THERE’S a reason why the usual suspects in the SNP’s career wing are in denial about how much damage they’ve inflicted on the party and the cause of independence.

For almost a decade they’ve enjoyed all the benefits that come with their exalted status: the swollen salaries and expenses; the enhanced status in the community; the soft furnishings and cosy offices in Holyrood and Westminster.

And all of it far above what their abilities could have commanded in the real world.

It would be unreasonable to expect them now to admit that all of it was built on a grand deception.

They must have known that the SNP party machine was out of control and that it had now become a self-serving organism impervious to the preferences of those whom it had been created to serve: the ordinary party members and the citizens of Scotland beyond.

Instead, like Hal, the super-computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey, it had developed its own intelligence and self-awareness and become a lethally hostile entity: “This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardise it.”

Its own survival became the imperative. It existed merely to exist.

A few brave and prophetic souls had tried to warn us what was really happening inside the party and how much its claims to be a progressive and dynamic force for good were a cruel deception created for the sole purpose of maintaining power for its own sake.

The party machine was able to command the less intelligent party functionaries – its drone class – to hunt down the rebels; silence them and force them out.

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We know this now because it has all unravelled in this most chaotic of leadership contests. Opponents of the SNP are keen to suggest that the calibre of all three candidates is somewhat lacking in quality, but the candidates are no better or worse than those in other party leadership contests across the UK in recent political history.

Indeed, if it hadn’t been for the courage and fortitude of Ash Regan and Kate Forbes in questioning the integrity of the contest and seeking the real membership numbers, the wider membership would have been none the wiser about the fictions they were being fed.

We know now that the chief executive of the party and his senior executive team had been concealing the true size of its membership base. And that they had lied to various media outlets – including The National – to maintain the fiction.

And we now know why. The party have lost more than 50,000 members in the last four years. It may take another while to identify the main reasons for this mass exodus.

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For now, we can only guess. The bullying and intimidation of feminists within the party was driving out many female members.

It was also becoming apparent to others that the party was taking them for a ride over its commitment to independence. The social media conduct of the party’s thug element was also becoming problematic.

And latterly, the embarrassingly low calibre of the two Scottish Greens who had been granted ministerial posts was becoming all too evident.

How could you begin to take the cause of independence seriously when you know that one of them was already regarded as a joke figure within her own party?

We now also know that Nicola Sturgeon, while claiming neutrality in the leadership contest had in fact permitted her most senior adviser to assist with Humza Yousaf’s campaign.


The fact that this was being done in secret tells us two things – that they knew it was inappropriate and unfair and that they were contemptuous of their own membership.

As was the decision of John Swinney, the party’s deputy leader, to come out in support of Yousaf. He too ought to have been above such naked partisanship.

But then when the soon-to-be-departed Sturgeon chooses to appear on Loose Women to pretend that there’s nothing to see here and that we’re all over-stating the crisis now engulfing the party you know what she really thinks of Scotland and her own fellow members.

I was half-expecting her to make a guest appearance on Teletubbies during her tour of England media houses.

Further, her declaration that the lying, deception, bad faith and mafia-like tendencies of the party management – now revealed for the rest of the world to see – are mere growing pains suggested outright contempt. As was her insistence that the GRR reforms were in step with the views of the Scottish public.

This, as all opinion polls have shown, is another falsehood.

Mike Russell, the new acting chief executive and so-called father of the movement, has also let himself down. He would have us believe that those being justifiably critical of the party machine are all “enemies”.

Russell has completely lost the plot here. He’s basically accusing many of the people who have provided him with his exalted status and lifestyle of treachery.

The National: One of the three will be the next leader of the partyOne of the three will be the next leader of the party (Image: PA)

How bloody dare he.

Such arrogance, like that of his boss, is also born of contempt for the ordinary members. It fails to recognise the profound sense of despair and hurt that many ordinary members and activists are currently experiencing about what lies beneath the party to whom they have given their lives.

Many of them had also been troubled by the red flags appearing all over this party in the last few years. But they trusted Sturgeon and Russell and Murrell and all the rest of them as they blamed the Unionist press and the “enemies” of the SNP for disseminating lies.

Their trust has been betrayed in recent weeks in the most brutal way imaginable.

Whoever wins this contest will be faced with the massive task of rebuilding that trust before they can even think about going to the rest of the country cap in hand.

Only a candidate who understands this and is prepared to act on it will have a chance of healing this party and expunging the sickness that lies at its heart.

That person will never be Humza Yousaf.

He is part of the machinery and the coterie of self-entitled opportunists who have brought this party to its knees. His message to the members, issued yesterday, was dripping with that entitlement and carried an infantile threat – that the two women who oppose him will never have full party support if either of them wins this contest.

What he really means is that the careerists and fakes who have all flocked to him won’t accept Kate Forbes or Ash Regan.

This in itself is a good reason to vote for either of them.