A week is a long time in politics
I’d put money on the fact that Alex Salmond is squirming today after another horrendous week in his dream for Scottish Independence – and since it’s only Thursday I’m sure he’s got time to drop a few more clangers!
It started with the resignation of two of his backbenchers over the NATO u-turn announced last Friday and then came the “little” matter of not seeking legal advice on whether an independent Scotland would automatically become a member of the European Union.
Highland MSPs Jean Urquhart and John Finnie stood down in protest at the decision to end the SNP’s long-standing opposition to NATO.
Former police officer Finnie, who joined the SNP as a 16-year-old, insisted: “I can’t continue to belong to a party that quite rightly doesn’t wish to hold nuclear weapons on its soil but wants to join a first-strike nuclear alliance. Although I envisage I’ll continue to share common ground with the SNP on many issues, I can’t in good conscience continue to take the party whip.”
Urquhart, who has been a supporter of independence for 25 years, said: “Nuclear disarmament and removing Trident from Scotland’s waters is a red line issue for me. I couldn’t remain committed to a party that has committed itself to retaining membership of NATO.”
This all seemed bad enough but to then find out that the SNP Government didn’t feel it necessary to obtain legal advice over such an important matter as to whether a separate Scotland could join the European Union was laughable to say the least!
The First Minister then decided it was ok to miss a House of Lords committee inquiry yesterday into the economic consequences of Scotland breaking away from the UK. The meeting in Edinburgh City Chambers was the first time a Lords committee has sat outside Westminster and was attended by a host of Scot politicians, including ex-Chancellor Alistair Darling and all opposition leaders. Mr Salmond blanked the session to attend the book launch of a local businessman’s biography at the Britannia Spice restaurant in Leith.
And today Salmond left it to Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, to admit that it was “unfortunate” that the SNP had given a wrong impression over whether they had taken legal advice on an independent Scotland’s place in Europe. Reiterating her leader’s stance that they had never confirmed whether or not they did have legal advice because they were not allowed to do so under the ministerial code, she conceded the impression had been created that ministers had already taken legal advice on the matter.
Perhaps to emphasise the fact that politics is a very smelly business, it is perhaps no coincidence that both the First and Deputy First Ministers have the names of fishes in Salmon(d) and Sturgeon ….. I rest my case!