Scotland

Stephen Daisley

Matheson’s suspension has come at a terrible time for the SNP

The Scottish parliament has voted to suspend former SNP cabinet minister Michael Matheson for 27 sitting days and dock his salary for 54 calendar days. It comes after Matheson was found to have broken the MSP code of conduct on expenses and use of parliamentary resources. Matheson ran up an £11,000 mobile data bill during a family holiday in Morocco and tried to have the taxpayer pick up the tab. Despite initially claiming no knowledge of how such a large bill was incurred, he later said that his sons had run up the charges while using the device’s hotspotting function to stream Celtic football matches.  The vote broke down 64

John Swinney’s wounds are self-inflicted

John Swinney has said that he will make sure the public sees enough of him over the election campaign. But do they want to? In the latest Survation poll, conducted for True North over the weekend he is now the third most popular leader in this race of also-rans, with an approval rating of -7.  Sir Keir Starmer is top and the Scottish Labour leader, Anas Sarwar, is second most popular at -3. This fall from grace may not be unconnected with Mr Swinney’s much-criticised defence last week of his disgraced ‘friend and colleague’ Michael Matheson, of iPad fame. Mr Matheson had been censured by the Holyrood Standards Committee for trying to claim,

The SNP has finally given up on Greta Thunberg

It is less than three years since Nicola Sturgeon was taking selfies with Greta Thunberg at the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow. Now in this election the climate, if you’ll excuse the pun, has changed beyond all recognition. Gone is the moral posturing and climate alarmism of recent years as the Scottish parties desperately roll back on their climate rhetoric in the face of huge job losses in Scotland’s energy sector. Black is the new green. Oil and gas companies are no longer climate pariahs. It was of course Nicola Sturgeon back in 2021 who made Scotland the first country in the world  to declare a ‘climate emergency’. We cannot

Stephen Daisley

Which seats are the Scottish Tories targeting in the election?

The Scottish Conservatives were facing a difficult election this summer but SNP leader John Swinney may have thrown them a lifeline. In choosing to attack Holyrood’s standards committee for proposing a 27-day suspension for nationalist MSP Michael Matheson, Swinney has put his party on the wrong side of public opinion. Matheson was censured for running up an £11,000 data bill on his parliamentary iPad during a family holiday in Morocco and trying to have the taxpayer cover it. Swinney claims the standards process was prejudiced by one of the committee’s members and says he will oppose its recommendations. This has been a welcome surprise for the Scottish Tories. A senior

Steerpike

SNP candidates struggle to Crowdfund campaign money

Uh oh. As election campaigns kick off, a number of nationalist politicians have had a rather rocky start. The SNP has already gone into election season on the back foot as polls consistently predict the party is likely to lose around half its Westminster MPs in the next election. To make matters worse the SNP is also having trouble attracting investment while the police probe into party finances hangs hangs over it. The latest accounts show the Nats saw an £800,000 financial loss as membership numbers fell and donations dried up. Now it transpires that Scottish National party candidates have had to resort to launching Crowdfund pages to try and

Katy Balls

What does a July election mean for the SNP?

12 min listen

We have spoken a lot on the podcast this week about how a July election could be disastrous for the Conservatives, but what about the SNP? With arrests, investigations, resignations and a recent leadership change, it looks as though a snap election couldn’t come at a worse time for the Scottish nationalists. Katy Balls speaks to Lucy Dunn and Fergus Mutch, former head of communications for the SNP. 

Stephen Daisley

John Swinney is making a mess of the SNP’s election campaign

Humza Yousaf lasted just over 400 days as SNP leader. Will his replacement John Swinney get that far? The question arises so soon into his tenure because of Swinney’s decision to oppose the suspension of a former cabinet colleague. Michael Matheson resigned as health secretary in February after the taxpayer was left with an £11,000 bill for iPad data usage incurred while he was on a family holiday in Morocco. After initially claiming ignorance as to how the bill was run up, Matheson later claimed that his sons had hotspotted the data to watch football matches. Yousaf stood by Matheson, calling him a ‘man of integrity’, a locution the opposition

Can Scottish Labour really vanquish the SNP?

