Alex Salmond tried calmly, controlled and forensically to finish off his protégé, but it could well be voters who do the job
Anyone with the slightest doubt that we are about to see the bloody end to a rather spectacular political phenomenon, namely the double act of Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon, couldn’t have caught even the briefest snapshots of his icy-sincere performance at Holyrood Friday. It’s over, and so must the love affair that a large part of the Scottish electorate seems to have had with Ms. Sturgeon over the past year. The Diehards will stay, but how can they normally keep non-nationalist voters who they defeated in the 2014 referendum and who were won over by their daily television appearances in the fight against the Covid? And the polls suggest they could support them in an election two months from now and in every subsequent referendum. But Salmond said Friday that Ms. Sturgeon was unable to run an independent country and that she had undoubtedly violated the ministerial code of what they knew and when she made allegations of sexual assault against him. He believed it was up to an independent investigation – not him – to decide whether she should resign, but Salmond raged against the fact that the Crown Office said evidence could be released and subsequently said it was “unpublished ” should be. This was a subject that he believed should cause the Lord Advocate to “consider his position,” in other words, to table his resignation. Salmond said he was the subject of a “witch hunt” by people close to the First Minister, including Peter Murrell – Mrs. Sturgeon’s husband – who had reached out to people to level allegations against him. And after a judicial inquiry found an investigation by the Scottish Government in his favor – costing the taxpayer over £ 500,000 – a senior government special adviser had told a colleague, “We will bring him to the criminal trial.” Salmond said the Scottish government had delayed judicial review even if they knew they were going to lose, in hopes that the criminal case against him would “ride to the rescue like the cavalry coming over the hill”. In a portrayal of all the forensic debaters that once made him a power not only in Scottish but also in British politics, Salmond tried to finish off his former protégé as a political leader. He said that despite all the bad publicity, the country has suffered in recent days. “Scotland did not fail, its leadership failed.” He said he wanted Scotland to be independent, but he also wanted there to be robust safeguards somewhere where citizens were not subject to “arbitrary authority”. Wearing an SNP tie and lapel badge – he’s not a party member now – he remained largely calm and controlled as he carefully went through a catalog of campaigns that he termed campaigns against him. No one should forget this as Sturgeon will no doubt make this clear when she testifies next week. The root of this incredible saga was allegations of sexual assault against Salmond – allegations he denied – by two officials. And when members of the committee tried to question him about that episode, he repeated the same mantra twice – namely two judges and one judge had acquitted him. He urged the committee to continue to reach an agreement on the release of the censored evidence, but regarding his main target – his successor as First Minister – Salmond said so while he did not make any allegations against anyone he did not could confirm. Because of this, he had made no specific allegations against Sturgeon. However, in some sort of threat, he insisted that he be prevented from revealing evidence that went well beyond what he was previously allowed to divulge. In the end, however, one question remains based on the evidence we heard on Friday. Can voters really continue to say that they will keep their confidence in Sturgeon when they understand that they are supporting a government that is tarnishing not only the good name of major national institutions but Scotland itself?