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By Jason Michael
THIS IS INDEED THE SORRIEST indictment of where we are as a society, that a man with a decades-long record of unblemished public service feels compelled to resign his membership of the Scottish National Party or face expulsion following two unproven accusations of misconduct. It is utterly irrelevant whether or not these accusations are true. They are as yet unproven, and the assumption of innocent until proven guilty is – or should be – the bedrock of any understanding of justice. That Alex Salmond has found himself in this situation cannot but be seen as a terrible blot on the record of the SNP. If it lacks the moral certainty to defend this central principle of fairness for someone who has served and led it for so long and through so much, how can we depend on it to defend anyone else? This is deeply regrettable.
Sexual harassment and misconduct are extremely serious crimes, but there are as yet – as far as we can know at this time – only three people who know the veracity of these accusations or their lack thereof, and so it is absolutely imperative that they be investigated and tried in due process. Naturally, if Alex Salmond is found guilty – a leader for whom, I confess, I have so much love and admiration – many, including myself, will feel deeply disappointed. But the truth is that we do not know the facts – and neither does Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP.
Alex Salmond resigns from SNP. Well, there's a thing I didn't expect to tweet.—
Wings Over Botland (@WingsScotland) August 29, 2018
Pressuring people to resign on the back of accusations, as has happened before in the SNP, is an extremely short-sighted and unjust mode of operation. Essentially, this puts the reputation of the organisation before the needs of people – and this is something I happen to know something about, what, with the ongoing clerical abuse scandal here in Ireland and all. We can understand the impulse, as Mr Salmond shared on YouTube, to cut off any potential routes for political attack, and on the face of it this sounds reasonable. But it lacks integrity, and – on balance – integrity speaks more to people’s sense of goodness and common decency than almost any amount of propagandistic political capitalisation. Further, by expelling as yet innocent people or forcing their resignation wrongly adds to the general suspicion of guilt. More than this; from a political point of view, such a fundamentally unjust approach to people – members of the party – creates unnecessary and often powerful internal divisions, which in the long run will only serve to undermine greater political objectives.
This said, it would be unwise now to stir up a falling out with the SNP or add to any tensions between the party and the wider independence movement. I am fully committed to the belief that the SNP is the only political vehicle of the movement worth its salt. So, we have to accept that what has happened has happened, and that, at least on this occasion, it was Mr Salmond’s own decision to tender his resignation. We must find some measure of solace in that.
We must also commend Alex Salmond on the grace with which he resigned. He appealed to the membership not to follow him, saying that he would – at the soonest opportunity after he has cleared his name – reapply for membership. In doing this he has put the cause of independence and the unity of the party and movement before his own personal feelings of anger and humiliation – which he must no doubt be feeling. In expressing his love for the SNP and the independence movement he said that they have been the defining commitment of his life, and that he is able to say this tonight with such poise leads me at any rate to trust he is telling the truth. Independence has been the life work of this man and we owe it to him to make sure he has a fair hearing and gets the justice he so rightly deserves.
Alex Salmond crowdfunding his court challenge of the SNP Government is a disgrace. Saying it’s about independence i… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…—
Jackie Baillie (@jackiebmsp) August 29, 2018
But justice costs money – another grave injustice we must face up to in an independent Scotland – or, better, now! Mr Salmond has launched a crowdfunder for the staggering sum of £50,000 to support his Judicial Review in the Court of Session. Already – at the time of writing – with the help of over two-thousand contributors he has reached £54,749, almost five grand more than he asked. £50,000 is a prohibitive amount of money for justice even for a former First Minister. This too is a scathing indictment of the current state of Scotland. I’m far from an expert on legal costs, but given that he has phrased this campaign “Help support the costs…,” I am assuming he is expecting to foot the bill for the remainder – whatever that might be.
The good news on this score is, however, that the page will be accepting donations for the next 27 days. I’m thinking that with a small donation from everyone in Scotland who feels they owe Alex Salmond at least a pound, we can more than double the amount he has asked for. Now, wouldn’t that just send a message to the architects of the expulsion or resignation until proven innocent system and all those in the unionist press who are salivating at the mouth in joyous expectation of his total political destruction? It’s for this reason I will be donating.
People who've been vociferously demanding that Alex Salmond resign are now furious that he has. Also much faux ind… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…—
Iain Macwhirter (@iainmacwhirter) August 29, 2018
We have to be better than this, we have to do better than this. As I have said, and I will say again, I don’t know whether or not Mr Salmond is guilty of what he has been accused. But that is completely unimportant. In this political climate – in Scotland and around the world – false accusations, as Alex Massie so aptly demonstrated in his puerile “whatever happens, it’s over for Salmond” article in The Times, have become an expedient political weapon with which to damage and destroy political opponents. What, with fake news and fabricated allegations, have we become? This is fast eating away at the fabric of our democracy, and if we allow the British establishment to continue calling the shots when it comes to the corrosion of democracy in Scotland we can kiss goodbye right now to the idea of another independence referendum.
Salmond puts Scottish Independence First