Last year the mainstream media, led by BBC ‘Scotland’ decided that there was a Civil War within the SNP. They tried desperately to construct this story, looking under every rock to find something, anything to prove their theory. Unfortunately for them they faced ridicule across social media as SNP members and supporters started to take the piss out of the Civil War claims. We heard rumours of SNP branches holding out against their foes, stacked up with original recipe Irn Bru and awaiting fresh supplies of tablet to keep their troops fighting fit! The SNP Civil War posts got longer and more hilarious as the MSM journalists struggled to make anyone believe their fantasy claims. Eventually they dropped the ‘civil war’ comments.
However, on Sunday 13th January Sarah Smith (the BBC’s Scotland Editor and daughter of former Labour leader John Smith) tried to start the SNP Civil War story all over again. Using no more proof than the last time the BBC launched into another SNP bad story as the last vestiges of credibility and journalistic integrity at the BBC quietly sank into the Clyde outside the BBC offices at Pacific Quay.
Both Civil War claims arose by the decision of senior civil servants within the Scottish Government to investigate alleged sexual harassment claims against former First Minister Alex Salmond; claims that he strenuously denies. The case brought forward by the civil servants spectacularly failed at Scotland’s Court of Session on Tuesday 8th January when it was revealed that the civil service had breached its own guidelines by appointing an investigating officer who had prior involvement in the case (some reports imply she encouraged the complainants to submit a complaint). The comments from the Judge in this case were particularly scathing, stating that the civil servant’s actions had been ‘unlawful in respect that they were procedurally unfair’ and had been ‘tainted with apparent bias’.
There is still an outstanding police investigation on the claims but the role of the senior civil servants involved in this case, particularly the Permanent Secretary, Leslie Evans, certainly raise concerns over her abilities. The legal costs alone have been estimated to be anything between £350,000 to £500,00 – add in staff time etc and the final bill will certainly exceed £1 million. That is £1 million that will be denied to the NHS, local councils and other public services which are all desperate for investment. Who else gets to waste £1 million and retain their job? There is also the question of who leaked the original story to the Daily Record -as expected the civil service investigated this and cleared themselves of any blame! Salmond has quite rightly asked the Information Commissioner’s Office to investigate this – so there may be more bad news coming to the civil service in Scotland.
This whole sorry saga seems to be an indication of civil servants acting with impunity and a thorough independent investigation into the whole case needs to be carried out to find out if there was any truth to the allegations and whether senior civil servants have abused their powers to target a former First Minister, using the press to spread malicious stories and undermine his credibility. It goes without saying that the civil service shouldn’t be involved in such an investigation.
There have been some interesting articles on this issue with the most surprising support for Alex Salmond coming from Labour activist Ian Smart.
Iain McWhirter produced an excellent article on the issue:
Former UK Diplomat Craig Murray also had some interesting points to make:
The CaltonJock blog also raises some points:
And this other blog took the opportunity to raise some background information on Leslie Evans:
And Finally, one benefit of the SNP Civil War is the enterprising move by the people behind the Scots Independent newspaper who have been selling ‘I survived the SNP Civil War’ mugs. These are an essential memento of the SNP civil war and can be ordered online at: http://scotsindependent.scot/FWShop/product/i-survived-the-snp-civil-war-mug/