FIELD Marshal Montgomery once stated that “war is concerned with the basic essentials of life” and that “conflict and cruelty can satisfy demands of easy profit”. In political warfare you can also have conflict, cruelty, and easy profit.

People do not give up political power willingly, and that invariably means conflict and we know the lengths people will go to ensure that any opposition within their own party is removed from the political scene. Character assassination is one that is commonly used.

Recently, we witnessed Tory corruption when Boris Johnson ordered his MPs to cast their votes to change Westminster Parliament rules to save a supportive Tory colleague. On the other hand, our First Minister, with help from her political wrecking balls, also changed rules at the last minute in an effort to remove Joanna Cherry and Alex Salmond, whom the FM most certainly saw as a threat to her hold on power.

There are no rules. It is about retaining power. We have local elections in a few months and unsurprisingly the new SNP have rolled out some of their more extreme supporters to organise an independence conference in Aberdeen which will give some speakers an opportunity to regurgitate some of the tyrannical views they hold on the Alba Party. They will also make some money towards election funds and, of course, be in a position to discuss independence, in case anyone thinks that they have taken it off the agenda.

I joined the SNP at 16 for one reason, Scottish independence. At that time everything revolved around independence. Improving the democratic process within the SNP was ongoing. Now people are joining the SNP for various reasons: many see it as a career opportunity or a way to indoctrinate people into changing the way they think and behave, while others genuinely enjoy being elected representatives. There is nothing wrong with the latter view, just so long as those elected representatives realise why they were elected and why the party came into existence in the first place. That should be their priority.

Not many political leaders become more important than the party they lead, but the FM has achieved that accolade by refusing to delegate or allow debate within the SNP or even to entertain other independence supporters who hold an alternative opinion on the way forward. She is preoccupied by promoting herself at every opportunity, to the elation of her support. That has enabled the FM to become the priority rather than independence. The idea that everyone should work together sounds good but who is stopping it? We know the answer.

Independence itself should have been enough for everyone to close ranks. As Thomas Carlyle said: “Talk that does not end in any kind of action is better suppressed altogether.” The bile that is dished out by the close associates of the FM, without any condemnation from those who are in a position to act as mediators, is quite reprehensible. There is simply no leadership. John Nicholson MP gave it a try. He rightly chastised the Westminster Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries for referring to a journalist as “a public school posh boy f***wit”. In response she claimed that John Nicholson had sent her a number of tweets. “None of it offensive,” he responded innocently. He had conveniently forgotten that he sat on his hands and kept his mouth closed as others closer to home were being abused, including his SNP colleague Joanna Cherry MP.

Now we have silence from the SNP on the most awful tweet

from Kirsty Blackman MP. She should have been asked to

resign by any standard of integrity, failing which she

should have been sacked. Unless we get rid of the bile emanating from the SNP, or reduce the numbers of people who are providing and encouraging such behaviours, it will not matter when we hold a referendum.

Bill Clark

Fort William