AT the weekend it was encouraging to hear Ian Blackford speak about the need for party unity and the dangers of internal arguments being a turn-off for many voters and supporters.

On Tuesday morning Michelle Thomson gave an outstanding interview on Radio Scotland which epitomised party unity. In at least three different ways, Gary Robertson tried to lead Michelle into saying that there could be a re-run of the leadership contest. Three times he was rebuffed with a clear articulate support for the new FM, the rules and result of the contest.

Throughout the interview, issues on the Cabinet, Section 35 and transparency were batted away with clarity and conviction. It was also clear that the solidarity shown by Michelle and by Kate Forbes is genuine and worthy of praise.

READ MORE: Ian Blackford warns of electoral challenges if SNP fail to unite

The new First Minister now has the opportunity to take the party forward and it is incumbent on all SNP members to support him, give him a chance and rebuild the confidence and trust of the Scottish people. The FM should start by dusting down the governance review of August 2021 and allow our Deputy Leader, Keith Brown, full rein to implement the recommendations of the final report. If this had happened immediately in 2021, many of the problems that exist today would have been analysed properly and remedied. Even more importantly, the members, branches and constituency associations would feel they were being listened to and that the SNP was truly a grassroots party.

The majority of the Scottish people want the Scottish National Party to succeed and deliver independence.

Gordon Ferrie

I VERY much welcome the statement by our new First Minister, Humza Yousaf MSP, that Peter Murrell is “innocent until proven guilty”, both as an established expression of natural justice but particularly as that is a radical departure of how internal SNP disciplinary procedures have worked over the last decade.

Mr Yousaf has said he has tasked the SNP’s National Executive Committee with a governance review, and as part of that it is imperative the national secretary reviews how internal discipline is conducted in line with the principles he has underlined. Since 2014 the approach has been to suspend members pending investigation, which may seem reasonable from an HR perspective but in the case of elected representatives creates an impression of guilt in the public mind, and at worst trial by media before someone even reaches a disciplinary hearing.

READ MORE: Michael Russell replaced as interim SNP chief amid hunt for Peter Murrell replacement

In the worst of cases over the last decade, SNP representatives – councillors, MSPs or MPs – have also been subject, whilst awaiting a disciplinary hearing, to character assassination via unattributed SNP sources in the media, a repellent practice that must be severely discouraged and rooted out. In my own case I was tried twice for the same offence, something that rarely happens in a court of law, whilst the decision to suspend a sitting SNP Westminster candidate in 2019 actually during a General Election left me speechless.

Whilst my experience as Assistant National Secretary of the SNP from 1992-96 was at a far different time, with a far smaller party, the approach taken then was for the national secretary and/or the national organiser to personally investigate cases. Often apologies were offered, and mediation given, and suspensions were the exception to the rule.

The political casualties of the last decade inflicted by SNP high command on its foot soldiers have often been unnecessary and only inflicted to placate the Unionist media. If Mr Yousaf wishes to restore the principles of natural justice within the party, he must be given full support by the membership and I wish him well in that endeavour.

Cllr Andy Doig (Independent)
Renfrewshire Council

REGARDING Kate Forbes’s appeal for members to stay the course (My plea to SNP members after an astonishing few weeks for party, Apr 2), the deal for that and the subsequent renewal of membership must be something like the following: a) a thorough cleansing of the stables, b) a demonstration that the stables have been cleansed, and c) arrangements and personnel put in place to ensure that the stables can never be fouled again. While appreciating that time for this to happen will be required, steps towards this end can and should be put in place urgently.

R Millar

I HAVE just read the latest piece by Kate Forbes. Well done, Kate.

Since reading that piece, three things have occurred to me. First is my own experience of the SNP. My partner and I (both long retired) were scared away the first time we arrived at the “damp, fusty side room of the local village hall”. Eventually we mustered up our courage and were welcomed by the other attendees. Sadly, we’re too old these days to push envelopes through recalcitrant letterboxes.

Next, after being so disappointed that this “grass roots” organisation was clearly going its own way without any outside influence, and without any indication that climate policy was being considered, I left the SNP in order to join the Scottish Greens. We still proudly fly the SNP flag, by the way.

READ MORE: Motorhome 'seized by police' was to be SNP campaign bus

Finally, like Kate, I enjoin every SNP member to continue to support this new leader, and hope that he and his Cabinet will continue to press for a more just Scotland. The Daily Mail this week describes a “stench growing over SNP finances”. They have clearly forgotten how they supported the wretched Tories when they were wringing every penny from we ordinary folk who don’t have offshore tax havens. At least in that respect, we have to rely on independence as our only means of escape from the grubby mess that English politics has become.

Tony Kime