The Scottish National Party (SNP) has formed the Scottish government at Holyrood since 2007. But what kind of Scotland has the SNP moulded during its long tenure?
Twenty-three journalists from across the media signed a letter accusing the Scottish government of failing to keep deadlines and frustrating freedom of information (FoI) requests. They warned that openness and transparency are "under great doubt", with the government "taking control" of information requests to agencies and using special advisers to screen requests for political damage. A reporter found 22 official government 'ministerial engagements' which were not minuted or had no notes taken at them.
During the 2015-2017 Westminster parliament, the SNP controlled 95% of Scotland's MPs, though elected with only half of the vote. These MPs (including two who lost the party whip) persistently voted in a single-minded bloc, having taken a gagging loyalty oath to "accept that no member shall within, or outwith the Parliament, publicly criticise a Group decision, policy or another member of the Group".
Holyrood's powerful committees were meant to empower opposition parties and backbenchers to scrutinize the government and to compensate for the lack of a revising chamber (like the House of Lords at Westminster). At the start of the previous Scottish parliament the SNP held 53.5% of seats, but took control of an extraordinary 90% of committees. The SNP lost its majority after the 2016 election, but still tried to stitch up the committees by having ministers' hand-picked parliamentary aides sitting on the same committees that are supposed to hold them to account.
Defying logic in their pursuit of anti-British ideology, the SNP wants to replace Scotland's 9.1% influence at Westminster with around 1.6% to 2% influence on the EU. They would rather yield Scotland's sovereignty to Brussels and synthesize endless grievances against the British government than join with them to exploit the advantages of regaining sovereign powers after Brexit.
The SNP government is determined to prioritize trade with the EU, even though Scotland's trade with the rest of the UK is four times the sum exported to the EU internal market.
The SNP government discriminates against students from the rest of Britain. Scottish and EU students do not have to pay university tuition fees in Scotland while students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland do.
Acting ultra vires at the taxpayers' expense, Nicola Sturgeon has deliberately wooed foreign influences antithetical to the UK's best interests.
Single police force:
The SNP government created Police Scotland in 2013, merging eight independent regional police forces and police authorities. Also, the British Transport Police in Scotland were subsumed into Police Scotland at the government's insistence, taking an "entirely" political decision without a detailed business case.
Police Scotland is accountable to the Scottish Police Authority which consists of members appointed by Scottish government ministers.
The Police Authority must comply with any direction given by government ministers.
The Police Authority appoints the Chief Constable of Police Scotland, but only if approved by government ministers.
State guardian for every child:
It took a Supreme Court ruling to delay the SNP government's intention to usurp parental authority by becoming the ultimate carer of every Scottish child. The scheme is only stalled, not scrapped.
A 'Named Person' state guardian is to be imposed on every child from 0 to 18, regardless of the child's wishes, the parents' wishes, or the lack of a compelling need for state intervention.
The Named Person will police a child's 'wellbeing' and development, and have unprecedented powers to pry on and interfere with family life.
These four aspects typify the SNP's ideologically-driven rule over Scotland, achieved through tight party discipline, the single-minded pursuit of independence at any cost, and a worrying lack of grace towards opponents. Erstwhile savvy Scots have been seduced by leader Nicola Sturgeon's populism and by simplistic mantras such as "standing up for Scotland", "progressive policies", "social justice", etc. But beyond the rhetoric, the SNP's independence referendum and general election campaigns exposed their financial irresponsibility, dangerous naivety about defence and security, and hypocrisy over democracy. As the SNP has not yet had to make any really hard fiscal decisions, it has been easy for them to scapegoat Westminster, Brexit, or the hated Tories whenever the going has got tough. Their poor record of government and increasing autocracy, admitted now by some SNP stalwarts, are discussed in an article below. The many ways in which the SNP misdirect and mislead the people of Scotland have been summarized well by others. The SNP and its supporters would even like to grab control over BBC Scotland so that its supposed anti-nationalist bias can be "resolved". Regarding national news, the BBC and STV have already caved in to some of the SNP's demands.
