Former First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond addresses the media outside the Court Of Session in Edinburgh on 8 January.

If the sexual misconduct allegations against Salmond are not proven, his successor will be left helplessly exposed.

Let’s be clear. If Alex Salmond is, as he insists, innocent of the sexual misconduct allegations levelled against him then he deserves every sympathy. He may be a divisive figure, but being accused of crimes you did not commit is an appalling state of affairs.

He was, plainly, within his rights to legally challenge the process used by the Scottish government to investigate the complaints made against him by two female civil servants. This week a court ruled the process had been “procedurally unfair” and “tainted with apparent bias” because the investigating officer had “prior involvement” with the complainants.

If Salmond is guilty, though – and the police continue to investigate the original complaints – then we must arrive at a different conclusion. Given his aggressive public campaign against the accusations and the Scottish government, given the undoubted impact on the women involved, and given the damage he is doing to Nicola Sturgeon and wider SNP unity, his reputation should and will never recover.

Salmond’s combative approach to the situation should surprise no one – he has behaved exactly as we would expect him to. He is a lifelong slugger, a streetfighter who has scrapped his way through decades of top-level politics. There has been no belt below which he would not hit, no insult left unrevenged, no enemy left unconfronted. By placing him in this vulnerable position, the Scottish government guaranteed a mean and messy denouement.

His tactics – and he is good at tactics – have been to obscure the grim nature of the allegations by going after flaws in the process. His crowdfunding of £100,000 to cover his legal fees may leave a bitter taste in the mouth – Salmond is by most people’s standards well-off – but it has been effective. The step seems to have been made for political as much as financial reasons, to show that even amid this crisis he could command the loyalty of independence supporters. And they flocked to him – 4,000 people donated.

His latest tactic, having won his case on a technicality, is to force the resignation of the Scottish government’s permanent secretary, Leslie Evans. Evans drew up new procedures for handling sexual harassment claims shortly before the allegations against Salmond were made early last year.

Salmond and Sturgeon are now at war over Evans’s future. …read more

Source:: New Statesman


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The war between Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon could be catastrophic for the SNP

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