There is a distinct air of unreality about the position of the Scottish Labour party as it enters this election campaign. Frankly, many in the party don’t believe opinion polls suggesting, as YouGov did last week, that they are 10 per cent ahead of the SNP and could return up to 35 MPs on 4 July. ‘In yer dreams, pal’ say canvassers tramping the rainy pavements of urban Scotland. The collapse in the fortunes of the Scottish National party, and their own corresponding rise, has just been too sudden. Perhaps Anas Sarwar’s biggest task is to get his battered troops to believe After all, the Scottish Labour party currently has

John Ferry

The flaw in the SNP’s plan to strengthen Scottish shipbuilding

The Scottish government under John Swinney and his deputy Kate Forbes could be on the verge of missing an opportunity to strengthen UK/Scottish shipbuilding while possibly failing islanders and the working communities of Glasgow’s Clyde area. This is according to the former head of Scotland’s nationalised shipyard, David Tydeman, who has decided to speak out. Tydeman was unceremoniously sacked from his job as chief executive of Ferguson Marine in March. As covered here earlier this week, Tydeman had finally managed to overcome the production and design issues that had held up the two highly controversial ferries the yard has spent years and hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayer’s money trying

Steerpike

Ex-SNP chief’s charge sheet submitted to Crown Office

It’s a day that ends in ‘y’, which means more chaos for the beleaguered SNP. Now it transpires that Scotland’s Crown Office has finally received Peter Murrell’s charge sheet – after he was charged with embezzlement from the SNP over a month ago. The husband of former SNP leader and first minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon was taken into police custody for the second time on 18 April as part of the police probe into SNP finances. Shortly after the police force announced that it had charged the former SNP chief, it emerged that Murrell had also resigned his party membership. His wife, Nicola Sturgeon, and the SNP’s former treasurer Colin Beattie were

Steerpike

SNP’s Matheson handed suspension and salary cut over iPad scandal

Uh oh. In non-election news north of the border, the Scottish government’s former health secretary Michael Matheson has been handed both a suspension and salary ban after his rather humiliating £11,000 iPad scandal was exposed. As Mr S has written previously, Matheson has been in the doghouse for months after it was revealed he lied about his roaming bill and tried to make the taxpayer cover his costs. And now, it seems, he is finally getting his comeuppance… Holyrood’s standards committee has today called for Matheson to be suspended for 27 days and the cross-party group also wants to see the backbencher’s salary withdrawn for 54 days — a fine that

This election couldn’t come at a worse time for the SNP

The last time John Swinney was leader of the SNP, 20 years ago, the party went on to return only six MPs in the next general election. Labour returned 41 north of the border. Swinney had resigned the year before, but this was his electoral legacy.  The party has had a traumatic year since the precipitate departure of Nicola Sturgeon Could history be about to repeat itself now he is leader once again? The most recent YouGov poll, conducted after Swinney became leader and First Minister, suggests that Labour has a ten point lead over the SNP in Scotland. If that were maintained on polling day, the nationalists would be reduced from 43 MPs

The UK’s archaic court system is not fit for use

When I walked into court on 1 July 2022 to see my rapist Daniel McFarlane receive a sentence for his crimes against me, I expected to feel triumphant. This was my chance for closure. He’d been found guilty and now he would face the consequences. What I hadn’t anticipated, however, was that his defence lawyer Lorenzo Alonzi would use the hearing to launch into a tirade of insults against me – while I had to sit and listen in silence. Alonzi spoke of how my first-class honours degree and masters with distinction were an ‘injustice’ compared to the fate of my abuser. How we were like ‘chalk and cheese’ in

The SNP vows to make poverty history – again

There is a weary inevitability about Scotland’s First Minister, John Swinney, promising to ‘eradicate child poverty’ as his ‘single most important objective’. We’ve been here before. Both Humza Yousaf and Nicola Sturgeon promised to do exactly the same. Indeed, those of us with long memories recall the Scottish Labour minister, Wendy Alexander, vowing in 1999 at the dawn of devolution that ‘the Scottish parliament will abolish child poverty’. It hasn’t: exactly the same proportion of children, a quarter, are in poverty today as was the case 25 years ago. No amount of sophistry can obscure the reality that Scotland is treated more generously in public spending than much of the rest of the UK

John Ferry

Did the SNP miss the boat on saving commercial shipbuilding on the Clyde?

Scotland’s SNP government would like nothing better than to be seen to have saved commercial shipbuilding on the Clyde. It likes the idea so much it has spent almost half a billion pounds of taxpayer money on the effort while trying to produce two new ferries for Scotland’s island communities. How ironic would it be if an opportunity emerged to finally create a commercially viable yard in Glasgow only for nationalist politics to get in the way of it coming to fruition? Yet that may well be what has happened in recent months. If anyone is going to save commercial shipbuilding on the Clyde, it probably won’t be the SNP

