Alex Salmond: Blink

EdinburghEye on Ko-FiThis was first posted on Facebook on 27th February 2021, with support from my Ko-Fi network.

The Scottish Parliament has been in existence since 1999: Nicola Sturgeon is the present First Minister, and there are five previous First Ministers, four living, as Donald Dewar died within the first 12 months. The other four are Henry McLeish (now 72), Labour: Jim Wallace (now 66), LibDem – who was Acting First Minister on two separate occasions: Jack McConnell (now 60), Labour – and Alex Salmond (now 66), SNP. Jim Wallace and Jack McConnell accepted life peerages when they ceased to be MSPs: Henry McLeish did not, and after 2016 declared he’d support an independent Scotland if Westminster enacted Brexit against Scotland’s will.

Prior to 2010, if a First Minister – or any minister in the Scottish Government – had sexually pestered a subordinate, the Scottish Government had no policy of how to deal with this. In 2010, a policy was developed: we know that none of the women Salmond pestered made use of it – and no previous First Minister could have been affected by it.

Me Too bannerIn 2017, apparently inspired by the Me Too movement and by the publicisation of sexual harassment at Westminster, the Scottish Government proposed a new policy “to ensure zero tolerance of harassment in respect of Parliament as a workplace” – this also arose out of a project to prevent bullying in the Scottish Parliament as a workplace, instigated in 2015. Nicola Sturgeon was certainly, in 2017, the instigator of increased focus on developing a policy on sexual harassment.

Nicola Sturgeon has said she didn’t know about Alex Salmond’s behaviour towards women til 2018.

I am not accusing her of lying. But it seems to me that Sturgeon might well have been aware at some level that things were not right: that Salmond’s behaviour wasn’t right.

We know, at least, that Sturgeon was made officially aware of the complaints against Salmond either by the end of March or the beginning of April 2018. It seems possible that her initial reaction was to try to ensure it was not made public: and then she realised this was not possible – either because of the extent of Salmond’s activities, or at the point where it became clear to the investigation that evidence must be passed to Police Scotland: it is not lawful for an employer to keep sexual assault, or rape, as an internal matter: crimes must be reported to the police.

Alex Salmond, in his testimony Friday afternoon, laid repeated stress on the fact that the judicial review of the investigation into his behaviour (he crowdfunded £100,000 to pay his costs, a shrewd move – once someone has donated to a crowdfunder, they are the more likely to believe in the person they supported) was found to have acted unlawfully, unfairly and “tainted by apparent bias”.

That may be, but as the facts came out in the court case, Salmond had done the things the investigation found him to have done. Salmond feels the investigation failed him and the women he had pestered sexually, but he never quite explained what the investigation should have done instead, except that it shouldn’t have been retrospective – that he, as no longer a Minister, shouldn’t have been investigated under the changed rules.

Salmond also laid stress on the fact that a court heard the evidence of the nine witnesses Salmond had pestered with his unwelcome and unwanted attentions, and decided that his pestering didn’t meet the high bar of a criminal conviction – though they did listen to Salmond’s defence that a woman shoved down on a bed by a drunken man is just being “sleepily cuddled” and decide he was Not Proven for attempted rape. Being acquitted of criminal charges in court doesn’t unhappen Salmond’s behaviour and doesn’t make his revealed characteristics disappear again, though it seems Salmond rather thinks it should.
Salmond’s entire defence seems to be: “If the Scottish Government and the civil servants in Parliament had done things correctly, I would have got away with everything and no one would have known what I did to those women.” Which, he seems to think, would have been better for the women who testified, too. (Which is not for him to decide.)

Nicola Sturgeon is to give evidence next week. I expect she won’t insist the Committee meets on a day Parliament is not usually open.

Ruth Wishart, in her Guardian article about the situation, doesn’t mention that among the fault-lines, is Joanna Cherry trying to scoop up the Salmond supporters by describing herself as his friend, by not condemning his behaviour – and also collecting the male conservative vote with attacks on trans people: she does acknowledge that some SNP supporters find Nicola Sturgeon’s cautious approach to the next independence referendum intolerably painstaking and want something faster and splashier – though as far as I can see, the cautious approach is the one most likely to succeed.

