AS this global pandemic insists stubbornly on sticking, around, I find myself trying to be a kinder person. I’ll admit though, that this may be due to a sense of spiritual self-preservation. Being a journalist who’s ripped the arse out of it for much of his career I’m probably in a few at-risk categories. So, you don’t want to be going around offending people or your maker if the Covid-19 phantom has yet to decide if it needs to make you an overdue visit.
And so, I’m avoiding profanities and the temptation to snap back at Twitter’s rockets and roasters. But that’s enough about the SNP’s National Executive Committee.
I was even moved to compassion yesterday when answering an online questionnaire from an insurance firm after updating my cover ,and felt compelled to give them 10 out of 10 in every category. If this helped the company’s agent – a nice lady called Naomi – hold on to her job while corporate Britain is throwing its least well-paid employees overboard then so be it.
I ended with the following statement: “I’m not very good at the detail of these things and the numbers kind of confuse me.
I get easily side-tracked and lost in the process. But Naomi was clear, concise and professional and made this an entirely stress-free
encounter. Go Naomi!” Just to be sociable I added one of those wee hand-clapping emojis.
So when I state that I felt an overwhelming sense of empathy for Margaret Ferrier when she admitted being entirely responsible for the resurgence of Covid-19 across the UK last week, you can put it down to my newly discovered Zen consciousness. I do hope that those hopeful of securing the SNP’s seal of approval to stand for Holyrood
next year know what they’re getting into. The inner sanctum of this party, it seems, is a place entirely without mercy.
Unlike many of those MPs currently stealing a wage by choosing to avoid Westminster during the pandemic Ferrier felt it was her duty to ensure her constituents’ concerns are still heard in the UK’s pre-eminent legislature. I don’t know what possessed her not to self-isolate as soon as she started experiencing signs of Covid-19, but I do know that she joins millions of others who, by accident or design, have also broken government restrictions, including a disproportionate quantum of our political classes.
I know it’s unlikely this opposition backbencher will survive the sanctimonious feeding frenzy around her but I hope she does. Or, at least, I hope that once the SNP’s formal disciplinary process is concluded perhaps her constituents may be inclined to consider her overall service to them in a more favourable light.
And if she does get the opportunity to throw herself on their mercy, I hope they will display more human compassion than has been evident from the SNP leadership and some of her colleagues in the party’s boot-licking wing.
In these circumstances, you expect political opponents to demand heads on a plate and public inquiries. Even so, the intervention of Richard Leonard, the most hopeless political leader in the history of Scottish politics, was contemptible.
This over-promoted charlatan offered to help Nicola Sturgeon in the process of sacking her party colleague. Meanwhile, the new Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross was also spewing contrived contumely. His party still has in its ranks an unnamed MP who is facing multiple allegations of rape and sexual assault.
What you don’t expect is the participation of your own colleagues in the rush to condemn. Ian Blackford lost little time in sticking the boot into a woman who until last week was his hard-working and valued colleague.
For Blackford, whose leadership of the SNP group at Westminster has been (let’s be kind here) unremarkable, Ferrier’s error of judgment deserved the most punitive sanctions available. Not only should she resign immediately, he said, but she should also lose her pension rights. This from a millionaire property magnate about a 60-year-old working-class woman who will probably never work again.
Mhairi Black, flushed from making her annual state-of-the-nation speech at Westminster couldn’t wait to join in either. Writing in this paper at the weekend Black chose also to condemn and informed us that she had originally intended to write about the Internal Market Bill. It was nothing more than sanctimonious posturing.
Ian Blackford, if he had an ounce of leadership capability, ought to be telling Mhairi Black that it’s her job to inform voters about the iniquities of this bill: not to join the firing squad being assembled for her former colleague and whose commitment to her job is something to which we all hope Black herself might one day aspire.
It seems that to criticise and chastise is no longer enough: you must also be seen to be more censorious and furious than everyone else.
In this, outrage becomes a commodity where the need to show how angry you are is the important thing and must over-ride the requirement to seek a just and reasonable outcome.
YOU are left to conclude that Ferrier, not being part of the party’s shadowy Star Chamber, was considered fair game to throw to the wolves. If she had been Derek Mackay and admitted to sending a slew of inappropriate messages to a 16-year-old she would have received immediate counselling and permitted to receive the myriad financial emoluments of Holyrood.
If she had been the CEO of the party and reportedly forced to admit attempting to pressurise Police Scotland in a serious criminal investigation there would have been no question of her standing away from a six-figure salary. You are also left to wonder why, from Nicola Sturgeon down, the party leadership seems curiously eager to fuel the flames of this story. Blackford was still at it this week. Does Margaret Ferrier offer a convenient distraction from the bad smell surrounding Peter Murrell’s deeply questionable involvement in the Alex Salmond affair?
There is widespread concern in the SNP’s Westminster group about the party’s treatment of their colleague, a woman currently ill with Covid-19 and cowering in her home as the tabloids howl and sniff around her garden. But such is the climate of fear inside this party that anyone who dares to speak out about it knows to expect a 2am knock at the door.
Let’s be clear about this. Margaret Ferrier made a serious error of judgment last week before and after being diagnosed with Covid-19 and has apologised unreservedly for it. But the sheer ruthlessness with which the leadership of a party she’s given her life to have whipped up the jackals has been stunning. And utterly, utterly sickening.
— to www.thenational.scot