Only removing the SNP will end the culture of cover-up...plus I need a favour.
Before I get to the meat of this edition, I have a favour to ask.
Last night I was selected to stand against the SNP in my home constituency of East Renfrewshire at the General Election. It is one of the seats that will bring change to Scotland. The SNP can be beaten, but it won’t be easy and it won’t be cheap.
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Normally when a political party sees a damaging narrative building around them they take action to confound it.
For example, Tony Blair, after having won two landslides was facing a narrative that he was a little too dominant. Voters saw him besting a series of weak opposition leaders and worried that maybe his position was a little too strong.
Labour strategists back then picked up on this and his ‘masochism stategy’ was born. He pulled his punches at PMQs, he introduced Prime Ministerial press conferences, he created the liaison committee that still grills premiers today, and he put himself in places where the public could express anger towards him.
The thinking was that it was better that voters had their desire to see him challenged satisfied before they stepped into a polling booth. The strategy was uncomfortable but it successfully countered the negative story that was building. And most importantly, Blair was confident that he could survive such a strategy because he had a record of delivery to stand on.
The SNP have faced a building sense of being a government which covers up misdeads and the misuse of power.
In the last few weeks we have seen Michael Matheson lie to journalists without consequence, Nicola Sturgeon refusing to answer questions about whether she broke her promise to retain her covid WhatsApp messages, and Ministers seeking to cover up wildly exaggerated claims around Scotland’s energy potential. That builds on countless stories about the SNP’s secretive finances, official meetings with no minutes, an attempt to suspend Freedom of Information altogether during Covid and the entire governing party turning a blind eye to Alex Salmond’s admitted bad behaviour in office.
So you would think that the SNP would be going out of their way to confound such stories, right?
Today the SNP announced they have rejected calls for a strengthening of Scotland’s Freedom of Information legislation.
George Adam, a man so committed to honesty in public life that he went door to door delivering the Wee Blue Book (while wearing a Wings Over Scotland badge), opposed calls for new legislation from transparency campaigners. The measures rejected include, and you couldn’t make this up, calls to legislate to stop WhatsApp messages being deleted.
This is, remember, a party that attempted to suspend freedom of information altogether during covid. Last year the Freedom of Information Commissioner took them to task for “significant and sistemic” failures. Journalists submit requests for information more in hope than expectation, knowing the response will be pages of blacked-out nothingness.
Why would a party already mired in accusations of cover-up and corruption choose to confirm people’s concerns in this way?
They know that transparency is their enemy. This is a potemkin government with so few real achievements beyond their carefully managed communications strategy. They can’t show greater openness because they are terrified of the thought that the people will peak behind the facade and realise that there is nothing there.
A government with nothing to hide doesn’t seek to conceal. The SNP are now trapped in a cycle of mistrust with the media that won’t end well.
Such is their arrogant mindset, which assumes people don’t need to know what they do in office, that only removing them from power will change the culture.