by Colin Campbell
A VENEER of unity has covered over the cracks in the SNP during the past two months, but now it’s fading fast. Joanna Cherry has elbowed herself into pole position to replace Nicola Sturgeon, as the increasingly jaded party leader faces renewed internal criticism over her failure to deliver “indyref2”.
Cherry made her biggest impact with her response to a query from a member of the audience on the BBC’s Question Time on what currency an independent Scotland would use. “Umm…err…ummm…” she declared. (Youtube, Joanna Cherry freezes on Question Time).
Ultra-aggressive silver-tongued warthog Ian Blackford has also come in for criticism from some SNP supporters after he last week enthusiastically endorsed a sign at the border which had been doctored to tell English people to “f*** off”.
Presumably at least some of the SNP Westminster leader’s critics are either linked to or are dependent on the hospitality industry, which will be wholly dependent on an influx of English tourists to try and save hotels, guest houses, restaurants and bars from complete and total collapse. Does Blackford want to completely wreck the industry?
Meanwhile, an obsession among some activists over “transgender rights” – such a topical talking point in every household these days – has caused further deep rifts among elements of the membership.
Now the feuding within the ferrets-in-a-sack party has spilled over to the Highlands.
The politically-neutral Inverness Courier reports on its busy and comprehensive website:
A formal inquiry into the suspension of a second councillor from Highland Council’s SNP group has been promised – but not until after the coronavirus pandemic.
It has emerged Councillor Kirsteen Currie (North, West and Central Sutherland) was stood down by party leaders about two weeks ago after allegedly addressing senior councillors inappropriately. An anonymous witness claimed that she swore at a party leader.
It comes after Inverness Ness-side councillor Ron MacWilliam was suspended last month after becoming angered about the Covid-19 response. He is alleged to have sent strongly worded emails criticising the council’s lack of leadership and also to have addressed senior councillors inappropriately.
Meanwhile, Councillor Niall McLean (Fort William and Ardnamurchan) is seeking legal advice on his position in the SNP group – but he has not been suspended.
SNP group co-leader councillor Ian Cockburn said: “Councillor Currie was suspended from the SNP Highland group approximately two week ago. There will be a formal inquiry after the Covid-19 outbreak has been brought under control – because you can’t hold an inquiry now.”
Cllr Currie said: “In my lifetime’s membership of the SNP I have never experienced such punitive action taking place for an allegation such as the ‘anonymous source’ has described. The rules and standing orders of my party are there to ensure fairness and I look forward to such times when due process can be followed without a needless sideshow being created through the media.
“It is disappointing, especially at such a time of crisis, that the leadership of the Highland SNP group have focused so much energy in to attempting to harm the good reputation of their own colleagues. There is no doubt that the party’s rules have not been followed by group leaders but once due process kicks in I am confident this mess will be cleared up and those responsible held to account.”
Inverness Ness-side Cllr MacWilliam, who was suspended in April, said he did not want to revisit the allegations made against him publicly but sought to defend Cllr Currie.
Kirsteen Currie and Niall MacLean we know very little about, but we have a lot of time for Ron MacWilliam. He was the leading council opponent of the Coronavirus Gathering Place and his sterling efforts to delay or block the riverside-ruining abomination at every turn now look like paying off.
He is a straight-shooter who speaks his minds and his criticism of the SNP Government’s response to the epidemic has now in many aspects been vindicated.
But such virtues are not appreciated within the SNP where members are required to march in lockstep and the ultimate heresy is to break ranks and criticise The Party and by implication The Great Leader. But it’s happening more and more often.
Nevertheless errant behaviour, as Currie says, is still met with “punitive action” at all levels.
Feelings always run high among the more fanatical members of the SNP cult. Now it seems some of them just can’t keep their claws off one another.