Magnus Llewellin at The Times thundered with glee: “Alex Salmond’s testimony could end any hopes of second referendum” – and he was one of the more restrained editors. At the beginning of the week the media erupted in ecstasy about Salmond’s “explosive revelations”, yet these were exactly the same “revelations” that had been shunted about the fetid backwaters of blogs and opinion columns for six months and more. Absolutely nothing was new. Revelations there were none. Today we await on tenterhooks. I predict the same nothingness to be hyped beyond recognition.

But if the triumphalism of the media might seem like all is in peril and the end is nigh, it hides a sharper truth.

They are utterly desperate.

This. Is. All. They’ve. Got.

This week also saw polling revealing a majority backed Scottish independence for the 22nd survey in a row.

This week also saw the much vaunted Union Unit binned after a year of farce sackings and debacle.


What the polling really shows us is that – despite relentless and surround-sound attacks on the SNP and the First Minister, very little of a dent has been made on either the case for independence or the probability of. a huge pro-indy majority at Holyrood. But on it goes. Despite the fact that Jim Sillars has been “unable” to vote SNP since 2016, Baroness Davidson joins the hunt:



The media frenzy is not completely uniform. Kenny Farquharson remarked on Tuesday (‘Alex Salmond inquiry: Forget talk of a conspiracy, this is about revenge. The former first minister’s submission to Holyrood is full of slippery phrases and no evidence’) that “There is no evidence of a conspiracy. There is only assertion and bluster. There is only dudgeon and petulance. There is only Salmond’s barely containable lust for revenge.

He concluded: “It seems to me Salmond’s position can be summed up thus: “I should not have been held accountable for my alleged behaviour while first minister. I am angry that my former colleagues refused to hush up or divert complaints about my alleged sexual misconduct. I am furious that they assisted police conducting a criminal inquiry. I am outraged that they put support for complainants ahead of personal fealty to me. Meanwhile I take no responsibility for my behaviour. I make no apology.”

But if there is mission creep from the salivating unionist press and the Tories in Holyrood and Westminster, there is too from the alt-nats and hate bloggers who have shifted from a line about “Justice for Salmond” to “destroy the SNP and Sturgeon”. They are now engaging in wild hagiography and revisionism. Salmond must not just be saved he must be resurrected (and before Easter too).

Some of this is deeply embarrassing. In a post titled “What would Alex Do?” Paul Kavanagh writes (with apparent seriousness):

” … some of Alex Salmond’s supporters are taking to social media to declare that because of the treatment of the former first Minister they will not be voting SNP in the May elections. I believe that this is premature, and an attempt to prejudge what Alex would himself advise his supporters to do. Alex Salmond has not yet made any public statement about how he would prefer his supporters to vote in May, and until such time as he does I believe that his supporters should err on the side of caution and not do anything which may prove prejudicial to the cause and the party …”.

He continues: “Alex Salmond loves the SNP, his beef is with the party’s current leader and those close to her, not with the party as a whole. Alex Salmond knows that the SNP is a whole lot bigger than him, and a whole lot bigger than Nicola Sturgeon. He does not want to bring the entire SNP down just before a crucial election which could prove to hold the key to independence because he has a dispute with its current leader, all the more so because this would be severely prejudicial to any hopes he might harbour of returning to a senior role within the party should the present leadership stand down.”

This idea – denied by some and cherished by others – that Alex Salmond is going to walk out of this and take up “a senior role within the party” speaks only to the fact that such people operate within a sealed sub-culture and are permanently detached from reality.

Among all this frenzy reality continues for the rest of society. Polling from Professor John Curtice said that the Salmond affair was unlikely to affect the May elections, in fact most people outwith the media cliques and Twittersphere seem remarkably bored by the whole affair which has now stretched on interminably. Two simple facts emerge out of this morass: one that the unionist case and strategy lies broken and exposed and they are now 100% reliant only on trashing Sturgeon (and the institutions of Scotland too if they can); two that the mass of people are focused on our own lockdown hell than the shenanigans and maneuvering of desperate political groupings and players.

Such is the hypocrisy of the media pack even Alasdair Campbell noted it:


Jackie Baillie has joined the baying mob, this week claiming that the feud between Salmond and Sturgeon was “destroying public trust”, saying: “We have seen this week that there is something rotten at the core of the SNP, and it’s poisoning our democratic institutions.” This rhetoric is part of a narrative being played out that every institution in Scotland is broken and corrupt. It’s a bleak nihilism that is a fig-leaf for parties that are looking at annihilation in May ‘s elections. Their only hope is that they can somehow prevent these elections proceeding or they can find a way to destroy Nicola Sturgeon. While that might seem like a bleak prospectus, it is only a sign of their own weakness.




Comments (86)

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  1. Alasdair Macdonald says:

    Thanks, yet again, Mr Small, for a cool and temperate response viewing things through a wider- angled lens.

    This is, indeed, an unhappy state of affairs, but, it is not happening in a vacuum. As you indicate there are other matters, beyond Scotland, to be considered.

    In addition, as happened with the lead up to the criminal trial of Mr Salmond, most of the media had him found guilty, until the evidence presented in court did not convince the jury.

    We have not heard all the evidence and the cross questioning.

    As your title indicates the Committee has indulged in ‘mission creep’ during its investigations.

  2. Tom Ultuous says:

    Great piece Mike and “This. Is. All. They’ve. Got.” sums it up.

  3. George S Gordon says:

    Media coverage of the committee proceedings is predictably triumphalist, as you say. The challenges to the FM from the opposition at Holyrood are also predictable, and no doubt within the bounds of allowed behaviour. However I do wonder if Jackie Baillie, a committee member, should have had the propriety to await the committee conclusions before challenging the FM in parliament.

