IN the places where Scottish Tory Party chiefs gather, they’ll be raising a few glasses to the members of the SNP’s National Executive Committee this weekend. The removal of Jackson Carlaw as Tory leader after a brief and inglorious tenure may have been deemed necessary but they are now officially in a state of some dishevelment.

Yet, whatever dark waters rage beneath the Tories they are as nothing when compared with the open sewer running through the SNP. The elaborate stitch-up, hatched by the SNP NEC, to prevent Joanna Cherry from entering Holyrood, will now presage a prolonged and bitter period of civil strife within the party.

The NEC’s new policy on dual mandates means that if Cherry was selected as the candidate for Edinburgh Central she’d have to quit as an MP, shut down her office and make her staff redundant.

Cherry said she wasn’t willing to do that and that a “fair and open contest” is now impossible.

READ MORE: Cherry won't be seeking Edinburgh Central nomination after party change rules

Effectively, if you do not have sufficient personal means or a healthy private income, the SNP don’t want you at Holyrood. To borrow from the old socialist song The Red Flag: “The working class can kiss my arse; I’ve got the foreman’s job.”

If only it were as simple as this. Let’s be honest here: this wouldn’t have happened if it had been Angus Robertson seeking to migrate from Westminster to Holyrood.

The move to take down Cherry, one of Westminster’s most formidable politicians, is the culmination of a two-year vendetta against her that, at its very worst, caused Police Scotland to offer her 24-hour protection during the 2017 Westminster election.

The fingerprints of the SNP leadership are all over this medieval witch-hunt

She has been subject to widespread abuse of a sexually threatening nature led by several SNP party members known to the leadership and who enjoy intimate connections with colleagues of Cherry.

This is what happens to any party member who dares to question some of the proposals in the Scottish Government’s Gender Recognition Act. Soon, they will come for Joan McAlpine, another very able feminist SNP politician. Meanwhile James Dornan’s reward for more than a decade of loyal party work on Glasgow’s south side is to learn that he too doesn’t fit the new orthodoxy.

A purge is currently being orchestrated against those who haven’t been through the SNP’s re-conditioning camps. The cause of Scottish independence is now no longer paramount. Instead, by means of a stealthy coup d’etat, the party is now hitched to an illiberal and narrow woke dogma.

READ MORE: James Dornan MSP blocked from Holyrood by SNP NEC

The fingerprints of the SNP leadership are all over this medieval witch-hunt. The damage will be grievous.

This is what will now happen. An anti-Sturgeon/Murrell coalition is now building within the party and the move against Cherry has galvanised it. This includes several who are genuinely concerned that no long-term strategy exists to deliver independence and that this is all about maintaining the Sturgeon/Murrell power dynamic for as long as possible.

It’s also inevitable that several local candidates will now come forward to stop Angus Robertson getting the Edinburgh Central nomination. The new Independence for Scotland Party will also be the recipient of SNP refugees whose faith and ethics will not permit them to vote for an insidious social and cultural agenda. For them, it has always been country before party; for the current leadership it looks increasingly like party before country.

At a time when support for independence is at an all-time high, the SNP are handing Scotland to the Unionists on a plate.