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The Sunday newspapers are full of developments in the SNP's crisis. Including one you would never have seen coming.
Once again, I should stress that nobody has been charged with any crime in the investigation into the SNP. As ever, I’ll comment on the politics of the SNP’s crisis rather than the legal process. And the politics of today’s stories could hardly be more damaging for the SNP.
It’s a Sense of Freedom You Don’t Get With Other Holidays
The wildest story in the papers is in today’s Mail on Sunday and concerns a police raid that took place away from the cameras earlier this week.
They report that police have seized Nicola Sturgeon’s mother-in-law’s £100,000 campervan. I know that reads like a sentence written by an AI chatbot but here are the details according to the paper.
If last week’s forensic tent outside of a suburban home brought back memories of Brookside, the motorhome evokes thoughts of Breaking Bad.
This is Fine…
Yesterday an SNP source told the Times that Kirsten Oswald MP had helped Murrell block improvements to financial transparency within the party. This morning, a letter from Joanna Cherry to Oswald, complaining about a “secretive and evasive” approach to party finances was leaked to the Sunday Times. Her letter to Oswald reads:
“Over the years I have sat on a number of management boards and I have never seen business conducted in such an inadequate way as it is on the SNP NEC. Nor have I experienced the menacing atmosphere in which the business is conducted.”
The Sunday Mail has a recording of a 2021 NEC meeting where Nicola Sturgeon personally tried to shut down discussion of the party’s finances. In the recording Sturgeon is heard saying:
“We don’t need to talk about the finances, the finances are absolutely fine.”
The fact that figures at the highest levels of the SNP were already secretly recording their governance meetings two years ago doesn’t paint a picture of a happy and united party.
In the same paper, Angus MacNeill has called for the leadership election to be re-run, suggesting the party has buyer’s remorse after the events of the last few days:
“There are clearly questions to answer here. If it is the case that Peter’s arrest has been delayed to allow the first minister to resign and the vote to take place, then that could have had a material impact on the election result. It seems unlikely that the continuity candidate would have cut it if all of this had been know beforehand.”
Regardless of the outcome of the investigation, the briefing and counter briefing from SNP figures will leave deep scarring in the party.
They Cannot Offer Change
Today it is reported that Humza Yousaf will be going to the King’s coronation rather than the independence rally he promised he would attend. Meanwhile, Jim Sillars is the latest SNP figure to admit that independence isn’t going to be on offer in the foreseeable future:
"I am sorry to say this to the people in the movement but what we require now is patience during which we do the work. This is not going to be a short term measure. We have a great deal of repair work to be done.”
Put together everything leading SNP figures have said since Nicola Sturgeon resigned. The most strategically significant thing about this crisis is that they are saying to voters that the route to change that the SNP offer is not available.
SNP First Minister Humza Yousaf:
“It has to be a sustained majority [for independence] and we don’t have that.”
SNP Deputy Leader Shona Robison:
“It will take as long as it takes to persuade those who are not yet persuaded.”
SNP President and Chief Executive Mike Russell:
“I don’t think independence can be secured right now”
The general election is a change election but the SNP’s own leaders say they are incapable of offering change.
Voters will conclude that if they want to change things now, they have to vote for something and someone else.