    I’m rather more irked by the fact that Murdo Fraser, also a committee member, has been given a platform in the Scotsman to write a number of vitriolic articles where he states his conclusions before the committee has concluded. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the behaviour of a number of political and non-political actors is being tried in effect by a jury of their “peers”. Jury members are not allowed to do what Murdo Fraser has done – so why is this allowed?

    1. Derek Thomson says:

      Turdo Fraser, who has never been elected to anything, by anyone. Toom Tabard, and typical Tory.

    2. Helen Samfat says:

      Jackie Baillie is openly going to continue using her position on the committee to discredit FM Nicola Sturgeon. This person should have no place on that committee as she is prejudiced against the FM. Her appalling attitude should have had her removed from the chamber on Thursday. Jealousy is her motivation, poisonous diatribe spilled from her mouth like a venomous snake.

      1. Gordon Pearson! says:

        Totally agree

  4. Mike Gunn says:

    Great article. It lays bare the desperation of the unionist media and ‘politicians’. When even Alastair Campbell sees it you know its strange times!
    Not nearly enough written in the press as to how this enquiry has been hijacked into a collective mission to destroy SNP, its leader and with it any chance of Independence.
    Good to see that recognition start here.

    1. Iain MacLean says:

      Salmond thought he was above the law, the FM thought otherwise, Salmond took this badly and is now out to destroy the FM and all else that is destroyed as a result is acceptable collateral in his mind!

      So thanks to Salmond’s all the shoe leather many of us have worn down during multiple campaigns may go to waste at the very time we are poised to make the key break through on the road to freedom.

      Loyalty to the leader who is riding high in the polls is the ingredient for success and not loyalty to a discredited ex leader who is on a vendetta to destroy in-order to rebuild a reputation that is irreparable!

      1. SleepingDog says:

        @Iain MacLean, “Loyalty to the leader”? What’s that in German?

  5. colm mccloskey says:

    Was lifelong SNP supporter Jim Sillars not formally in the Labour party and Scottish Labour Party?

    1. Iain says:

      And he’s been bemoaning the SNP since about 1992 when failed to retain the Govan seat and then had a public falling-out with, ironically enough, Alex Salmond.

      1. Alec Lomax says:

        He lost the Govan seat with bad grace. Lambasting the electorate as ’90-minute patriots’ for having the temerity not to re-elect him.

    2. Chris Ballance says:

      Nice point, and very true. He founded the Scottish Labour Party with Alex Neil in 1974/5 as a breakaway from Labour. It was the first political party I joined. It died when he organised a kick out of militant members who had joined and were its activist base.

      Thanks Mike for some good old positivity. The rabid ranting sounds like it has been co-ordinated for a while – hopefully we have now reached peak rant.

      1. Hamish Scottie Dog says:

        I agree. I’m glad of this sane take on it all. Peak rant is a better way to describe it too. Crescendos are not reached….they are the ‘getting louder’ ..not the climax….(I hope Mike will forgive me airing this personal word related bug bear from this musician!)

      2. Alec Lomax says:

        I recall Private Eye describing the SLP as ‘McTrotsky’s Private Army’.

  6. James Mills says:

    What this farrago amply displays is the complete and utter hypocrisy , not to mention collaboration , of the Labour/Libdem/Tory parties in Scotland ( and further afield ) in attempting to undermine the duly elected Government of Scotland , aided and abetted by the most right-wing media in the West .

    They don’t give a fig for the people in whose name ( god save us ! ) they supposedly speak .
    All we get is bitter , endless and self-serving political games . And in the middle of a Pandemic !

    They may succeed in blackening the names of some in the Scottish Government by their continuous bellyaching and mudslinging – but where is their anger at the clearly incompetent regime that rules the UK ?
    Where is their anger at the countless thousands who have needlessly died ?
    Where is their anger at the in-your-face corruption that is openly displayed by the Tory Government ?
    Where is their anger at the double standards applied to the Scottish Government and Boris’ Bungling B*stards ?

    I hope that the voters remember the lies and the misinformation and the dead when it comes to the ballot in May and , in time , the referendum on Independence . Unfortunately even independence will not rid us of the Baillies and the Davidsons and the Rennies – but at least THEY will live to see an Independent Scotland . There are too many who should have but won’t .

    1. Chris says:

      Well said

    2. Ian Graham says:

      Agree 100%.

    3. Robert Galloway says:

      James Mills what you said exactly my thoughts,I will add that the S.N.P. Government has worked in the interests of the peo-ple of Scotland This list of improvements is end less When wage rises have been offered a number of our representatives have re-invested back into the system.This is a massive difference to the rises that come through Westminster have been spent on themselves,and many are already wealthy.To think that they should top up their salaries with offshore manipulation is greedy and disgusting!(privileged!).That criminals chose to save their offshore havens rather than population(122.000 deaths!),sell the N.H.S. poorly prepared for pandemic,and using SERCO does not make it right. Comparing these parasites and chancers to the Scottish Government is a poor joke.Billions for false and none existent P.P.E, denying Scotland,Wales N.Ireland,sending P.P.E. to offshore havens.Perversions on a massive scale.Leaving the E.U. the Tories joined for money,and left to save their money.The Internal Market Bill, backed up The Human COVERT intelligence, both secretive,with no scrutiny. Putting your X in the right place really matters,Our resources could be put to better use,our young peoples future,the environment,the N.H.S.our culture,history,language.more like the Nordic Peoples.

