Years back, before we all fell out over the referendum, there used to be an event a couple of times a year called a “Twinner”. This was an evening where Scottish political bloggers of different persuasions would meet up for a meal and a drink (alright possibly more than one drink).
It was always a good night. A fair bit of good humoured political debate, a sharing of political intelligence and a lot of outright gossip.
In that context, back in 2012, a well connected Nat told me Alex Salmond was a groper. This was complete news to me. I had always thought of him as a man with a one track mind. But that was not the one track. I would have been as equally surprised if one of the Tories had confided that Ruth Davidson was a Satanist.
Anyway, some months later I was in exclusively Labour company when I thought to pass this juicy tit bit on to someone who had been very close to Jack McConnell’s Administration. Her reply surprised me. “Everybody knows that”.
Now, when you look back at the immediate aftermath of the infamous Daily Record leak that, following a previously secret Scottish Government investigation process, Salmond was to be referred to the Police, the interesting thing is that, within the Scottish political bubble: politicians; their staff and numerous Scottish political journalists, while many were shocked matters had reached that degree of seriousness, no-one was entirely surprised.
And against that background let’s look at what we know today from what has come out as a result of the Holyrood Committee of Inquiry.
We know that the decision to allow retrospective complaints against former Ministers was a political rather than civil service decision.
We know that it was not retrospective against former civil servants as their Unions would never have agreed to that.
We know that it was however made retrospective in relation to former Ministers without consulting them or even informing them!
We know it was put in place with unprecedented speed.
We know that this retrospectivity decision happened literally the same week as Sturgeon says she first learnt of the Edinburgh Airport allegations, despite them relating to events some ten years before and acted upon, of sorts, by Angus Robertson at that time.
We know that Sturgeon's husband is Chief Executive of the SNP and it is literally his job to know what's going on within the Party yet, if he is to be believed, he not know anything about the rumours about Salmond as anything other than (I rely on recollection here but I think this is right) "tittle tattle" and even then tittle tattle he saw no reason to pass on to his wife, even as tittle tattle.
We know that the woman who alleged Salmond had attempted to rape her in Bute House told the senior SNP official Ian McCann of her alleged experience at the time (pre the 2014 referendum) and yet we are expected to believe he did not tell Mr Murrell, his boss, or, if he did, Mr Murrell not tell his wife.
We know that the civil servant who complained (at the time, again prior to the referendum) of what gave rise to the assault with intent to rape charge received an apology, again at the time, from Mr Salmond.
We know that others were concerned as to the impact on the Yes campaign if her complaint became public.
And today we also know something else. The two civil servants who made the original complaints gave evidence, quite properly behind closed doors, to the Holyrood Committee on Monday past. They said, and here I quote from the Sunday Times, that (again in 2013/14) concerns about Mr Salmond’s behaviour were an open secret.
Yet we are expected to believe all of this happened without the deputy leader of the SNP and Deputy First Minister, having the faintest sniff of anything. Despite me (me!!!) having been told of it in an Edinburgh Pub years before. Until, apparently, she learned of the Edinburgh Airport incident in November 2017 and, despite complete previous ignorance of the above other matters, Sturgeon felt this, which would by her account have been wholly out of character behaviour by Mr Salmond, and ten years before in to the bargain, might nonetheless be something she should be worrying about.
I have said nothing above which is not in the unchallenged public domain.
It is, and I use this word advisedly, inconceivable that the only person in Scottish politics who did not anticipate that a retrospective process of investigating sexual misconduct by Ministers would probably ensnare Alex Salmond was Nicola Sturgeon. Yet she went ahead anyway. That actually might be to her credit, if she would only admit it. But she can’t. Not because she ever approved of it but because, in pursuit of a bigger prize, she turned a blind eye to it at the time.
As did an awful lot of other people. Nationalism causes you to lose all moral compass. And, having lost it, you can’t get it back.
Those who fly with the Craws will ultimately get shot with the Craws. Sturgeon will survive next week because a lot of other people who similarly lost their moral compass will rally round. But if she survives May 6th Scotland will no longer continue to be the Country I believe it still is..