Alex Salmond case: Former SNP deputy says ‘one person party’ to blame for ‘tragedy’

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The SNP is paying the price for becoming a “one person party” with too much control in the hands of the leader and their “acolytes,” according to former deputy party chief Jim Sillars.

He has called the meltdown in relations between Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon a “tragedy” as he called for a review of party structures which would allow senior figures around the leader to have more influence.

Jim Sillars. Picture: Neil Hanna

Jim Sillars. Picture: Neil Hanna

It comes after former Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill last week hit out at a hardline inner circle of individuals around Ms Sturgeon ready to “drive out” anyone who threatens the leader’s reputation.

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“I think we are now suffering from the fact that both in Alex’s time and in Nicola’s time it was a one-person party as far as decision-making went,” Mr Sillars told the National newspaper.

“There is no corpus of senior party members who can call people together. We are now, as a party, going to pay the price for that.

“I have argued that this restrictive group in control of the party, almost one person in control with acolytes, has been extremely damaging and a price would one day be paid for it. Unfortunately, a price is now going to be paid.”

Salmond claimed certain individuals are out to remove him as a “political threat” in the aftermath of his Court victory over the Scottish Government this week. Ms Sturgeon told MSPs in Holyrood on Tuesday that she has not spoken with her predecessor and former mentor in over six months as relations between the pair sink to a new low.

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Mr Sillars, the former Govan MP and widower of the late Nationalist stalwart Margo McDonald, says it would be in the party’s long-term interests to have a more collegiate approach at the top with a range of senior figures having greater influence.

“This is a tragedy for both, to have the former First Minister and the current First Minister fighting a legal war and appearing to be in a proxy war,” he added.

“It is extremely damaging to them personally and damaging to the Scottish National Party.

“However, it does not follow that it is damaging to the independence movement or to the case for independence. The SNP are just one part of the Yes movement. I would hope people on the outside of this internal argument will not be drawn in and will concentrate on building the Yes movement as a distinctive entity in its own right.”