‘Scotland’s leadership has failed’ says Salmond

Gotta say it was impressive, he completely destroyed the SNP and the Scottish Government without even stating any individuals (we all knew he was talking about Sturgeon and her cohorts). It was also telling that Salmond was confident with the committee looking very hesistant and nervous. They ought to be.

Question is not whether or not it will be Salmond that will end up taking down the SNP and Scotland’s chance of independence but whether or not the voters like what the SNP did to Salmond. It would tell us a lot about the Scottish people.

Full article from the Telegraph paper below…

Downing Street has been urged to intervene in the escalating Salmond-Sturgeon feud as the former Scottish First Minister accused his successor of leadership “failure”.

Douglas Ross, the Scottish Conservative leader, told The Telegraph that the Cabinet Office should investigate whether Scottish civil servants broke the code of conduct in their handling of complaints against Alex Salmond.

On Friday, Mr Salmond used an extraordinary six-hour evidence session to detail claims that there was a conspiracy against him involving his one-time protege Nicola Sturgeon. She denies the allegation.

Appearing before a Scottish parliamentary committee, Mr Salmond took aim at the top of the Scottish political establishment with the cameras rolling, saying: “Scotland hasn’t failed, its leadership has failed.”

The open warfare between the two most prominent figures in the Scottish National Party risks undercutting support for independence just as the SNP is seeking to ramp up calls for a second referendum.

On Wednesday, Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, will attempt to use his Budget to underline the economic benefits of the Union amid mounting concern over its fragility. Mr Sunak will announce a multi-billion pound spending spree in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland aimed at improving transport links and speeding up regeneration.

A senior Treasury source said: “You can definitely expect a positive Union narrative that runs throughout the Budget.”

Weeks of back-room briefings, legal challenges and speculation about appearances came to a head on Friday when Mr Salmond appeared in Holyrood to lay out his claims.

The former SNP leader, who last year was acquitted of all sexual assault charges, has alleged Ms Sturgeon and others of working to further the allegations made against him. The claims have raised questions about whether leading SNP government figures have leant on politically impartial Scottish civil servants.

In an interview with The Telegraph, Mr Ross called on Whitehall to look into the role that Leslie Evans, Scotland’s top civil servant, played in the ongoing controversy.

Ms Evans is under intense scrutiny over how harassment complaints against Mr Salmond were mishandled by the Scottish government, which admitted it had acted unlawfully during its investigations and paid Mr Salmond’s legal fees of more than £500,000.

Her line manager is effectively Simon Case, the Cabinet Secretary and head of the UK civil service, meaning he has the power to look into her conduct.

Mr Ross said that once the Scottish parliamentary committee probing the row had completed its work, the UK civil service should also look into what happened.

“It’s right that we wait for that committee to look at it. But ultimately, the overall management of the civil service in Scotland is part of the UK-wide civil service,” he said. “And I believe the UK-wide civil service has to look at what’s happening in Scotland and the behaviour of the civil servants and how that compares to their own code of conduct.”

Mr Case is one of Boris Johnson’s closest advisers. Number 10 is watching the feud north of the border carefully, but has been reluctant to get involved. Downing Street spokesmen have dismissed attempts to be drawn into commenting on the matter in press briefings this week.

Some well-placed Government sources believe it is politically astute for Downing Street to stay out of the row, but some Tory MPs are arguing that the UK Government cannot turn a blind eye.

During his evidence to a Scottish Parliament inquiry, Mr Salmond said there was “no doubt” that Ms Sturgeon had broken rules governing ministers’ conduct as he suggested her government was not fit to lead Scotland to independence.

The former first minister alleged a “malicious scheme” among senior SNP figures close to his successor to damage his reputation, and called for the resignation of Ms Evans.

“The failures of leadership are many and obvious but not a single person has taken responsibility, not a single resignation or sacking, not even admonition,” he said. “The Scottish civil service has not failed, its leadership has. The Crown Office has not failed, its leadership has failed. Scotland hasn’t failed, its leadership has failed.”

Mr Salmond said he did not have evidence that Ms Sturgeon herself was part of the alleged plot, but that he had evidence that it existed “way beyond” the documents he presented to the inquiry. During the evidence session, carried live by TV news channels, he accused the Crown Office of abusing legislation his government introduced to “obstruct” him from providing all the documents he wanted to.

He also claimed Ms Sturgeon committed multiple breaches of the ministerial code – usually a resigning matter – by misleading parliament over when she found out about the allegations and failing to correct the record. He directly contradicted her by stating that a senior Scottish government official gave the name of one of the women who lodged complaints about him to his former chief of staff, and said three people could corroborate this.

He used his closing remarks to suggest the committee conducting the inquiry could get round the Scottish government roadblock by using its legal powers to order his solicitors to provide all the information they have. The former First Minister pledged that the information would be handed over in time for the appearances before the inquiry of Ms Sturgeon and James Wolffe, the Lord Advocate, next week.

A spokesman for Ms Sturgeon said: “The people of Scotland have shown, in poll after poll and election after election, that they back the leadership of the SNP and of Nicola Sturgeon.

“Today was Alex Salmond’s chance to provide proof of the conspiracy which has been alleged – and he did not do so. Instead, under oath, he explicitly conceded there was no such evidence against the First Minister, and also gave testimony which directly undermined some of the central planks of the conspiracy theories.

“The First Minister now looks forward to addressing all of the issues Mr Salmond raised, and much more besides, when she finally gets the opportunity to address the committee next week.”

The Budget speech on Wednesday is likely to see repeated nods to how the Treasury’s financial support benefits the whole of the UK. It comes as polls show that a majority of Scots support independence, and Brexit triggering renewed tensions in Northern Ireland.

Previewing Mr Sunak’s pro-Union message, Steve Barclay, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, outlined to The Telegraph the argument that would be made.

“While the SNP are obsessed with infighting and independence, this Government has been getting on with responding to the crisis and protecting the jobs and livelihoods of the Scottish people,” he said. “Schemes like furlough have saved over a million jobs in Scotland, and at the Budget next week this Government will continue to ensure that support is provided for families and businesses across the United Kingdom.”

Mr Sunak will announce £4.8 billion of new investment in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland via an extension in the Levelling Up Fund.