Since the independence referendum, the SNP has turned largely into a personality cult worshipping Nicola Sturgeon. Though a dogged activist, Sturgeon exhibits few novel or courageous political beliefs, has little work or personal experience outside SNP politics (she was briefly a lawyer, and even married the SNP's Chief Executive, Peter Murrell), and was prone to excessive centralizing and controlling tendencies during her ministerial careers. As Scotland's First Minister, Sturgeon earns a similar salary to the UK's Prime Minister, yet Scotland only has a twelfth of the UK's population and her role has a less onerous remit.
We contend that the greatest weakness of the SNP government and its often strident supporters is their severe inability to admit to themselves or to the world at large that they might be wrong sometimes and that engaging in reasoned debate with opposing views is essential for democracy.
Its independence obsession and poor record of governance caused the SNP to suffer massively in the 2017 General Election, losing 21 of its 56 seats and various high profile MPs such as Alex Salmond, Angus Robertson and Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh. Also, its vote share was slashed from 50.0% to 36.9%. In terms of seat and vote share, this was the worst general election win since 1983. More of the Scottish electorate voted to leave the EU than voted for the SNP in the general election, and more voted against the SNP than voted to remain in the EU.
It is bizarre that a party whose own constitution aims to repatriate powers from elsewhere to a national parliament enthusiastically supports membership of the EU, which requires sovereign powers to be surrendered to Brussels. Contrary to the SNP's bluster, it has been clear for some time that the EU is not minded to give Scotland the assurance of swift EU membership. Scotland would have to wait in the queue with other prospective new members, and likely face stiff opposition to membership from states such as Spain and Italy which fear their own secessionist regions. By the time Scotland could gain separation from the UK and negotiate membership of the EU as a new state, the EU will be even nearer its goal of being the 'United States of Europe' with the full powers of statehood, "founded on four building blocks: a fiscal union, a financial union, an economic union and a political union" (per Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank). Scotland would be subsumed into the superstate as little more than a geographical and cultural region; the real levers of control would be pulled in Brussels. Moreover, Scotland would almost certainly be obliged to adopt the euro as its currency and join the border control free Schengen area. It would not inherit any of the UK's current regulatory opt-outs or be entitled to a budget rebate. Without its share of the UK's rebate, an independent Scotland would have to pay the EU a membership fee of around £863 million per year. This is the nature of the so-called 'independence' which the SNP advocates for Scotland.
Scotland as an EU member state would have only around 2% and 1.6% of the voting weights in the Council of the European Union and European Parliament respectively. These figures should be compared with the 9.1% of influence which Scotland now wields at Westminster. 63% of Scotland's exports go to the rest of the UK, while less than 18% go to the EU with its shrinking economy. On its current performance, Scotland would have the worst deficit of any state in the EU or indeed, the developed world, even with oil. The SNP has said that "only once Scotland has its own seat at the top table" can it have hope of reforming or influencing the EU's future direction. The stark reality is that Scotland would have insufficient political or financial clout to be anything other than a very minor player in the EU arena. It is fanciful to believe that, say, a fairer share of fishing rights could ever be reclaimed by an independent Scotland within the EU. The SNP has scaremongered that many Scottish jobs are dependent membership of the EU. This assertion has been roundly disproved by three facts: 1) the jobs depend not on EU membership, but on trade which would continue regardless; 2) the EU sells to the UK far more than they buy from us; and 3) the EU has around 1½ times as many jobs "at risk" as the UK so the EU has every incentive to continue its highly profitable trade with us.
Neither the EU's failure to control illegal (especially Muslim) migration nor the corresponding public disquiet has deterred the SNP from wanting to open Scotland's doors to all types of immigration. This is despite new migrants to Scotland already being set to outstrip the number of Scottish births by nine to one over the next decade, with the population expected to grow to a record 5½ million people.
