Gone Girl

Former first minister of Scotland, the disappointing Nicola Sturgeon MSP

Nicola Sturgeon has left the SNP in a terrible shambles. (See the essay “The SNP Cannibals“.) ALBA MP Kenny MacAskill has a few words to say on that flight to freedom she has denied Scots.


By Kenny MacAskill MP

It wasn’t the going but the speed which was the surprise. There was no way that Nicola Sturgeon was going to lead the SNP into the next election as the Gender Recognition issue was the least of her worries.

“Judge me on education” she said, and that would be the first and by no means the hardest of questions she’d have to answer. A Westminster election it maybe, but the focus on the domestic Scottish agenda would be relentless. She was always going to bail before then.

Similarly, the “de facto referendum” conjured up as a fall back for the cardinal folly of a self-inflicted defeat in the Supreme Court’s unraveling by the day. Whether binned entirely or just refined to avoid an outright repudiation, the coming SNP conference will decide. But it again exposed a lack of strategy and the running out of road for the cans she’d been kicking relentlessly on.

Of course, she’s a political debater and government communicator par excellence. You can’t win that many elections or survive in office without being fleet of foot and highly capable. Of that there’s no doubt. Her briefings during Covid were clear and reassuring for many, even if there’s legitimate questions as to why she had to do all of them. Her presence was dignified and calm in comparison to the fraudulence and buffoonery of the then Prime Minister. Some perceptions will remain, and she’s earned them.

Baby boxes and baby footsteps

But what future inquiries though will make on care homes and other aspects time will tell. That might well be a microcosm of a wider analysis of her tenure. Baby boxes and other welcome but limited announcements will be superseded by a deeper analysis on both the big ticket items in government on health, the economy and education along with her strategy for independence. A great short-term tactician but a very poor long-term strategist.

History though will not be kind to Nicola Sturgeon. As a reflection and assessment begins a deeper analysis will replace the photo shot or sound bite. That’ll change the narrative, and much will be harsh.

She may claim that it’s because it’s history not herstory. But it’ll be nothing to do with misogyny but because too often it was just Her Story. From the rock star meetings at the beginning where her husband and Party Chief Executive acted as promoter, through the ever-increasing tightening of control, to the situation she’s bequeathed of a centralized party and a government of yes people, if not sycophants.

That there’s no agreed successor’s also a sign of failure. Part of leadership’s to have a plan for if you go under a bus, not just when you step down. But it was all about her and nothing else could be countenanced. Ironically, that may now be an opportunity. As her inner circle scramble to rally round Humza Yousaff, others from outwith the magic circle can speak to the wider party.

That her husband still remains in senior party office is incredulous, but he’ll be gone soon and what might be exposed will further tarnish. Talented and hugely able but devoid of vision and fearful of opposition, she could and should have achieved so much more.

What’s Left?

The SNP Leadership contest has opened up the debate on what’s “Left”? Kate Forbes and Ash Regan have been attacked for their views on the transgender debate and the former on her views on same sex marriage and abortion. They’re important issues but they’re conscience issues rather than the defining issues for being a radical or even a socialist.

Some spouting the bile against these two ladies have been orchestrating a climate of fear within the SNP. Joining in the clamour are the Greens who want a veto on who can lead the SNP and become First Minister. Given the mess they’ve caused it’s risible.

But the idea that these critics speak from of for the left’s wrong. As Jimmy Reid once commented Scottish socialism’s history’s always had more to do with “morality” than “Marxism”. In the early days an archetypal Scottish radical was defined as a “dissenting weaver”. Their English or Welsh colleague a “methodist” one. That changed as the industrial revolution took over and shipyards and mines became the powerhouse for socialism, as well as the economy.

But the values of many of the leaders never changed. Those dissenting radicals from Thomas Muir’s day, many of when were in secessionist churches, became the Red Clydesiders. Of the latter, two Campbell Stephen and James Barr were United Free Ministers. David Kirkwood was an elder in that Kirk, just as John Wheatley and so many other were pillars of the Catholic Church. In England the doyen of fledgling socialism was Tom Mann who at one stage considered another calling. Temperance was another issue to the fore, as was espoused by Willie Gallagher before he became a communist and a teetotaler he remained.

Societal changes have come about and are welcome. No one’s suggesting proscribing same sex marriage or outlawing abortion. But holding personal views on them’s perfectly legitimate in a democracy. Similarly, arguing for sex-based rights isn’t a right-wing narrative but supportive of long held women’s rights.

Scottish radicalism was founded upon tackling land ownership, addressing poverty and reducing income inequality. That’s what Scotland needs and want’s not the PC brigade who espouse their social agenda, berate those who aren’t equally zealot or simply disagree with them on conscience grounds, yet ignore class and income inequality.

NOTE This article was first publ;ished in the Scotsman.


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12 Responses to Gone Girl

  1. arthor49 says:

    The 2014 referendum was only granted because the polls were showing at most 30% in favour of an independent Scotland and it scared them witless when a few days before the vote 2 polls showed a majority in favour.

