Party in dispute

Three resignations leave SNP in turmoil

Joanna Cherry

Joanna Cherry: unable to fulfil the mandate (pic: Terry Murden)

Further turmoil has engulfed the SNP following a third high profile resignation.

Joanna Cherry, the MP who was sacked in February from her front bench role in the party’s Westminster group, announced she had quit the NEC, the party’s ruling body.

Ms Cherry, who has clashed with the party leadership over a number of issues including its plan for how to achieve a second independence referendum, said on Twitter: “I’ve resigned from the NEC of @theSNP.

“A number of factors have prevented me from fulfilling the mandate party members gave me to improve transparency & scrutiny & to uphold the party’s constitution. I won’t be making any further comment at this stage.”

Her announcement came after it emerged a senior figure had quit his post after claiming the ‘best job offer had turned out to be the worst job ever’.

Douglas Chapman and Marco Biagi

Former Scottish Government minister Marco Biagi last week resigned from his role heading up the party’s independence task force and at the weekend used social media to criticise the job and the man who now occupies his former seat at Holyrood.

He had announced his decision to quit on Facebook ahead of party treasurer Douglas Chapman resigning in circumstances that are yet to be fully explained. Mr Chapman said he was not given enough information to do the job.

Both resignations came amid speculation surrounding a possible police probe into the party’s finances. There was no suggestion that either Mr Biagi or Mr Chapman are involved.

Mr Biagi had declared that he would “look forward to helping again in future”, but the former Local Government and Community minister later said in his social media post that he had seen “the best job offer I’ve ever had turn out to be worst job I’ve ever had and publicly quit it”.

He noted that his former constituency of Edinburgh Central had decided they would “rather have a pompous impressionable idiot than me”. This is seen to be a reference to Angus Robertson, who was selected as the Holyrood candidate for the area ahead of the election.

Mr Robertson told The Herald that he did not want to comment on the personal attacks, describing them as disappointing.

Meanwhile, Mr Chapman, the MP for Dunfermline and West Fife, announced he had resigned as national treasurer of the party on Saturday evening, having taken the post last year.

He also resorted to social media, using Twitter to refer to a lack of support or information despite a “resounding mandate” to introduce more transparency into the party’s finances.

His decision to stand down as Treasurer is thought to be linked to concerns raised over the use of funds ringfenced for a second independence referendum.

When asked about these issues at the weekend, Deputy first minister John Swinney denied claims that police were investigating the whereabouts of £600,000 raised by SNP activists.

He said he did not understand what had prompted Mr Chapman’s actions.

Police Scotland said a complaint was being assessed but there was currently no investigation into the party’s finances.

Responding to Joanna Cherry’s resignation from the SNP NEC, Shadow Scotland Secretary Ian Murray, said: “Losing one member of your National Executive is careless. Losing three members of your Finance Committee, your Treasurer and a member of your National Executive probably indicates a party in crisis.

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“The SNP have long been gripped by a kind of centralism and secrecy that would make Lenin blush.

“From the failure to provide basic answers on what an independent Scotland would use as a currency, to the radio silence on what is going on in the party’s bank account – the people of Scotland deserve answers now.” 

Earlier, Scottish Labour’s deputy leader Jackie Baillie said: “Douglas Chapman’s extraordinary resignation makes it essential that the SNP are open about the growing number of questions about their finances.”

She noted that earlier this year three members of the SNP’s finance and audit committee resigned.

“There are clearly issues that need to be looked at within the secretive inner workings and inner circle that runs the SNP.

“Nicola Sturgeon must agree to open the party’s books to public scrutiny so investigators can get to the bottom of this mess.”

The Scottish Conservatives’ chief whip Stephen Kerr said Mr Chapman’s departure “speaks volumes” and that there were “obvious questions the leadership have yet to answer for members and even their own politicians.”

See also

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