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The Holyrood inquiry could permanently damage Scottish independence

The ongoing dispute between Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond is one of the most controversial in Holyrood history. Alex Salmond, the previous First Minister of the Scottish Parliament and leader of the Scottish National Party, and his successor Nicola Sturgeon were initially a power duo in the pursuit of Scottish Independence.

The current inquiry concerns the mishandling of harassment claims which were presented against Alex Salmond by the Scottish Government.  In 2018, Alex Salmond was facing a total of 13 charges, which included claims from nine women, which consist of an SNP politician, a party worker and several current and former government officials. However, he was eventually cleared of all charges placed against him in March 2020.

Alex Salmond is now claiming that Nicola Sturgeon has been misleading government through her lying about when she found out about the allegations against him, meeting not being recording – which is a breach of the ministerial code – and for her falsifying allegations against him for political gain. This doesn’t particularly look good for Nicola Sturgeon with her husband Mr Murrell, chief executive of the SNP, sending text messages asking police to apply pressure against the former minister.

Alex Salmond claims that her introduction of policies surrounding sexual harassment in government in the background of  #MeToo was a direct aim at him

However, the inquiries have not yet concluded whether or not Nicola Sturgeon has broken the ministerial code. Alex Salmond claims that her introduction of policies surrounding sexual harassment in government in the background of #MeToo was a direct aim at him. To imply the main aim of a female politician introducing policies to combat sexual harassment against women; which is experienced daily, is to hinder him is a rather self-absorbed argument.

Nicola Sturgeon has stated that Mr Salmond’s retaliation of such allegations against her misleading Scottish Parliament and breaching ministerial code stem from frustration from him towards her refusing to “collude with him” to make the allegations of sexual misconduct against him.

Equally, it seems that those aligning themselves with Mr Salmond against Ms Sturgeon are Scottish Conservatives such as Douglas Ross who claim there is no doubt that she has broken the ministerial code. However, what we must remember is that we are not yet certain if these claims are baseless against Nicola Sturgeon. Equally, Douglas Ross and the Scottish Conservatives can’t hold their colleges in Westminster accountable for cronyism, corruption and unlawfully handing out test and trace contracts to their friends.

The Scottish Parliament is handling the allegations presented against Nicola Sturgeon seriously as they did with Alex Salmond. They have followed procedure and in light of the current climate of Holyrood have decided the correct route to conclude how to determine the outcomes of Alex Salmond’s claims of misinformation from Ms Sturgeon. They have assembled two committees to assess the two inquiries. One led by James Hamilton QC, and the other lead by a committee of MSPs. One inquiry is to analyse the allegations made against Alex Salmond was handled by Holyrood. The second is to assess whether Nicola Sturgeon breached the ministerial code. The committee has deduced that both Alex Salmond and the Scottish Parliament are attempting to impede and conceal evidence.

There have been calls for Ms Sturgeon to resign over allegations while we turn a blind eye to Prime Minister, Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party being caught red-handed, breaking lockdowns, in acts of corruption and unlawfully handing out contracts

Should Nicola Sturgeon be held accountable if she has broken the ministerial code? However, she may not be required to resign as SNP leader as the party is very popular under her leadership.  Equally it is largely dependable on whether this affects votes and how the Scottish Greens would choose to side in a vote of no confidence. Has Nicola Sturgeon broken the ministerial code? We don’t yet know, and this is important to acknowledge we don’t have any evidence as of yet to substantiate such claims. 

Certain media outlets are currently painting the image as if she is already guilty, but the inquiry has not yet concluded. Equally, it seems to highlight that we hold the Scottish First Minister to a higher standard than that of the Prime Minister. There have been calls for Ms Sturgeon to resign over allegations while we turn a blind eye to Prime Minister, Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party being caught red-handed, breaking lockdowns, in acts of corruption and unlawfully handing out contracts. 

Is Alex Salmond right to make such allegations against his successor? If he has been colluded against, yes. However, if he is making these allegations out of anger towards his successor for not supporting him when allegations were perpetrated against him, then he has been extremely selfish. As in this case, he would have put the integrity of the Scottish Parliament at risk, the power of the Scottish National Party and risk and most importantly the hopes of many Scottish people for an independent Scotland at risk.

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