Party at war
Salmond case weakens SNP support says poll
Former friends now foes: Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon
Former First Minister Alex Salmond will give evidence today to an inquiry into the Scottish government’s handling of harassment claims against him as the civil war in the party appears to be intensifying.
Mr Salmond has accused his successor Nicola Sturgeon of “repeatedly” misleading parliament about her involvement in the row and of breaching the ministerial code.
Ms Sturgeon refutes the claims, saying he is “creating an alternative reality in which the organs of the state…are all part of some wild conspiracy against him for reasons I can’t explain”.
The scandal has broadened to embrace the integrity of the Crown Office which sought to redact Mr Salmond’s evidence to the committee, forcing him to pull out of an earlier scheduled appearance.
Opposition MSPs have accused the SNP government of “a culture of secrecy and cover-up”.
But First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has denied the existence of a conspiracy and is itching to give evidence next week. She is due to appear at the inquiry next Wednesday.
A further twist emerged on Thursday when stand-in Labour leader Jackie Baillie claimed the identity of one of the women making allegations against Mr Salmond was revealed at a meeting with his former chief of staff Geoff Aberdein.
Ms Baillie said it was “an extraordinary breach of confidentiality”. She wanted to know on whose authority the name of the complainer was revealed and claimed there was “something rotten at the core of the SNP”.
Ms Sturgeon replied: “to the best of my knowledge I do not think that happened”.
The scandal appears to be having an impact on voters. An Ipsos Mori opinion poll published on Thursday found that support for the SNP and Sturgeon had fallen.
It suggested that was linked to the Salmond controversy; 21% of SNP voters said it had worsened their opinion of the party, while 73% said it made no difference.
The SNP’s projected vote also fell by six points, as too did support for independence, but the party still enjoys a significant lead with 52% support against 23% for the Tories. Labour trails in third on 15%.
Voter satisfaction in Nicola Sturgeon’s leadership has fallen from a net positive rating of +48 last October to +32 this month.