After losing the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, Nicola Sturgeon almost immediately started chivvying for another, in spite of her (and Salmond's) insistence that the referendum was a "once in a generation" or even "once in a lifetime" event. Now that the UK's exit from the EU is under way, Sturgeon has tediously turned up the 'indyref2' volume, drowning out the calls from 2 out of 3 Scots who do not wish another devisive referendum to be held in the near future, and spurning Prime Minister May's call for solidarity during Brexit negotiations. Sturgeon won a vote at Holyrood to demand a new Scottish independence referendum, but only with the help of Green regional MSPs, who are all appointed from party lists and represent a mere 3% to 6% of the electorate in their regions. Despite huge losses in the 2017 General Election caused mainly by their intransigence, the SNP is still conducting a 'neverendum' campaign until the UK government caves in and permits another plebiscite.
In the 2014 independence referendum 46.7% of the Scottish electorate voted to remain in the UK. This is a significantly higher figure than the 34.7% of the UK electorate who voted to remain in the EU in the 2016 UK-wide EU referendum. (The regional remain vote in Scotland was 41.7% of the Scottish electorate.) Yet Sturgeon wishes to pervert democracy by using the second decision to overturn the first. Furthermore, Sturgeon was happy to campaign across the whole of the UK during the EU referendum, legitimizing the UK-wide mandate. Her party's stances on the EU and the euro have been remarkably inconsistent, yielding more to political opportunism and pragmatism than any sense of an enduring EU-loving principle. And of course, by 2013 the SNP had run into trouble when the euro became electorally toxic because of the escalating eurozone crisis. It is supremely hypocritical of Sturgeon and Salmond to bleat that "Scotland must not be dragged out of the EU against its will" when exactly the same style of emotive language was employed previously by the SNP to try to prevent the UK from joining the EU's predecessor.
The SNP's policy of 'independence in Europe' is oxymoronic and it deceives the Scottish public. Scotland would be diminished both politically and economically if it turned its back on the UK, one of the world's longest and most productive unions, and relinquished sovereignty to the EU. Being pro-Scotland is one thing; being positively anti-British is another. A commentator summarized the situation thus: "Are the Scots really so resentful of what remains of Westminster rule that any overlords - even European ones - would be better than English overlords?
The other parties say they want to fight the election on our record. Well, I say, "good" - because so do I. Our record in government is one of delivery and achievement … it is a record I am proud of. Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister, 2015
The SNP has relentlessly pursued the narrow goal of independence, to the detriment of the overall governance of Scotland. There are many wider issues which have been neglected or shoddily managed on the SNP's watch. We touch on these areas of the SNP government's record:
The SNP government's Education Scotland agency admitted that school inspection reports more than five years old can no longer be accessed by the public online, and that those dated before April 2008 have been permanently deleted. This makes it very difficult or impossible to judge whether schools are getting better or worse, helping the government to evade scrutiny of their record.
The PISA assessment of ability in maths, reading and science showed Scottish education has tumbled to its worst level ever, just scraping the international average among developed countries. Since the SNP came to power, its ranking has dropped from 11th to 23rd for reading, from 11th to 24th for maths and from 10th to 19th for science. A record number of countries are now achieving more than Scotland. Further analysis summarized the decline thus:
Scotland has few stand-out strengths when it comes to the performance of its most able pupils. It stands around the OECD median in science, while the size of the gap between able advantaged and disadvantaged children does not stand out as particularly large or small relative to other industrialised countries. However, there is no specific area where able children in Scotland really excel. The major weaknesses include a pronounced and sustained decline in able pupils' performance in science, equivalent to around a year of schooling, over the last decade. It is also below the median OECD country in reading and mathematics, while trailing behind the performance of able pupils in England in most subject areas.
The SNP enthusiastically implemented the so-called Curriculum for Excellence but it is significantly failing to achieve its aim of "transforming education" for the better. The Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy (SSLN) shows decidedly unimpressive standards overall, a steep decline in writing ability and a decline in already low levels of numeracy. By the second year of secondary school (S2), these are the percentages of pupils performing well:
Listening & talking
The Scottish government has now scrapped the SSLN, preferring 'teacher professional judgement data collection'. Note that the pass mark for Higher Maths in 2015 was reduced to a farcical 34%.
