This afternoon, in the Robert Burns room of the Scottish Parliament, former First Minister Alex Salmond, for so many years the supreme political force north of the border, came out swinging against his successor Nicola Sturgeon and the wider Scottish establishment. In a remarkable evidence session, Salmond attacked the leadership of the Scottish government, suggested that the inquiry into its behaviour had its ‘hands tied behind its back with a blindfold on’, and argued that Nicola Sturgeon had broken the ministerial code.
Salmond’s evidence to the Holyrood inquiry – set up to investigate the Scottish government’s handling of complaints made against him – had already been mired in controversy. The Scottish Parliament had first refused to publish his written evidence until The Spectator went to court to ensure it saw the light of day. The committee then briefly published his evidence, before withdrawing it and redacting key passages about Sturgeon, after being contacted by the Crown Office. What was at stake today therefore, was not just about how much Nicola Sturgeon knew and what she did about allegations made against Salmond, but the credibility of Scotland’s institutions and its ability to investigate alleged wrongdoing.
Here are the key moments from the session:
Scotland hasn’t failed, its leadership has failed
In his opening statement Salmond pointed out that some had recently compared Scotland to a failed state. Salmond said he did not agree this was the case. But he argued that the leadership of key institutions was not up to scratch. In his words: ‘Scotland hasn’t failed, its leadership has failed’
So began a remarkable string of attacks on Nicola Sturgeon’s leadership. Salmond suggested that it was absurd that no one had been held accountable for the Scottish government’s botched investigation into complaints against him, which was found to have broken the law by the Court of Session.