  7. Brian McGrail says:

    So Bella is a space for open and honest debate, and not an echo chamber, like many other blogging and social media sites. Let’s put that to the test.
    I am not a member of the SNP (never have been), and in Scottish elections I have mainly voted Green (when I can) and for the SNP as a strategy. I do not conflate the SNP with independence – they are, in the last instance, different things. Independence is about more than one party.

    Your citation of Farquharson has him referring to the ‘Alex Salmond Inquiry’. He is inaccurate on this. The inquiry is into the Scottish Government and its civil servants, and the extent to which they botched complaints against Alex Salmond which first emerged in October 2017 (in the wake of the ‘Me too’ movement). The Scottish Government had an existing harassment procedure in place under their ‘Fairness at Work’ (FaW) policy, which when introduced gave Scots a smugness about the superiority of their governance over that of historically arcane ‘Westmonster’.

    However, there was a problem with FaW, in that it only (like most employment policies applied by employers) applied to current employees (and, in the SG case, ministers). The decision was take to revise this and create a new policy which would cover ‘former ministers’. Have you ever heard the like? The ultimate sanction an employer has is to sack someone without compensation (redundancy) for misdemeanours and bringing the company into disrepute. The employer is not the ‘police’ nor the criminal justice system. When complainants came forward against Alex Salmond, who was no longer an employee (and thus the employer had no work-based sanction), the only thing which could have been done was refer the complainers to the police in the instance that a crime had been committed (e.g. sexual assault). The latter was not actioned. Emails ping-ponged between senior civil servants in which it was agreed that the employer (SG) would never inform the police without the complainants consent.

    The policy was changed to cover former ministers, though the initial complainant (who first approached her manager in October 2017) became Complainant B (not A) when her complaint was formalised in January 2018, AFTER the new policy had come into effect. Aspects of the old FaW were removed, such as stages of mediation and arbitration (i.e. via ACAS). The appointing Investigating Officer had prior knowledge of and contact with both complainants. A report was produced and sent to Leslie Evans (head of the civil service) for a ‘decision’ and a Decision Report was produced which stated that the complaints were to be upheld. Evans then wanted to hold a press conference to announce the findings (and basically name and shame Alex Salmond, a former employee).

    Meanwhile, Salmond had contacted the ultimate person in charge (Sturgeon) to ask for ‘mediation’ and ‘arbitration’. Sturgeon now claims this was Salmond seeking ‘collusion’. Sturgeon recused herself – nothing to do with her. She hadn’t known about the case and once she did she had a clear conflict of interest. No mediation nor arbitration was offered. Salmond’s lawyers then sought a court interdict to stop the press conference until the Decision Report and process could be judicially reviewed. However, a criminal within the SG (who knew of the case) leaked the details to the Daily Record before the court’s interdict could be applied.

    The case became public – salivation amongst the MSM. Salmond’s lawyers proceeded with the judicial review, which announced the procedure and been tinged with bias and ‘unlawful’. But by this point there was a criminal case being investigated by the police, after the SG had, indeed, contacted the police without the consent of the original complainers. We all know that Salmond then won the criminal case, which included the 2 original complaints (given alternative letters of the alphabet – Garavelli’s Herald article makes the changes clear), plus 11 other charges by 7 other women. The jury (9 women, a majority) ruled that the claimed events did not happen as the prosecution stated. They did not meet the requirements for criminal conviction. So the events were an employment / civil matter – should the SG have gone for mediation or arbitration when Salmond’s lawyers offered those options?

    Clearly something stinks, and trying to make things out as if Alex Salmond’s behaviour is the issue in the current inquiry is distraction. Also, the opposition are going to behave as the opposition do. I was reminded on social media recently about how SNP activists in Blackford’s constituency behaved towards Charles Kennedy (who was clearly a troubled man). Can you really blame the opposition when the botching of a complaint process started with actions taken by the current administration?

    Habeas corpus, the rule of law, due diligence – these things matter. What went wrong with the Scottish Government needs to be known about, and those responsible need to be held to account. Alex Salmond can sit smug because he’s already been tried in a criminal court of law.

    1. MacNaughton says:

      I agree with your description of events. What is inexplicable to me is that Mike Small continues to pretend otherwise….

      Why kind of a website has Bella become? It is actively covering up – in the most generous interpretation of events – serial stupidity, unaccountability and the most rank and total incompetence by Sturgeon and Murrel….

      When Nicola Sturgeon said yesterday Salmond “has questions to answer about his past conduct” is she forgetting he has already been to court and was found not guilty? How can she try and turn a parliamentary enquiry into her govt’s handling of the affair into another trial of Salmond?

      Sturgeon and Murrel and Evans should all resign at once….they are taking us for idiots….

      1. Jim Sansbury says:

        Och awa an’ bile yier heid wee man!

      2. Iain says:

        It is hard to disagree with your criticism of the ever bitchy Bella, always eager to put the boot into other – dare I say more successful – independence bloggers.

        It is a “disgrace to the movement” to sit down and meekly look the other way when potential corruption of an extremely grave nature needs looking into as a matter of urgency.

        1. MacNaughton says:


          I really don’t share your appraisal of the other independence blogs at all. I think that both Stu Campbell and Craig Murray are slightly loopy, and I don’t mean any disrespect to them by saying that. But to be offering a reward for a key actor’s testimony, as Craig Murray does, points to megalomania. As for Campbell referencing the fall of Saigon yesterday, well, I mean what does that say about his mental health? Both are pretty outright pretty much batshit crazy, and Campbell is downright offensive and nasty…

          But Bella has toed the SNP leadership line, and it just shows that the independent media is subject to the same influences as the mainstream media, for whatever reasons in the case of Bella…

          1. SleepingDog says:

            @ MacNaughton, yes, I saw that. How is £25,000 any incentive to a “public spirited whistleblower”? If every article ends with an appeal for donations to keep going, where does this dosh come from? Seems counterproductive.

