The documentation about the botched investigation into him that Alex Salmond wanted to be put in the public domain has now been released, Alex believes that it proves there was a conspiracy against him orchestrated by senior figures in the SNP who are close to Nicola Sturgeon. The First Minister is due to put her side of the story to the Holyrood Committee examining the affair next week. She strongly denies that there was any conspiracy aiming to, in the words of some of Alex’s online supporters, “put an innocent man in jail.”
Already some of Alex Salmond’s supporters are taking to social media to declare that because of the treatment of the former first Minister they will not be voting SNP in the May elections. I believe that this is premature, and an attempt to prejudge what Alex would himself advise his supporters to do. Alex Salmond has not yet made any public statement about how he would prefer his supporters to vote in May, and until such time as he does I believe that his supporters should err on the side of caution and not do anything which may prove prejudicial to the cause and the party to which Alex Salmond has devoted his political career.
This means, that until such time as Alex Salmond himself says something to the contrary, we must operate on the assumption that he would want his supporters to vote SNP in May. Alex Salmond loves the SNP, his beef is with the party’s current leader and those close to her, not with the party as a whole. Alex Salmond knows that the SNP is a whole lot bigger than him, and a whole lot bigger than Nicola Sturgeon. He does not want to bring the entire SNP down just before a crucial election which could prove to hold the key to independence because he has a dispute with its current leader, all the more so because this would be severely prejudicial to any hopes he might harbour of returning to a senior role within the party should the present leadership stand down. You don’t burn down a house that you think you might move into.
Just as Alex Salmond understands that the SNP is bigger than him and bigger than Nicola Sturgeon, he also understands that the cause of independence is bigger than all three. He would not want his supporters to do anything which might damage Scotland’s prospects of independence and play into the hands of the British nationalists. Unlike some of his more strident supporters on social media, Alex Salmond is an expert political strategist and tactician. He instinctively understands the power of a political narrative and knows that if the SNP fail to do well in May the dominant political narrative will be that Scotland doesn’t want independence, and the current momentum will be lost. If his supporters turn their backs on the SNP in the mistaken belief that they are supporting him, there is a very real risk that he will go down in history not as the godfather of Scottish independence, but as the man who thwarted it. That is most certainly not what he wants.
So if you do consider yourself a supporter of Alex Salmond, at least do the man the courtesy of speaking for himself before you take to social media and announce in an outrage that you are not going to vote SNP. Because if the time comes when Alex Salmond advises his supporters not to vote SNP 1 and 2 in May, it will only be because he has an alternative plan which will further the cause of independence and which won’t play into the hands of the Tories or the other British nationalist parties. Allow him to speak for himself, and don’t let your anger and outrage speak for him. I have no doubt that he will make his views clear soon enough. Until he does don’t pre-empt him and in your anger risk damaging Alex Salmond’s interests and those of Scottish independence.
Please note that there will not be a blog post tomorrow as I have to travel to Glasgow for a hospital appointment.
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