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Galloway: The epic battle within the Scottish Nationalist movement will leave Sturgeon flapping on the deck of a sinking ship

Few inner-party conflicts have been as bitter as the one we’re currently seeing in the SNP. But D-Day is coming for Nicola Sturgeon, as Alex Salmond, having been acquitted of serious sexual charges, finally has his say next week.

Full disclosure: I have known Alex Salmond for well over 30 years. I sat in the British parliament with him for decades, liked and admired him. I fundamentally disagree with the essentially shared project of both him and Nicola Sturgeon to partition the small island of Britain along an imaginary line between Scotland and England. I don’t believe in partition. Anywhere.

Salmond said to me shortly before his trial at the High Court in Edinburgh on serious charges of a sexual nature, “We’ve all known inner-party struggles before, but not conflicts where one side is seeking to put its opponents in prison.”

Had Salmond been convicted – he was acquitted on all charges by a jury, the majority of whom were women – he might very well have died behind bars, given his age.

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Such a monstrous outcome was avoided by the good sense of a jury, but it was not for the want of trying by the faction of the Scottish National Party led by the current First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

I never had any doubt of Salmond’s innocence, because I knew him so well, and because I had seen exactly the same playbook used to attempt the annihilation of Julian Assange. In today’s world, the fastest way to discredit a radical figure is not to accuse them of shoplifting or even bank robbery, but as Salmond was, to claim he put his hand on a woman’s fully clothed hip whilst dancing.

Many years later her trauma at the event can be weaponised effectively. If not sent to jail, the perpetrator can at least then be sent to the gulag of political incorrectness.

But his enemies underestimated Salmond, a formidable political figure who towered above his opponents. He was determined to expose one salient truth, a truth which dare not speak its name. And it is this: the answer to the question “why would so many women come forward with the same sexual accusations if they weren’t true?” is “that depends on who the women are.”

To give an entirely hypothetical example: If one faction in an inner-party struggle was seeking the destruction of another and jointly accused the leader of the enemy faction of having sexually assaulted them, that would not make the accusation automatically untrue. But it would certainly raise more than one eyebrow of suspicion as to the motive.

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In the real world, the accusers – disbelieved by the court – are guaranteed life-long anonymity, unlike Salmond, an innocent man. And so, no one will ever know either their identities or their relationship to one another, and thus will be quite unable to fathom how all these women could be disbelieved by a court in which both the judge and the majority of the jury were women.

But the conduct of the Sturgeon inquiry in the Scottish Parliament has been such that even the dogs in the street are beginning to get the idea.

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We’ve seen month after month of refusal to provide evidence which had been promised without qualification; of seeking to redact and restrict such evidence as did emerge; attempts to gag Salmond; suggestions he’ll be prosecuted if he gives certain evidence; and iron-clad party discipline by the SNP apparatchiks chairing and providing the majority of members (including the SNP gardening section, the Scottish Greens). The whole thing has been left stinking like a mountain of manure.

The London-based media have begun not just to report on the farrago, but to take legal actions in the courts to force disclosure of material which is clearly in the public interest. The Scottish media, particularly the ironically named British Broadcasting Corporation, continues to report cats stuck up trees instead of the dramatic events unfolding in courts and committees right outside their doors. But the truth will out. And next week.

Alex Salmond, freed at last from the shackles which have bound him, will appear before the inquiry next week. It is Defcon 1. The ides of March have come early for Nicola Sturgeon. Caesar has unexpectedly risen, and is advancing across the senate floor towards Brutus. And that is a dagger you see before him.

The whole story is like a jumble of Shakespeare. And Lady MacBeth is done for. It has been a very Scottish Nationalist play.

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