For obvious legal reasons, there's a limit to what any of us can say about Nicola Sturgeon's arrest yesterday, although we can certainly note the unintentional hilarity of the unionist media - of both nominally 'left-wing' and 'right-wing' varieties, not that it's easy to tell the difference these days - claiming that the episode has killed the independence cause, which they've been claiming for years was already dead. Let's face it, if John Swinney burnt his toast tomorrow morning, Paul Hutcheon would take the cue to write yet another breathless editorial about the end of independence.
The other point that can reasonably be made is about Nicola Sturgeon's non-suspension from the SNP in circumstances in which it is surely unthinkable that any parliamentarian from outwith the SNP's ruling faction would not be swiftly suspended. Senior people in the Alba Party are often accused of an excessive level of personalised vitriol against Nicola Sturgeon, and at times I've agreed with those accusations, but it must never be forgotten that the anger against her is not some mysterious, inexplicable phenomenon that appeared out of thin air - many within Alba had previously, as SNP members of long standing, suffered grievous injustices at the hands of the Sturgeon leadership. Denise Findlay, as I recall, was informed of some trumped-up accusation of antisemitism (all she had done was criticise the State of Israel in a tweet) and bullied into an instant, public resignation from the SNP within the same phone call. Neale Hanvey was summarily suspended in the middle of a general election campaign without any due process, also on the grounds of highly dubious claims of antisemitism, which meant that all SNP support for his candidacy in Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath was instantly withdrawn. I was still an SNP member at the time, and I recall blogging about how furious I was, not just about the personal injustice done to Mr Hanvey, but also about the strategic stupidity of gift-wrapping a crucial constituency and attempting to hand it to Labour, all in the name of virtue-signalling. And Grouse Beater was of course notoriously expelled from the party simply for an ambiguous line in a blogpost that had in an ultra-contrived way been 'interpreted' as antisemitism. No sign of any 'benefit of the doubt' principle there.
And yet Nicola Sturgeon most certainly seems to want a 'benefit of the doubt' principle to apply to her, judging from the statement she put out last night which accorded less priority to the integrity of the process than to her own personal feelings of innocence. Well, Denise Findlay, Neale Hanvey, Grouse Beater and Michelle Thomson doubtless knew in their own hearts that they were innocent, and yet they were all still subject to a very harsh process by the SNP under Nicola Sturgeon. It would be against natural justice for Ms Sturgeon to be suspended now, but it was also against natural justice that all the previous suspensions took place when she was leader. To avoid charges of hypocrisy and special treatment, the right and proper thing for her to do would probably be to voluntarily resign from the party until the police investigation is concluded, in line with the precedent set by Alex Salmond.
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