            Still, I see among the main problems here: official and cultural secrecy. People in office behaving part of the time as if out of sight, out of mind, beyond public scrutiny or accountability, and the longer they are there, the more time for cults of personality (a form of corruption of politics no less than lucrative motives) to arise. The chronic problem with the current system is that it needs whistleblowers, a sign of sickness not health.

          2. Don’t we all have a spare £25k lying about our eight bedroomed house MacNaughton?

            Bella hasn’t “toed” any line – we just have an analysis which differs from your own.

            I’m not sure what “it just shows that the independent media is subject to the same influences as the mainstream media, for whatever reasons in the case of Bella…” is supposed to mean?

          3. MacNaughton says:

            Well, Bella, you yourself informed us all on another, recent, thread that you were party to confidential information about this Marx Bros saga that the rest of are not. That would suggest to me that you have connections with the upper echelons of the SNP….

            In what meaningful way has your editorial line differed from the SNP leadership? You are pretty much on the same page as them it seems to me. Salmond may be a lech, but that doesn’t mean you can use all the powers of the State to try to bring him down. Sorry, that is precisely what cannot happen under the rule of law, and it is no minor matter that Leslie Evans seems guilty to me of abusing her official, tax payer funded position….that is not her job.

            The obvious thing for the Scot gov to have done – for all our sakes, but first and foremost the ladies in question – would be to have initiated a process of mediation between Salmond and the parties involved, with a view to addressing their grievances and reaching an amicable settlement. That is not only the most sensible thing, but also what the Fairness at Work code calls for.

            But the Scot govt refused to countenance that and sought to make the affair public. At which it all begins to get seriously out of hand….

          4. I am in possession of information that is not in the public domain – your leap that this must be because I have “connections with the upper echelons of the SNP” is incorrect.

            It is not just me – or the SNP leadership – that find the completely unsubstantiated wild conspiracies incoherent and ridiculous, it is wide swathes of Scottish society.

          5. MacNaughton says:

            I don’t believe there is a grand conspiracy either, Bella…

            More like a run of cock-ups which, when you put them all together, might resemble a conspiracy if you wanted to look at them like that (as a bairn, I would often lie in the park and look up at the sky and see lions, elephants and horses in the shapes of the clouds.)

            It’s pretty unethical of you to have a juicy titbit and keep it all to yourself. What kind of a journalist do you call yourself?

            As for Salmond, if you look at some of the old footage of him and Sturgeon together, back in the days when she had the straight mullet, you can really see how invasive he is of her space. He is far too touchy and feely, and in some of the footage, she looks very uncomfortable as he hugs her or kisses her or maybe she just despised him all these years. Have you noticed that? Look at that footage with care, Bella….

            There is obviously a big background story here we will never know fully about….

          6. MacNaughton says:

            I think what we have on our hands Bella is a huge male-female gulf in comprehension.

            Touchy feely and no doubt domineering Salmond, who refused to fade into obscurity after leaving office, finally goes too far and when these allegations emerge, the SNP leadership seek to make it public in order that he get his comeuppance.

            They expect him to suck it up and be chastised because he has clearly been in the wrong (as he himself has admitted) but instead, he fights back. The Scottish gov then lose the plot and turn to the police despite the women not seeking that, and the whole thing spirals out of control….

            It doesn’t require anything as complex and calculated as a conspiracy….just a few powerful people with very big egos whose careers are at stake…

          7. MacNaughton says:

            Look Bella, the MeToo movement explicitly aims at calling out and publicly shaming powerful men with the aim of ending or at least impairing their careers.

            This is the context for the backdating of the Fairness at Work code. The timing is everything as are the events which followed, right at peak Me Too.

            What the Scot gov wanted to do was in line with the aims of MeToo… And what Salmond claimed yesterday the Scot Gov’s aim has been all along broadly match that naming and shaming program of MeToo.

            The only problem is that govt can’t act like an individual or any other organization in civil society. Gov must follow procedure, and what the rules say. Without exception.

            My reading is that Leslie Evans and others like her thought they could treat Salmond like another Me Too case….they wanted to go public with the allegations, and govt just can’t do that….it’s just stupidity on the part of the Scot gov…

            By the way, the complainers could have come out and named and shamed Salmond, as so many women have done against powerful.men all over the world….why they didn’t is a mystery to me….why the need for anonymity?

            I can understand it in certain cases, but not in this one….

          8. Iain says:

            @MacNaughton Loopy or not, the gentlemen you reference have provided both information and a perspective generally unavailable elsewhere. Both will be vindicated, and perhaps ‘validated’, if they are proven right on all this. The questionable silence of other commentators sticks out like a sore thumb.

            And one should never criticise the earnest and inimitable wee ginger dug – that is just not on! I mean come tae grips ……..

          9. scrandoonyeah says:

            Do you think that the Yours for Scotland, Grousebeater, Barrhead boy, Gordon Dangerfield, Random Public Journal blogs are all loopy as well? If you do maybe try connecting all the loops. They might surprise you.

          10. Bob says:

            So anyone who doesn’t give support to Nicola Sturgeon is to be personally criticised. Got it. That also seems to be the postiton at WGD one of the few independence bloggers given space at Bella.