Joanna Cherry published a column in January in The National in which she used the civil war in Ireland and founding of the Irish Free State, as an example of “thinking outside the box” and not needing a referendum for independence. She was viciously furious with all critics of this violent approach to independence, it apparently not having occurred to her before publication that appearing to advocate violent insurrection is not a thing a QC and MP should do. No matter if her historical knowledge has a complete disconnect between Irish independence and the Easter Rising.

Thus far, for all the London-centric media and unionist parties hoisting Alex Salmond’s testimony high as proof that the Scottish Parliament is not fit for purpose, his insinuations of corruption and conspiracy do not seem to have affected the Scottish voters views on Sturgeon. Of course there are over two months to go before the Scottish Parliament elections.

If the SNP win a majority, Nicola Sturgeon has made clear, she will begin the slow process of making happen a second referendum, carried out lawfully, which – if a majority of us vote for independence – will let iScotland leave the rest of the UK to the Tories, and let us proceed with the business of making a nation we can be proud of. If we rush and shout and splatter threats of violence and civil war, this will not happen. The Joanna Cherry/Alex Salmond faction in the SNP are not people I would trust to run a campaign for independence, or to launch us as an independent country. We’ve seen what happened with Brexit. We must do better. We can do better.

And it is clear neither the Conservatives nor Labour want us to do better. We will be faced with social media campaigning for a low turnout in the May elections, for a low turnout in the subsequent election referendum: these are the tactics Boris Johnson used to get a 80-seat majority in December 2019, and there’s no reason to suppose he won’t try them again in May 2021.

Scotland has just become the first country to elect a Muslim to be leader of one of the main political parties – Anas Sarwar won the Scottish Labour leadership election: and the UK Supreme Court yesterday decided that the Home Secretary can unceremoniously strip a Muslim girl of her British citizenship and leave her a stateless refugee on the grounds that she is a threat to public safety. (She’s not Buffy, and we’re not vampires. Shamima Begum is no threat.)

Alex Salmond, 2021These things are more important than the angry ravings of a man who sees his career in politics dissolve thanks to his own nasty behaviour towards women.


Filed under Police, Scottish Politics, Women

11 responses to “Alex Salmond: Blink

  1. Scurra

    Indeed. As I noted in my other reply, from down here in London it’s clear that the effort is to try and paint the SNP as populist nationalists (which seems to be the Cherry line), rather than civic nationalists (which seems to be the Sturgeon line and which appears to be doing fairly well at keeping the left and the right on board.)

    Speaking personally, I would be sad to see Great Britain (and then the United Kingdom) break apart like this. But political unions are not permanent, and it’s possible that the only way to ‘save’ England is to force this issue. Brexit has already exposed the faultlines; it may be that the Titanic has long since been fatally holed below the waterline and we’re just waiting around for the sudden snapping-in-half which will still seemingly come as something of a surprise.

    • I thought I was fairly even-handed about independence in 2014 (and ended up voting No).

      Brexit is a game-changer. It’s no use saying “leaving the UK means years of austerity and difficulty” – staying IN the UK means years of austerity and difficulty, thanks to Brexit, with nothing at all to show for it.

  2. John Jones

    I watched Alex Salmond give his evidence on the Scottish Government website without pause from 12.30 onwards. It was electrifying. Here is the link:

    Please indicate on the timeline where you witnessed the “angry ravings” of which you write. I certainly did not see any and, believe me, I was paying close attention.

  3. cherson

    Well said. Refreshing to hear some cogent analysis of this issue for once. I wasn’t aware of the Joanna Cherry article you mention but makes her absence from the front bench more understandable.

  4. Oh? You thought that when Salmond claimed he was the victim of a malicious conspiracy, this wasn’t him angrily raving?

    Well, you’re entitled to your opinion. I think Alex Salmond is an angry man, & I think that when he creates a torturous view of reality that strives to make him the victim, he is raving.

