Sunday Finest: The Latest on the SNP's Crisis
A leaked video of Sturgeon, Peter Murrell's villa, SNP struggles to pay bills.
Today’s papers are full of fresh allegations and extraordinary details around the SNP’s ongoing crisis.
The must-buy paper this morning is the Sunday Mail. It’s fair to say that the paper that the SNP lied to about membership numbers has the bit between its teeth. They have a packed edition today with stories on:
A leaked video of the former First Minister angrily telling SNP activists that the SNP’s finances have “never been stronger”.
Nicola Sturgeon being investigated by police for her role in shutting down scrutiny of the SNP’s finances.
A very posh looking Portuguese villa owned by Peter Murrell.
And suggestions that the police are also investigating purchases of jewellery.
In another triumph of media engagement by Yousaf, every paper carries his "We're not close to bankruptcy” line from after yesterday’s SNP NEC. The First Minister also said that “forensic accountants” may be needed to go through the party’s books, presumably without thinking through what the word forensic implies here.
The Sunday Times has reports of that executive meeting where their Treasurer, SNP MSP Colin Beattie reported they were “having difficulty in balancing the books due to the reduction in membership and donors.” Humza Yousaf also told the meeting the party would need significant new fundraising if it was to be able to defend the upcoming byelection in Rutherglen.
The Herald reports that outside auditors may be forced on the SNP by the Electoral Commission. They also have SNP MP Joanna Cherry questioning the failure to suspend Peter Murrell from party membership.
Things have been moving so fast, it’s easy to forget just how damaging the last few weeks have been. When you look at the first 20 days of Humza Yousaf’s leadership laid out, day-by-day, it really is catastrophic.
Day 1: Yousaf narrowly avoids defeat to the deeply conservative Forbes.
Day 2: Forbes “told him where to stick it” when Yousaf offered her agriculture.
Day 3: Forbes campaign manager McKee rejects a job in Yousaf’s government.
Day 4 The Standards Committee recommends suspending Margaret Ferrier for 20 days which would trigger a by-election for the SNP to defend.
Day 5 The first poll of Yousaf’s leadership suggests he’ll lose 18 seats to Labour.
Day 6 A Panelbase poll shows Yousaf would lose his seat to Labour.
Day 7 Forbes contradicts SNP claims she wanted more family time and says she wanted to stay as Finance Secretary.
Day 8 The IFS reports that earlier predictions that Scotland’s deficit would close compared to the UK were wrong.
Day 9 A Redfield and Winton poll has Yousaf with -7 approval rating among Scots. By comparison, Labour Leader Starmer was +8.
Day 10 Police raid Nicola Sturgeon’s house, SNP HQ, and arrest Peter Murrell. Yousaf says “it’s not great” for the SNP.
Day 11 Having stood as “the continuity candidate” Yousaf gives interviews distancing himself from Nicola Sturgeon’s time in office.
Day 12 Yousaf denies the SNP are “in cahoots” with the police. It is reported that the SNP’s auditors have resigned.
Day 13 SNP President Mike Russell says “I don’t think independence can be secured right now.” Salmond says Yousaf needs to find humility. A £100,000 campervan was seized by police from Sturgeon’s mother-in-law’s driveway.
Day 14 The Sunday Mail are passed a recording of Nicola Sturgeon at an NEC meeting in 2021 saying: “We don’t need to talk about the finances, the finances are absolutely fine.”
Day 15 Yousaf gives an interview and says people can trust money given to the SNP will be spent properly - but won’t say if that has always been the case.
Day 16 Yousaf gives further interviews and admits that the SNP’s auditors actually quit months ago and that the party has been unable to find new ones.
Day 17 The SNP informs the Electoral Commission they may not be able to submit accounts. Yousaf’s Deputy cannot say if the SNP owns a campervan.
Day 18 Yousaf gives interviews and confirms the SNP does own a campervan.
Day 19 Senior party figures, including members of the SNP’s executive, said they had no idea there was a campervan. One asked “what was it doing for so long outside Peter’s mum’s and not in a paint shop having livery put on the sides?”
Day 20 The SNP’s Treasurer tells the Executive of the party they are “having difficulty in balancing the books due to the reduction in membership and donors.” Yousaf gives interviews to reassure that “we’re not close to bankruptcy.”
This matters beyond the game playing of politics. While the First Minister spends his days in meetings to try to find out whether his party owns a campervan or on the phone looking for someone to audit his party’s accounts, Scotland’s public services are in crisis.
We have a leader who can’t fix the financial legacy Nicola Sturgeon left his party, let alone the mess she left the country in.