            Independence should be the priority not any one person. I would also point out, as you seem to be allowed to use this space to slander Alex Salmond, the police employed 22 officers interviewing over 400 people trying to gather evidence of conduct that supported the accusers (accusations which were all proved in court to be lies), and found nothing. I take encouragement from the Scottish legal system to uphold the truth. Your willingness to attemp to undermine the Scottish legal system in the media gives zero credibility to anything you say.

      3. Robert Galloway says:

        The people looking for these answers,seem to think it is another trial.London branch parties going beyond their remit> Having missed out on Alec Salmond,the new target being Nicola Sturgeon,they would far prefer this witch hunt to take both out. This case of complaint was 10 years old?? If Alec lost? years in prison,but these complainers lost! then what? That is Salmond, questioned!The S.G. Nicola to come for questioning,I am not suggesting interigation but these anonymous women should at least be questioned,privately one to one. The only people trying to take over !Jackie Baillie and other party members,implicating Nicola Sturgeon,before even Nicola has a right to reply DESPERATE!! I might be fishing here, did not Leslie Evans and David Mundell both work in the Scottish Office together??I have not seen Mundell since he was moved! More to uncover, but i will be supporting Independence,what is coming from this so called democracy is far worse!! Wastemonster!

    2. Craig P says:

      Thank you Brian for reminding us what this inquiry is actually about.

      And it is still about what you have just described, whether or not we believe Salmond got away with sexual harassment, or Sturgeon stitched him up with false claims from her pals.

    3. Christiane says:

      Thank you for putting the state of affairs so clearly…regardless of personal like or dislike of AS or NS..there was a series of events which took place which raises concerns and these should be investigated. As far as the repercussions of this unpleasant fankle on a vote for Independence any one with an ounce….or gram even, would vote according to their wish for or against such, and not for personalities. Personally, I hope that Scotland does get her Independence asap and then we can get down to the business of using political parties in an honest and democratic way, with accountability and transparency being cornerstones for our future MSPs

    4. Jacob Bonnari says:

      Thanks for that objective statement of how we got to where we are now.

      What you have written is of course what Kenny Farquharson et al (and that includes you too Mike Small) should have written.

  8. Angus Farquhar says:

    Thanks Mike
    this really needs to be said, it is odd how parties and leaders are often attacked from within much more effectively than from outside… especially when they have been in power for a long time.

    The posturing of opposition politicians is utterly transparent…..but Salmond’s relentless pursuit of his perceived wrongdoers is truly tragic, I hope this deeply unsavoury moment in our story passes soon…. the timing in endless lockdown compounds how painful and distracting it feels.

    1. Julian Smith says:

      Salmond’s relentless pursuit – seriously? Alex Salmond did not set up the Enquiry. He did ask to appear before it. He has been summoned to appear. He has given no interviews, made no statements, held no press conferences since his acquittal last year. He wrote his evidence statement for the Committee. But, for reasons that are still not clear, the Committee decided it could not be published, although it had already been published. The possibility of prosecution prevented Alex from appearing before the Committee. These steps were then repeated. There is still some evidence not being released. The relentless pursuit that you refer to is the repetitive recounting of these events in the media. Alex Salmond does not control the media, or the Crown Office or the Lord Advocate so there is nothing he can do about any of what is happening other than give his version of events and try to avoid another Court appearance charged with some sort of Contempt of Court offence.

      1. Julian Smith says:

        Correction: “He did NOT ask to appear before it”.

  9. Iain macphail says:

    Spot on article.
    It chimes with a narrative I’ve subscribed to for a while – whenever a right wing government makes an accusation against an opponent, there is a good chance the criticism is actually projection (ie the r/w gov has identified it’s own weakness and “gets its revenge in first” by accusing the opposition, before anyone notices it’s the Gov’s roof that’s leaking here).

    In this case, all the institutions in UK politics have been broken by Brexit
    They are poisoning public life
    They know this is becoming visible (erasmus, exporters who cant export, ministers found guilty in high court etc)

    So” project it onto the jocks, quick.”.. ..

  10. David McCann says:

    Excellent analysis Mike.
    I like this quote by American writer H. L. Mencken , which sums it up nicely.
    ‘The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.’

  11. MacNaughton says:

    Mike, why did the conduct code applied to former ministers not include the provision of a statuary mediation process like the code applied to current ministers does?

    You’re a journalist of the fifth estate. So why, according to you, did Nicola Sturgeon’s code of conduct for former ministers differ from its code for current ministers? What would account for such a bizarre difference in criteria?

    The committee is trying to work out just why Sturgeon’s govt made such a rushed and botched job of its updating of the code of conduct which has cost the tax payer hundreds of thousands of pounds. Any citizen should be interested in getting to the truth.

    It turns out the Scottish Five Estate is no longer independent either.

    We have Campbell borderline mad going on about Saigon, Murray offering rewards for a key actor’s testimony, and you, for your part, pretending that there is really nothing wrong with the unfathomable incompetence and ineptitude – at best – of the Sturgeon / Murrel regime of total mediocrity…..

    1. Ricky Shiels says:

      You seem to have missed the point. The regulations only covered current ministers. AS was no longer a minister, so that regulation was no longer fit for purpose in this case. So they re-jigged regulations to include former ministers, but of course that wasn’t fit for purpose in this case either because the alleged (now proven false in law) allegations pre-dated the concept of the regulations.
      THIS is what is meant to be the purpose of this Inquiry, a total clusterfuck of epic proportions that cost the Scottish tax-payers around £750000 all told.

      1. MacNaughton says:

        The allegations were not “proven false in law” -whatever that is -but merely not deemed constitutive of a criminal offence.