    • John Jones

      Thank you for your reply.
      I repeat, please indicate the passages on the timeline where we can judge for ourselves evidence or otherwise of the ‘angry ravings’ of which you speak. I have, after all, provided you with the link.
      ‘Tortuous view of reality’. Hyperbole, much?
      Of course he’s angry, but he showed remarkable restraint during some of the understandably partisan questioning by some in the Inquiry Committee despite the embargo on his disclosing more evidence backing his assertions (already in the public eye, and available to anyone). What was all that about? And please don’t insult my intelligence by claiming it was in order to preserve the anonymity of the complainants.
      Cards on the table, I fully acknowledge that he may have a history of alleged unpleasantness and bullying towards work colleagues of both sexes, and by all accounts alleged predatory and opportunistic behaviour towards women colleagues. I find this behaviour objectionable and unpardonable and do not condone it. He is no saint.
      The fact remains that an all women jury found him not guilty of criminal activity, and one witness for the prosecution was, I believe, entirely discredited ( and that’s being kind). You may not like the court’s verdict. May I respectfully submit that you deal with it.
      I have always until recently warmed to Nicola Sturgeon and thought that she was a good strong leader in whom one could have confidence. She talks a good talk and has been excellent on Covid.
      In the attempts to stitch up Alex Salmond, she has been badly advised.
      It’ll end in tears.

      • I also provided you with the link, John – it’s inside the post, to the written record of Alex Salmond’s testimony. I’d suggest you read it, but i expect you are locked into your ideas and won’t be changed by them.

        despite the embargo on his disclosing more evidence backing his assertions (already in the public eye, and available to anyone)

        Unlawfully made available. You do realise that two High Court judges as well as the Crown Office banned Alex Salmond’s repeated attempts to disclose?

        You may not like the court’s verdict. May I respectfully submit that you deal with it.

        Alas, we all have to deal with it, don’t we? Alex Salmond got away with his nasty, slimy, sex pestering of women, and now complains that he is the victim. What a silly, egotistical bully he is.

  5. John Jones

    Again, thank you for your reply.
    Mere reading of the transcript which you suggest I undertake cannot convey the demeanour of the witness -calm, agitated, angry, surly, intemperate, furious or reasonable, for example. A picture, or in this case a video of these proceedings however, tells a thousand stories. Again I draw to your attention that I missed not one minute of the Scottish Government broadcast.
    I note that you are again deflecting my request for specific and verifiable footage of your assertion of ‘anger’ on the part of AS, and can only surmise that you are unable to do so.
    I learnt many years ago that when one is in a hole, one stops digging,-an idea perhaps you may wish to contemplate, or not.
    I note also that you assume that I am “locked into my ideas, and am unable to change them.” Let me assure you that ‘the older I get, the less I know’. My ideas change on a daily basis and are formed by the evidence gleaned from as many credible sources as I can read (and I don’t mean the MSM)!
    I’m only sorry that I have to consider very carefully whether to vote SNP now, whereas previously I would not have hesitated, and await the Fabiani Inquiry result with interest.
    All the best.

    • I draw your attention to the fact that you have again ignored my quoting from Alex Salmond’s angry ravings, and you have admitted that you know Alex Salmond is angry – even if you think his ravings about a “malicious conspiracy” constitute a sane view.

      If you are capable of changing your mind, perhaps you will. However, your repeated refusal to take any information that goes against your fixed mindset doesn’t suggest you’re as flexible as you think you are. Dunnings-Kruger suggests that you will keep digging.

      • John Jones

        Well, thank you for sharing that with us.
        In truth, your aggressive and graceless rebuttal tells us more about you than it does about me. It seems that you resort to ad hominem attack when all else fails for you, the behaviour of a bully…..
        It’s actually Dunning-Kruger btw, and no, I didn’t have to look it up.
        I leave it to any readers to form their own conclusions, if any, about the respective observations that we have both made.
        May I wish you every success in your future endeavours, whatever they may be. No further correspondence with you will be entered into.

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