THERE are not many parties in the world that, a couple of months or so before a crucial election, would let their leader and former leader get into a public legal battle likely to lead to the effective political death of one of them. Yet that is what we are seeing in the SNP, in the struggle between Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon as it moves towards a climax this week.
Last Friday, Alex gave a persuasive performance as an honest man wronged. He went through six hours of interrogation by a committee of the Scottish Parliament, all calm and controlled except he had a hacking cough and needed a rest from time to time. The high standard he set will have to be at least matched by Nicola tomorrow if she is to quell all the whispers at Holyrood about her job being on the line.
We are witnessing events that will, for their intrinsic interest and their human dramaJackson said, go down in the history books anyway. It is all the more astounding that they are taking place against the background of an election campaign about to enter its final stagesIn its ongoing investigation. Lawyers rather than politicians may have set the pace, but by tomorrow we should be able to see if this is a good thing for our democracy or not.
Certainly that democracy has been coming under increasing strain as pressure for a rerun of the independence referendum mounts. Nicola does not believe this is really possible at the moment, or indeed desirable without a secure lead in the polls for Yes. Is that there, or is it not? Here is a question on which reasonable men might differ – except there are too few reasonable men embroiled in the argument. An example is in the rise of a clique that has been sounding off like nobody’s business. It consists of Andrew Neil and two of his younger protégés, Fraser Nelson of The Spectator and Iain Martin of The Times. It has given them the chance to pour bile on the Scottish homeland they have left far behind. As you will now learn, they are unlikely to come back. RELATED: Sutton mum speaks on inclusion as autistic son set for charity challenge
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