        The judicial review did not get a chance to find Salmond right or wrong as such, because the Scottish govt collapsed its case and conceded defeat before that could happen.

        The backdating of the law to include Salmond would have, as you say, seen him win the case if the Scot gov hadn’t conceded, but an additional point emerged yesterday in Salmond’s testimony which is that the Scot gov’s procedures would have been ruled unsound on additional grounds because there was no provision in the backdated code for mediation which the law would require. There is such a provision for current ministers and gov staff…

        So the mediation option was deliberately omitted by Leslie Evans, and this relates to the Salmond-Sturgeon meeting of April2nd because Salmond was expecting her to put such mediation in place, which never happened, with Sturgeon characterizing this expectation as an appeal for “collusion” …..

      2. Niemand says:

        Something puzzles me and this shows my ignorance but it is this: if I work for an employer then no longer do and someone makes a complaint about my conduct towards them while I did, if that activity is deemed potentially criminal then the employer / complainant should report it to the police who would take it up. If it isn’t deemed criminal or very unlikely to be, what happens then? What can actually be done? I am not employed any longer and so have nothing to answer for to my employer in terms of my conditions of employment. So in this case what did the SNP hope to achieve with a retrospective complaints procedure especially if it ruled out arbitration i.e. a chance to admit ‘guilt’, apologise and seek to generally bring about some kind of internal atonement? Even then, without any suggestion of criminality I could simply ignore everything as I would be under no obligation to do anything.

        What we have become used to with this kind of thing is the naming and shaming in the public domain by complainants to get some kind of ‘justice’ but that hasn’t happened here, quite the contrary. This kind of official policy of retrospectivity, done with full complainer confidentiality is becoming more common but if there was no criminal activity and it has no recourse to arbitration I am struggling to understand its legitimacy or purpose and as we have seen, is open to serious abuse by an employer wanting to ‘get’ an ex-employee for whatever reason.

  12. Archie Drummond says:

    I see Jim Sillars has crept out of hiding to proclaim his “lifelong support” of the SNP.
    Does he believe that we have all forgotten he was a member of the Labour Party. Does he believe that we have forgotten that he fell out with that party to set up his own SLP before falling out with that party and sometime later joined the SNP.

  13. Alec Lomax says:

    Jim Sillars was a life-long SNP supporter – even when he was a Labour MP ?

  14. Frank Spratt says:

    Great article Mike, however an alternative interpretation of the heading along with the picture is also spot on. Brilliant!

  15. Ann Robertson says:

    Glad to read a more balanced account and opinion

  16. SleepingDog says:

    This is what happens, a party becomes more corrupt the longer it is in power. I predicted this would happen to the SNP to my unionist acquaintances many years ago, just as I said then it would make no difference to my support for Scottish Independence. The party system is inherited from the UK one. Independence is an opportunity to try something different.

    Notably, the Chartist movement’s six aims were all eventually implemented bar one, annual elections, which was unsurprisingly ever blocked by career-elected and peer-unelected politicians:
    It is not a guarantee of breaking any cycle of corruption, and could make the revolving door between politics and the corporate world spin ever faster, but Republican Roman Consuls were only elected for a year, and the turnover would have some advantages.

    1. Pub Bore says:

      Yep, parties that are too long in power are prone to decadence, and the whole Salmond affair reeks of decadence. It will be interesting to see how the spectacle plays out in the forthcoming parliamentary elections.

      Regarding political parties more generally, I’m a big fan of sortition as opposed to election as a means of selecting who will represent us as citizens in our collective self-governance, since sortition would eliminate the influence of political parties as a possible imperfection in the democracy of our decision-making processes. Rousseau and his inheritors offer evidence that political parties and corporate interests more generally tend to operate as such a corrosive influence on democratic governance, as do Adam Smith and his.

      Under a republican regime informed by sortition, policy-decisions would be made by ad hoc juries, selected randomly from among the citizenry (literally, by universal lottery), and implemented by civil servants under the scrutiny of the law. Advocates for and against any specific policy proposal would have the opportunity to try their respective arguments before such a jury, under the procedural management of a judge, and that jury would decide the matter by trying the relative strengths and weaknesses of the arguments presented and legislating accordingly. Every citizen would, as part of their civic duty, be liable to serve as a legislator, and each would serve in this function as a representative of the citizenry generally not for five years, not for one year, but only for the duration of the matter on which they’ve been randomly selected to legislate.


      1. SleepingDog says:

        @Pub Bore, yes, elected representatives are often a poor and disconnected way of conducting democracy, and for some purposes your random-jury policy-factories seem much better, and I assume their white box (completely transparent to public scrutiny) deliberations would be policy-focused as opposed to the often personality-focused/career-curating/performative-art white box (parliamentary) section of our current system.

        1. Pub Bore says:

          No, jury deliberations – like ballots – have to remain secret in order to protect those deliberations from ‘undue influence’. Imagine the coercions that could be exerted by private interests on jurors when, after having heard all the arguments, they retire to consider their verdict if their deliberations were not secret! The absence of confidentiality would definitely not be in the public interest, the supremacy of which is precisely what sortition is intended to secure against the private interests of individuals and corporations, including political parties.

          The arguments, themselves, of course, would still have to be presented in public hearings for transparency’s sake.

