Alex Salmond inquiry: Why Nicola Sturgeon cannot resign as attacks backfire on opposition – Helen Martin

For a total of 14 hours, many people in Scotland followed two sessions of the Holyrood Committee’s handling of harassment complaints.

Monday, 8th March 2021, 7:00 am
Updated Monday, 8th March 2021, 7:41 am

Alex Salmond’s lasted for an impressive six hours. Nicola Sturgeon’s dragged on for an astonishing eight hours with a few 20-minute intervals, presumably for a pee and/or a cup of tea.

Salmond seemed to be taking a superior attitude explaining his reasons for blaming the Crown Office, civil servants, justice systems and every aspect of the Scottish government, all of which he was expected to condemn.

And he even suggested that Sturgeon should have intervened in the process to save him... or something like that. Just about everyone should have been sacked. He believed others should decide about Sturgeon.

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I found all that difficult to follow. And I’m confident that I’m not alone on that.

Most of the public don’t understand political, legal and authority details, roles and procedures. But what was obvious was the majority of the committee was trying to focus as much as possible on the First Minister.

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It wasn’t a genuine, objective, investigation of complaints, and how could it have been with Murdo Fraser, Jackie Baillie and other anti-SNP committee members? It was, as usual, a political war, a chance to block independence.

Nicola Sturgeon takes the oath before giving evidence to the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/PA)

When Sturgeon’s session began on Wednesday, she began with a clear statement, explaining her previous long and deep friendship with Salmond, and appreciating that she was given the opportunity to say her piece.

About seven hours later, she more or less admitted she was exhausted. But it got worse. Margaret Mitchell (Tory) and Baillie (Labour) kept asking the same questions over and over, to which Sturgeon had already replied.

Convener Linda Fabiani was in a difficult position. She’s SNP, but she was trying to be objective. What she couldn’t tolerate was these two wasting time, and finally Mitchell trying to make her own, insane and furious anti-Sturgeon speech, ranting over the eight-hour limit, until she was rather politely told to shut up.

It was interesting that, compared to these women, even Fraser and Alex Cole-Hamilton were a tiny bit more respectful!

There may be several aspects of Scottish government and legal systems and rules that have to be improved, but Sturgeon isn’t in charge of all of the issues which were raised by the committee. From some she is totally excluded.

It was 2007 when the SNP government was established, and as time goes on and new, different events (eg Salmond’s case) arise, changes in independent authorities will happen. That doesn’t fall on Sturgeon’s shoulders either.

Many people who don’t support the SNP do respect Sturgeon’s handling of the pandemic despite her having to comply a lot with the UK.

But the most astonishing result of that eight-hour committee questioning was how the public were so impressed. Thousands joined the SNP. Some who had previously opted out re-joined. Some claimed they had been Labour in the past and now had switched.

SNP supporters had reduced in the last six months but this harassment committee “show” starring Surgeon has boosted up membership and vows to vote.

She can’t resign. That’s the result of excessive aggression and attacks from other political parties.

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