I was contacted by Steve Norris who asked me to post the text below. I’m very happy to do that. I don’t know Steve but he’s of my parent’s generation in the SNP, which means he’s been a loyal SNP member for 50-odd years. It is people like Steve who save parties like the SNP in times like this.
It shouldn’t be. When parties go off the rails like the SNP is, it is supposed to be the party grandees who step forward, people who’s long commitment to the party is now no longer transactional. They’re supposed to be the people with wisdom and authority who step in when things are wrong, acting like guardians of the soul of a party.
The SNP does not have these grandees. The most obvious candidate is Mike Russell and Mike has shamed himself by acting like just another Murrell enforcer (and yes, he does at least look deeply uncomfortable about it, but no, not enough to prize a conscience out of him). It’s like in 2010 when Scottish Labour’s grandees were in total denial and so were the problem and not the solution.
There are a couple of politicians who have been willing to speak out about what is going on but damn few. Encouragingly a ‘source close to Stephen Flynn’ appears to be one of them, saying to the National (about another dodgy deal) “The whole thing is deeply unsatisfactory… it’s potentially unlawful and potentially a breach of the campaign rules passed by the NEC. Whoever signed this off has got serious questions to answer.”
That is because SNP staffers are suddenly finding holidays no-one knew they had to go and work full time for the Humza campaign. I know of at least one other person who has had their contract ‘suspended’ so they can work full time for Humza. I am intrigued as to how that salary contribution can be squared with a £5k spending limit.
Meanwhile my own MSP is offering local members a one-to-one meeting with Humza. The rules of the contest state unequivocally that “invitations to any event must be issued to all candidates”. But apparently if you call it a ‘conversation’ it stops being an ‘event’ and then you can do whatever the fuck you want. Because no-one’s even pretending anymore.
The machinery that runs the SNP has been rotten for a long time now, as in ‘escalated police investigation’ rotten. It is the respected elder members who should be doing something about it but the machinery forced a lot of them out of the party and the rest are complicit. When that happens, all that is left is the members. They stand up or they don’t.
Here is Steve Norris (who hasn’t decided who he’s voting for, but it won’t be Humza) standing up. In fact here’s Mr Norris channelling his inner Chuck.
Individuals at the highest level at party HQ – and I mean the highest level – against all advice, permitted Ms Harper access to the private emails of thousands of SNP members
Regarding events over the last few days, I wish to place on record that all three contenders for the leadership of the Scottish National Party have admirable qualities. However, I do not believe Humza Yousaf should become First Minister of Scotland. I hold that belief for two reasons, one carrying greater weight than the other.
Firstly, it is my view that he is not the strongest candidate, not least because he entered the race partly at the behest of powerful figures in our party seeking to maintain continuity and, importantly, their positions and reputation.
Secondly, and of greater import – this a direct consequence of the first – the election campaign, in the eyes of many, has become tainted by apparent bias. The apology from Emma Harper regarding her blatant misuse of the party’s internal email system to promote Mr Yousaf is evidence enough.
But where is the redress? Were this a criminal offence the sheriff would order the persons responsible to pay compensation. The offenders would not be allowed to walk out of court simply because a ‘mistake’ was admitted, and an apology offered by one of those involved.
At the very least, Ms Forbes and Ms Regan, or one of their prominent supporters, should be offered the same facility to issue a one-off email to the same South of Scotland members whom Ms Harper lobbied.
Note I use the term ‘offenders’. There’s a very good reason for that. Individuals at the highest level at party HQ – and I mean the highest level – against all advice, permitted Ms Harper access to the private emails of thousands of SNP members from Portpatrick to Eyemouth.
This was the database used to shamelessly promote Mr Yousaf to the exclusion of Kate Forbes and Ash Regan. Questions regarding a possible GDPR breach obviously arise – along with the prospect of a possible legal challenge should Mr Yousaf prevail by a narrow margin. Their consent would have to be sent first, possibly through an opt-out reply, for receipt of a message from the other two candidates.
How many SNP members not plugged into social media, or without any great interest in politics save for support for an independent Scotland, were swayed by Ms Harper’s shameful missive?
We shall never know – but the breach of party rules conceivably could become the centre point of any future action by either Ms Forbes or Ms Regan, or both.
A complete reset of our party’s internal democracy is urgently needed along with a vital and active strategy for securing – not merely talking about – independence
My party, the national party of our country, the party with the aim of securing independence, is on unsafe ground because of this egregious act, which can only have been facilitated by the most senior of people at HQ.
I find this situation profoundly sad – and I am incandescent at how the democratic power of the SNP, a power is delegated to the leadership by members, had been systematically abused and suffocated. I have already placed on record that I have written proof Ms Harper met with Mr Yousaf the day before she sent the email to discuss strategy and priorities in the south.
I was not a parrot on her shoulder listening to that conversation but along with countless others to whom I have spoken, I find the assertion that the communication was issued without Mr Yousaf’s or party HQ’s knowledge simply untenable.
Finally, we have the Clydesdale situation, wherein Mr Yousaf was given sole opportunity to address members last night. I have no idea whether this, again, breaches party rules – but image is all and perceptions matter.
One question does arise. Mr Yousaf contacted Mairi McAllan seeking to talk with members.
A hustings was suggested with the peculiar rider that “obviously, any of the other candidates are able to speak to us too”, said Mairi in her circular.
Well, I should hope so, Mairi. Then, without any indication as to why, that format changed to a “Conversation with Humza”. I understand neither Ash nor Kate was contacted or invited to the “hustings”. Was the first message simply a cover to pave the way for the second?
Or would the hustings have run the risk of prejudice and bias because the ridiculously short timescale precluded Ms Forbes and Ms Regan from preparing properly – unlike Mr Yousaf who would have had the Clydesdale info at his fingertips?
I have made my views plain on what should happen next regarding Mr Yousaf’s candidature.
They have nothing to do with his qualities as a politician, of which there are several.
This is about the principles of fairness, equality of opportunity and justice – all of which have been tarnished in this flawed electoral process.
A complete reset of our party’s internal democracy is urgently needed along with a vital and active strategy for securing – not merely talking about – independence, for which, despite everything, there remains majority support.