Anything For The Cause
Again and again, the SNP have shown they will cover up rather than confront alleged abuses of power within their own ranks.
Much of this week has been dominated by stories about Patrick Grady, the SNP MP suspended from parliament after sexually harassing a teenage staff member. What was already a pretty seedy story of a party protecting the perpetrator rather than the victim became even grubbier with the release of a recording of an SNP group meeting.
In the recording, SNP Westminster Leader Ian Blackford was clear about who needed the party’s solidarity. It wasn’t Grady’s young victim:
“I think most of you know how I feel about Patrick and I would encourage the group to deliver as much support as possible. Let’s look forward to next week, he is going to face challenges, and needs our absolute full support.”
Inevitably, there were calls for Blackford’s resignation. The Deputy Leader of the SNP told us he knew nothing about it. Nicola Sturgeon fled to Italy. Today Blackford finally made a statement in an attempt to protect the person he sees as the real victim in all of this: himself. As Gina Davidson from LBC points out, his statement is an attempt to move from the specific to the general, and doesn’t answer the outstanding questions for the party’s Commons leader:
“Why did Blackford have the complainer come to his office alone to be confronted by a crying Grady?
What process did he think he was following in doing so and what advice did he seek?
Why was Grady promoted while this was all unresolved?
What did Blackford do to support the young complainer?
Why did work stop being sent to the complainer?
Why was the complainer not mentioned as needing support at the group meeting?
How will he ensure the young man is supported should he return to work at Westminster?”
None of us should be surprised that this man would lack any sort of compassion towards the victim and instead rally his troops around the harrasser, but we should still be disgusted.
Since this edition was published, Blackford has given an interview to STV. It ain’t pretty.
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A Pattern of Behaviour
One interesting intervention in this story came from the SNP’s hapless census Minister:
Robertson’s words come as a reminder that we have been here before with the SNP.
This is the same Angus Robertson who representatives of Edinburgh Airport approached to raise concerns about perceived “inappropriateness” by Alex Salmond towards their female staff. Note this communication about concerns about the behaviour of the head of the Scottish Government was reported to the SNP’s political structure, rather than to the SNP Government. One of the consequences of that is that there would be no government paper trail. That is one of the reasons why, despite the allegations being an open secret around Holyrood for years, and journalists trying to stand up the story, it was a decade before Robertson was forced into admitting his role in this.
What action did Angus Robertson, who now talks about the importance of independent processes, take when made aware of these concerns? He raised it with Salmond, who denied he had acted inappropriately, which was enough to satisfy Robertson who says he then viewed the matter as closed. That Robertson thinks taking the man’s word in a situation like this constitutes a proper process, says a lot about his judgement.
Don’t Ask Questions
Meanwhile, the SNP Government have said today that it is not in the public interest to disclose the outcome of any probe into alleged misconduct by Ministers.
Back in 2020 it was reported that SNP Minister Fergus Ewing was subject to an official bullying complaint by three civil servants. You might think it was a matter of public interest whether a Cabinet Secretary had been bullying his staff - Fergus Ewing denies it - but the SNP Government says you don’t have a right to know about investigations into the conduct of those who govern you. If the probe found he had been bullying his staff, it would clearly be embarrassing to Ewing, but it would call into question the judgement, and ethics, of the First Minister who promoted Ewing despite being aware of these allegations.
Ewing might feel like he is right of central casting for this sort of story, but this is not only an issue about him. The trade union representing the civil servants who work with Ministers made this observation:
“It is quite extraordinary that there are more complaints about the Scottish government than all than all other UK government departments put together."
Your government doesn’t think you have a right to know anything about any of these.
Since this issue was published, Nicola Sturgeon was pressed at First Minister’s Questions on the issue of whether Ewing was found to have bullied his staff in the investigation. She says that we have a right to know about alleged bad behaviour from Ministers in the future, but we have no right to know the outcome of previous complaints processes.
Why Does This Keep Happening?
We know why the SNP’s instinct is to cover up, rather than confront alleged bad behaviour. In the recording of the SNP Group meeting, to applause, Amy Callaghan gave the game away:
“I think we should be rallying together for this campaign but also regardless of our position on Patrick’s situation, we should be rallying together around him to support him at this time as well”
It’s all about the campaign.
As a senior SNP source told David Clegg and Kieran Andrews in their book about the Salmond affair:
“the bullying and the horrible human being that he was – why did we tolerate it? Because of the prize”
It’s all about the cause.
The question raised from the SNP’s handling of allegations, whether Grady, Salmond or Ewing is what else is going on that they aren’t telling us about? What else are they willing to hide for the sake of their political objectives?
First and foremost this is about how abuses of power are policed, but it speaks to a deeper problem too. A party that is willing to tolerate such bad behaviour within its own family, cannot be trusted to look after the best interests of yours.
So no better than the Westminster Party they despise. Just imagine this being a Labour or Lib Dem MP. If the " Prize" is won like this, then the SNP are not fit to govern Scotland.
There should be a judge led independent enquiry into the complete lack of transparency of this so called government and into all their lies