  17. L. Reid says:

    Their are provocations on both sides. I just wish in a utopian world there were no losers in this, but of course there are. The fact the Alex Salmond cannot give full evidence has on the one hand hampered his case but on the other, he has used it to his advantage I.e. there but for what I might have said etc etc
    They both have sincerity and integrity in spades. It will be to Nicola Sturgeon’s cause to speak after him. It will be for her to prove she did not meet with anyone before she met with Salmond etc etc.
    And then the whole convoluted process will come to an end with Salmond not quite proving anything and Sturgeon not quite disproving anything and – – who do you ultimately believe? Someone who has had sexual allegations made against him- thrown out of court – or the first minister.? It’s sounding good for Nicola on that basis but should it? The committee is out.

  18. MacNaughton says:

    I recall that in “The Trial” Kafka distinguishes between various forms of acquittal which Joseph K might hope to receive….

    Definite acquittal is no longer possible – there hasn’t been a case in living memory – and all that is available to defendants is “ostensible acquittal”, which is acquittal but with the possibility that you might be brought back to court and tried again some time in the future….this is the most Kafka’s Joseph K can hope for….

    This, effectively, is what Salmond has received: Kafka’s ostensible acquittal..

    There is nothing progressive or right-on about supporting a campaign by members high up in govt or office against any individual, Salmond or otherwise…

    What has already been accepted as hard evidence by the enquiry is more than enough for me to see that there has been a serious abuse of power by Evans and Murrell, two people who nobody ever voted for…

    Those two must go as soon as possible….

    1. Niemand says:

      Anyone who watched that yesterday and heard NS the other day alluding to AS having ‘things to answer for’ even if they were ‘not criminal’ must agree with this. It was truly desperate stuff.

      I have no special adherence to Salmond but his testimony at the committee yesterday was really convincing because he was it was clear he was telling the truth (as he sees it anyway) and it is much easier to sit there for 6 hours and do that when you are not trying to cover stuff up or lying outright. He also gave a masterclass in how to present evidence logically and clearly and answer tough questions directly, straightforwardly and patiently, especially when dealing with an endless stream of irrelevant ones that even the SNP chair had to stop numerous times.

      You either believe in the truth and integrity above all else or you don’t. Plenty still prefer to stick by NS and the SNP regardless. Ignoring the truth, ostrich-like whilst flailing around attacking opposition parties who dare to actually provide proper and legitimate opposition, is the mission creep.

  19. Eddie Hagerty says:

    Great commentary . Giving a focussed perspective on the realities of this enquiry for the vast majority of voters.
    No matter what is revealed the unionist parties are still getting a doing on May .

  20. Chick Hosie says:

    Stupid fool can’t handle his drink with dignity and continues to cause media mayhem , post May election we will continue to be in no mans land and in a state of constitutional purgatory

  21. Lesley says:

    100% accurate with your assessment

  22. Sean Howie says:

    Brilliant article. You are a credit to the Yes movement Mike. Do you think that the Yes movement needs to utilise a show of force before the election and that Sturgeon is holding back?

  23. P creaney says:

    I am disgusted at the way Salmond has acted. I think he is jealous of Nicola s success. He may have been awaited but by his own admittance he acted inappropriately when he was in office. If he really loved Scotland and wanted dependence he would never have gone ahead with all this. He knew it would damage the party and my lose us independence. All this for revenge. It is unbelievable how the media is slobbering over all this. BBC have it on the main news but all the giving out of contracts without tendering and all the Brexit chaos its cause gets swept under the carpet. Where are the calls for Johnston to resign for all the lies he has told. Salmon is doing Johnston’s job for him. I am beyond disgusted.

  24. Martin Davis says:

    The SNP’s raison d’être is independence. But in moving toward that goal it has inadvertently become ‘the’ party of devolved government. That evidently has its own snares, in terms of institutionalisation and vested interest. Independence would surely prompt the party’s demise, in that it is necessarily, being ‘national’, a coalition of antagonistic social and political forces. Is that prospect acting as an inhibition to action? And has the current rather personalised imbroglio got anything to do with acute differences over the political strategy to be adopted, or not, in attaining precisely that ultima ratio of the party.

    1. Iain MacLean says:

      The SNP is the vehicle to take Scotland to independence, post independence it may form a government of national unity to manage the transition and rejoining of the EU.

      After that political parties of the left, centre and centre right would form, just like any other normal independent country.

  25. James Dick says:

    Why did Liam Fox not ask “What mechanisms exist to handle complaints against former Ministers at Westminster for abuse of Power?”

  26. That Guy Brian says:

    I don’t usually throw out superlatives as easy, but what a brilliant article. Cuts right through all the noise and chuntering mud peddled by anonymous Tweeters and self congratulatory Bloggers, lol. If Social Media was a big mirror the whole of Scotland couldn’t drag them away from it.

    But aye, brilliant article mate. I haven’t followed a blog or felt compelled to follow one for donkeys years now, but would seriously consider following up more articles like this.

    One of the last blogs I followed was probably one of those mentioned in this piece. Long before they gave up all pretence and allowed their own intolerance to reign unchecked.

    1. Jada Colquhoun says:

      Agreed. Who is the author? Has he worked in journalism before?

      1. That Guy Brian says:

        I don’t know mate. Should be a link to the author’s details and perhaps some of his other articles.

  27. andrew sanders says:

    I remember going to a meeting when Jim Sillars had just formed, what was it, “The Scottish Labour Party” .? At least he tried, but failed, so he moved on to his next party. He has, perhaps, now reached a dead end, so he should just retire from the scene. However, egos being what they are and being conspicuous in the person of the ex FM , I’m afraid he’s not about to do the right thing -that would be too honourable.