Steerpike

Taxpayer-funded porn project causes uproar in Scotland

Scottish government-backed quango Creative Scotland is back in the limelight over its porn project controversy. As Mr S wrote in March, the director of a hardcore pornographic performance, ‘Rein’, managed to secure £85,000 of taxpayers’ cash for her rather, um, explicit work. Now it can be revealed that, despite officials denying full knowledge of the show’s contents before this point, Creative Scotland was in fact aware of the show’s plans to include ‘non-simulated sex acts’ a year before signing off on the hefty sum. Just when you think events in Scotland can’t get any madder… Even the progressive SNP government is rather agog at the whole thing While quango bosses

Gareth Roberts

The sad truth about ‘saint’ Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon has finally come clean: ‘I was part of the problem,’ Scotland’s former first minister has admitted, referring to the ‘trans rows’ that dogged the late stages of her time as First Minister. What’s this? Is this, at last, a frank admission of fallibility and regret from Sturgeon? A reflection on her own flaws? No, of course it isn’t. The sainted Sturgeon stepped down, by her own account, because politics in Scotland is ‘pretty polarised’. ‘There’s no one in Scotland who doesn’t have an opinion about me, whether good or bad,’ she told the Charleston Literary Festival in Sussex, as if this was anything out of the ordinary for the

Stephen Daisley

Roz Adams’s tribunal win is a victory for liberty

As the edifice of gender identity ideology continues to crumble, along comes another example of an institution not only captured but utterly distorted by this regressive and harmful theory. Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre (ERCC) has lost an employment tribunal case brought by a former staff member whose work life was made a living hell because she thought rape victims should be told whether the support worker assigned to them was male or female. Roz Adams was employed as a counselling support worker between 2021 and 2023, when she resigned after having been put through a gruelling disciplinary process over her belief in biological sex. In a scathing judgment issued today,

Steerpike

Sturgeon takes aim at young people in politics

Back to Scotland, where Nicola Sturgeon is once again stealing the spotlight. This time the former first minister decided the Charleston literary festival held in Sussex this weekend would be the perfect place from which to ruffle feathers in her own party. The SNP’s Dear Leader bemoaned the number of young people entering politics ‘for all the wrong reasons’, telling her audience that: ‘I think politics, including in my own party now, is probably too full of young people who have just come through the political ranks’. Ouch. It’s a kick in the teeth to senior SNP figures like net zero secretary Màiri McAllan who spent time as, er, Sturgeon’s

Inside Scotland’s Post Office scandal

For victims of the biggest miscarriage of justice in British legal history, this week is an important one. Paula Vennells, former chief executive of the Post Office, is set to face three days of tough questioning when she gives evidence to the inquiry into the scandal. Vennell’s highly anticipated appearance on Wednesday follows critical developments north of the border where, last week, the Scottish government announced it will push ahead with its own compensation scheme for subpostmasters. In an underreported but highly significant move, Scotland’s Crown Office also stripped the Post Office of its status as a specialist reporting agency. In the process, it inadvertently refocused attention back to Scotland’s

How the SNP broke Holyrood

Twenty-five years have passed since the opening of the Scottish parliament and the issue of just how well devolution is working is a rather awkward one for the current SNP-led government. This week, both the Scottish Conservative and Scottish Labour parties have made entirely clear that reform is needed. Labour believes that Scottish mayors might be the answer; some Conservatives want a complete overhaul of the way laws are scrutinised. The question is: would either solution work? The fact that the SNP broke the Scottish parliament is hardly new. It became clear in 2014, during a meeting of Holyrood’s European and External Affairs Committee. An expert witness, law professor Adam

Steerpike

Sturgeon laments ‘bad faith’ politics of today

The SNP’s Dear Leader never manages to stay out of the spotlight for long. Nicola Sturgeon is back on the speech circuit, this time appearing at Edinburgh University to bestow her wisdom upon some unfortunate souls. In her time away from the Holyrood frontbenches — during which she has spoken only a handful of times in the Chamber — it appears Sturgeon has been busy rewriting history. For at last night’s event, the Queen of Nats claimed that politics has changed since she resigned from the top job. Now, she claims, controversial policies ‘descend into the most vicious, toxic rammy, with bad faith arguments all over the place’. Er, has

Steerpike

Scottish Greens expel members who believe in ‘biological sex’

If you thought the Scottish Greens couldn’t get any battier, then strap in. Patrick Harvie’s barmy army has ramped up its baffling stance on gender politics and is now expelling party members for declaring that ‘sex is a biological reality’. There really are no words… The eco-zealots have turned on their own membership after a handful of activist members signed the ‘Scottish Green Declaration for Women’s Sex-Based Rights’ in a protest against the party’s position on gender issues. The unofficial declaration asserts that sex is a ‘biological reality’, women have a right to maintain sex-based protections as in the Equality Act, lesbians are same-sex attracted and ‘women and girls have