    As we all know, that resulted in the infamous set of lies termed “The Vow” when the 3 unionist leaders combined and rushed north to promise all sorts of goodies to Scotland it we would please, please vote No!

    When the result came, disappointing as it was, and we now know the reasons why, Alex Salmond handed over an SNP that was vibrant and ready for further battle to achieve what is after all, their main Aim according to their Constitution.

    From being handed a golden opportunity and a bright future for Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon leaves her successor a poisoned well, with an SNP that looks nothing like it did just over 8 years ago. A fraction of the membership survives and if recent actions are any indication, a party in severe financial trouble.

    Only one of the 3 candidates to replace the FM has any chance of resurrecting what is left of the SNP to restore a semblance of credibility with the Yes Movement and more importantly an effective vehicle for independence. However, even if elected, it may be too late to save what was once an exemplar of democracy within a political party.

    Unity is the only way forward to achieve what Scotland needs so badly and I hope my fears on that score are ill-founded.

  2. Grouse Beater says:

    Welcome. And yes, for what it’s worth, I see it the same way.

  3. YesToIndy says:

    Sturgeon walked on to that podium smirking and knowing that she was leaving Scotland in a complete mesh and that she had destroyed Alex Salmond good work, her final act of vandalism will be to ensure Humza Yousaf takes over as FM. She spent 8 long years pretending to be FM and wanting Independence, how can any member in the SNP not see that this woman has just betrayed them, is beyond believe.

    I was hoping Humza Yousaf team would be a bit more honest and call themselves, Safe the Union. A bit like the Red Tories changing their name to New Labour and then throwing socialists out of the party.

    Ash Regan has stated what she’ll do in the first 100 days of being in office, what a speech! Here’s what Humza Yousaf will achieve,

    1 He’ll destroy the SNP as a political party
    2 He’ll destroy the case for Independence
    3 He’ll reck the whole Scottish economy

    There has never ever been a person more obviously wrong and least qualified for the FM’s job than Humza Yousaf.

    We have heard for years from the SNP that they are the only vehicle to achieve independence, and now we have two prospective SNP leaders who don’t even try and hide the fact that they have no interest in Scottish Independence and no plan to achieve it. Watch the SNP members pick the wrong person to be their leader, and hence the new FM, when there is a candidate that has a plan and is vocal in her support of Independence and want to immediately start the journey towards it, if elected, and she’s called Ash Regan.

  4. paul19632501 says:

    The FM is hardly a gone girl; from her resignation speech:*

    While I am stepping down from leadership, I am not leaving politics.

    ‘There are many issues I care deeply about and hope to champion in future.**

    The anti-shero in the film was crafty,competent and manipulative while completely crazy.***

    The current FM can only claim three of those attributes.

    With her husband (who neither can even share a wedded name,let alone a resignation) indulging in black box voting for a successor, I see this as similar to an unwanted tenant straining to leave a log in the bog.

    * worth reading in full, especially the bit where here heels sink into “Angus’s” grave.
    **Staying out of jail
    ***Generally admire david fincher, but it was all pretty silly.

  5. Grouse Beater says:

    In days to come, I think you’ll find Nicola Sturgeon would have been better hiding abroad. Lady Mone knows how to do it.

  6. duncanio says:

    Kenny MacAskill is on the money (once more).

    “She may claim that it’s because it’s history not herstory. But it’ll be nothing to do with misogyny but because too often it was just Her Story. ”

    Now that I like.

    She’s left ” a government of yes people” just not YES people.

    In time she’ll be recalled as less Fingertip Feminist, more Queer Queen.

  7. alfbaird says:

    Independence is ‘radical’, but postcolonial theory tells us that independence is not a matter of left or right, neither is it to do with class. There is a reason why any independence movement depends on the solidarity of the oppressed ethnic group, and why all peoples in self-determination conflict tend to be linguistically divided.

    To understand the need for national liberation we need to understand the nature of our oppression. In this respect we must first undertake ‘a reasoned study of colonial society’.


  8. arthor49 says:

    Having bought and read Alf’s book – Doun-Hauden it puts into context the colonisation of Scotland and it is not much different from how the British State colonised and operated within all of its “Empire”.

    It is a long read but very worthwhile to anyone seeking information on how and why Scotland became England’s nearest and very profitable colony. It also illustrates how history is repeating itself and that the plunder of colonialism continues today in Scotland’s current situation.

    As it is also written in sections, I have found it to be a very helpful form of reference when issues are being discussed that may involve our colonial status.

  9. Grouse Beater says:

    I’m having my copy bound in leather – the book’s a standard guide. Paperbacks break, lose pages and fox.

  10. Grouse Beater says:

    Agreed, Alfred, but I’d prefer you sent people to my essay pages where your invaluable dissertation is republished in chapters! 🙂

  11. alfbaird says:

    Ma aefauld apologeese, an yer deid richt, Gareth. Here is the link:


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