  28. Tom Ultuous says:

    While the botched inquiry only cost us around 15p per head there should be an inquiry into the fees these legal parasites charge. They seem to be able to make them up as they go along. We’ve also just had 2 of the administrators from the Rangers to Sevco affair awarded £10.5 million each (£4 a head) with more to be paid out to other parasites involved. You wonder what kind of pushbacks are involved here. Murray Holdings were borrowing money then using it to shore up Rangers (who were already ripping us off through the EBT dodge) until they both went into administration. Despite the long list of creditors in both cases Murray is back in his high castle, sevco are riding high having bought over £100 million of assets for just £4 million meanwhile we’re chipping in to “compensate” ponces who’ve already made a fortune winding up Rangers but feel they’ve been tainted by aspersions cast on their “good name”. Like the tory government they don’t even feel the need to be discrete about their corruption any more. If there was a will we could probably get shot of the lot of them for 10p each.

    1. MacNaughton says:

      Apparently, according to the rumour mill, the Rangers prosecution fiasco was the brainchild of Rangers supporting fanatics in the Crown Office who went after those two guys who they perceived to have run Rangers into the ground and destroyed the club when, as we all know, it was really David Murray who did that by paying 30 million for Torre Andre Flo who was a striker more or less of the same quality as big Tony Higgins back in his day….

      1. Tom Ultuous says:

        The Rangers fans in the crown office / police going after them makes sense but when you come across any posts by sevco fans they seem to believe the prosecution’s the work of left footers and it’s all blown up in their face.

        I have a sneaking suspicion the man in the high castle is now a silent shareholder. You’d think he’d put in a word for poor Bankrupt Barry.

      2. Yes Thistle no cash to the 26 club cabal says:

        Tony Higgins was magic, played some great stuff for the Thistle so less of the abuse and comparing him with imposters

        1. MacNaughton says:

          Big Tony was and still is a legend for Thistle but also for the Hibs… one of the good guys in Scottish fitba….

  29. Isabel Cooney says:

    I don’t take that view of Alex Salmond.

    Nevertheless I will be giving both my votes to SNP.

    Scotland needs a sharp exit from little England politics.

  30. James Craigson says:

    Assisting the police with their enquiries sounds so innocent and wholesome, but they were not asked to assist the police and were conducting a biased investigation to find dirt. The police in general investigate in an unbiased way to find the truth. The behavior of the members of the wassap group was and is indefensible. That is the scandal here.

  31. florian albert says:

    Now that Alex Salmond have given evidence and the dust has – temporarily – settled, some conclusions can be tentatively drawn.

    1 Salmond showed what a formidable political figure he remains. I never liked him but his evidence was a tour de force.

    2 He has reminded everyone that the focus of the committee of enquiry has to be on the failures of the Scottish Government.

    3 There was no ‘smoking gun’ but his evidence suggested that he knows there is enough documentary proof to destroy several of Nicola’s closest allies. (Not to

    destroy Nicola directly, which is why he is attacking her on procedural grounds of breaking the ministerial code. However, if her allies fall, Nicola will struggle to


    4 Most of the MSP’s were an embarrassment. This was their chance to show that Holyrood mattered. They did the opposite. As an advert for Scottish self-

    government, it was a disaster.

    5 If the evidence, which Salmond wants published, continues to be withheld, it could backfire on the SNP. There are clearly a number of people who will have had

    access to this evidence and it could easily be leaked during the election campaign.

    1. James Mills says:

      Your point 4 is relevant .
      Most if not all of the puerile questions from the likes of Baillie , Cole-Hamilton and Murdo Fraser simply showed their unfitness for emptying bins never mind representing the public .
      They had no intention of sticking to the brief of the Committee ( if they even knew what it entailed ) – theirs was all about party political advantage and enjoying their 15 minutes of fame in the spotlight .
      A stain on the nation .
      Thankfully , despite all the heat generated by blogs/ political wonks like this , few of the general public would be a*sed to watch the TV coverage – not if there was a newly painted wall nearby to study !

    2. L. Reid says:

      I agree with you that while not necessary likeable, Salmond’s ability to get to the core of the matter both in legal and other terms is formidable and was indeed a tour de force, nevertheless I believe that Nicola Sturgeon will be equally impressive next week. The hounding media may have a hard time of it with their spin.
      As to leaks, made in one of your other points, if there is anything else to leak that hasn’t been done so then I agree it will inevitably happen, but if it was anything that had been brought up in court then jail sentences seem to be the modus operandi.

  32. Martin Weir says:

    This is not mission creep or the last fling by desparate unionists. These are the opening shots of a massive campaign, Westminster will go direct to local councils with buckets of cash directed at unionist leaning councils while hamstringing the SG. We keep our eye on the ball… winning an independence referendum on the next 12 months

  33. George Robertson says:

    After all this time for this problem to be heard, why now at this critical time when all votes are required for us to get our independence. It makes one wonder if tory dark money is behind the timing. I was a fan of Salmond but this has put me right off him. It seems like he is determined to destroy the goal of independence by the people of Scotland, a cause which he championed for many years but now he appears to champion the tory cause of division and collapse of the independence movement. His infamy will be remembered in Scotland for many many years.

  34. Gordon Thompson says:

    What happened to you Mike? Where did this bitter, tabloid attitude come from? Most of your work is considered, detailed, compassionate and impartial. But you seem incapable or unwilling to address any of these issues without conflating them in a frothing tribal tirade.

  35. Rebecca Davies says:

    Cannot believe this has happened … I will vote SNP because I passionately want autonomy for Scotland regardless of the party who is in power! The SNP support independence I will vote for them. I cannot believe Alec Salmond could do such a thing to an old friend and colleague! At the most critical time in our history too – why did he do this now? Couldn’t it have waited until after the election. I believe he has been cruel self seeking and his ego is running amok!

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