First and foremost, the Yes movement is about the belief that Scotland would be better off as an independent country. Whatever anyone might think about Craig Murray and his views and any controversial claims he has made, no-one can realistically doubt that his belief in independence is genuine and total. There is no need for people who may not even believe in independence to "reclaim" the movement from those who do.
It would certainly be absurd to try to reclaim it from Alex Salmond, who literally led the Yes campaign in the 2014 referendum. And yet that is what some people are attempting. Ms Garavelli talks about the vitriol directed at her and other critics of Mr Salmond after the trial, and yet there was a fair bit of vitriol flying in the other direction as well. In particular, there was a none-too-subtle orchestrated attempt (involving a small number of senior SNP parliamentarians who used conveniently indirect language) to reframe Mr Salmond's acquittal as being the outcome of an 'illegitimate defence' that was somehow generically harmful to women and that should preclude his involvement in the SNP in the future.
Ms Garavelli returns to that theme today, suggesting that the threshold for Mr Salmond's political "rehabilitation" (is there a need to "rehabilitate" someone who was acquitted?) ought to be higher than the avoidance of a criminal conviction, and she points to a couple of incidents that he did admit to in court as disqualifying behaviour. Different people will have different views on this, but I must say I'm not convinced. Ms Garavelli herself describes one of the incidents as "consensual", but nevertheless tries to use it to demonise Mr Salmond on the basis of the large age gap. But as I understand it, we're talking about women who were well into their twenties at the time. This is not a Derek Mackay or Mark McDonald scenario. If we're going to exclude from the SNP anyone who at any point in their lives behaved less than impeccably during consensual encounters with individuals who were well over the age of consent, there aren't going to be many people left in the party.
And yet that prospect won't deter Mr Salmond's most fanatical critics, because they do want the SNP and the Yes movement to be much more narrowly based. They want it to exclude heterosexual men whose private lives fall short of a radical feminist ideal. They want it to exclude anyone who isn't on one particular side of a debate over trans rights that is by no means settled as far as the general public is concerned. And most bizarrely and troublingly of all, they want it to exclude anyone who doesn't adhere to certain hardline orthodoxies on the subject of Russia. If the independence movement needs to be reclaimed from anyone at all, it's from people who seem to regard purity on the above topics as more important than independence itself.
I remain firmly of the view that setting up a new independence party would be a mistake. Even if it's led by someone high profile enough to have a chance of winning list seats, the prospect of two pro-indy parties who regard each other with disdain due to a 'cultural' divide does not strike me as a recipe for furthering the cause of independence in the longer term. But the SNP leadership have as much of a responsibility as anyone for avoiding that outcome - they need to ensure that the party is not a cold house for opponents of self-ID, for supporters of Palestinian rights, for those who happen to think RT or Sputnik aren't worse than the BBC or Sky, and above all for people who actually believe passionately in independence. If such people feel they no longer have a place within the SNP, they'll find somewhere else to go, and that'll be a lose/lose for all concerned.
Ms Garavelli accuses Mr Salmond of planning to "set fire to the house he built just to watch his enemies burn". But arguably he's simply doing the same thing as his accusers would say they did - putting justice ahead of political considerations. It's easy to sneer at suggestions of Mr Salmond being "set up" by citing the full range of conspiratorial actors that Craig Murray has accused, but you don't have to believe the "Deep State" was involved to think there may be an issue here. From what I can gather, the central allegation is that a number of people within the SNP coordinated with each other, due to a misplaced fear that Nicola Sturgeon's leadership of the party might be seriously threatened if Mr Salmond's credibility wasn't totally destroyed. If there's any evidence to support that allegation, it should be investigated with an open mind rather than dismissed as a crank conspiracy theory - just as the allegations against Mr Salmond were thoroughly investigated and tested.