Despite the SNP's election pledges, primary class sizes are at their highest for a decade, and the pupil/teacher ratio is among the worst in Europe. Also, the number of teaching posts is the lowest for a decade. Since the SNP came to power in 2007 there are around 4,000 fewer teachers and 1,000 fewer support staff.
Over 140,000 college places were cut and Scottish students are being squeezed out of university courses in Scotland as more are reserved for a 13% growth in students from the EU (since 2011). Students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland who attend Scottish universities are blatantly discriminated against by having to pay for their tuition fees while those of Scots and all other EU nationals are paid for them. The SNP's Higher Education (Governance) Bill, which struggled its way through Holyrood, could effectively nationalize universities, turning them into 'public' bodies stripped of true academic independence and charitable status. A further threat to autonomy comes from the government's intention to abolish the Scottish Funding Council, with a replacement new national funding board, potentially even being chaired by a government minister.
Before being stalled by a Supreme Court ruling, the SNP ignored widespread criticism and ploughed ahead with their Stalinist imposition of a state guardian on every Scottish child to look after their "wellbeing and outcomes" from age 0 to 18. (But incongruously, the SNP government reduced the voting age in Scottish elections to 16.) The Named Person guardian will have unprecedented powers to snoop on families and unilaterally decide what's best for a child. Nicola Sturgeon claimed that the Named Person scheme was "not compulsory - it's an entitlement", but the actual legislation and comments from the Scottish Government's own lawyer prove that the scheme will certainly be mandatory for all children and the professionals involved. This insidious measure is widely despised on both principled and practical grounds, and has been rocked by scandal after scandal. Excoriating criticisms of the legislation came from, for example, the Faculty of Advocates and the Isle of Man's disastrous experience.
Deserving cases will become submerged in a sea of "false positives" (most genuinely vulnerable children are already well known to the authorities anyway), trust between families and authority figures will inevitably be eroded, and badly stretched resources and public money will be squandered. The government's publicity about state guardians comes complete with patronizing SHANARRI wheels and sing-a-long songs. The potential power of the Named Person to indoctrinate children politically is another huge concern, as the SNP has already targeted them at school with propaganda packs.
In an unanimous judgement, the Supreme Court deemed the Named Person provisions to be "defective" for breaching Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which guarantees everyone's "right to a private and family life". The Court declared Holyrood had exceeded its powers by making a law which allowed public bodies to share sensitive private information about children and parents without consent. Once the political furore dies down, the SNP government is still determined to proceed with Named Persons, after amending their legislation to satisfy the Court's legal requirements regarding information sharing.
The NHS in Scotland has been devolved to Holyrood since 1999 and controlled by the SNP government since 2007. Audit Scotland has recently said: "there are urgent workforce challenges, and the Scottish Government and health boards have not planned effectively for the long term." It warns the NHS risks "not training enough doctors, nurses and midwives with the right skills for the future" as its workforce ages (for example, one in three nurses is now aged over 50). The auditors say urgent action is needed to curtail wasteful practices, including a huge over-reliance on expensive agency staff.
The government's strategy for making the NHS sustainable in the longer term - by treating patients in the community rather than hospital - has no clear framework, milestones, measure of success or costings.
NHS boards face "an extremely challenging financial position"; funding is not keeping pace with increasing demand and the needs of an ageing population.
All but one key waiting time targets (including those for cancer and casualty patients) were missed.
Because of problems recruiting staff and chasing targets, spending on agency staff increased to £175 million. Some consultants are paid more than £400,000 to provide cover for periods of less than a year.
A 2015 Scottish Academy investigation was also deeply critical and found NHS Scotland to have, amongst other things: a loss of leadership, too big a focus on spurious performance targets and not enough on quality of care, inadequate levels of staffing, too much defensiveness and insufficient weight given to patient complaints.
Despite laying more of the healthcare burden on family doctors, the Scottish government has failed to effectively address their recruitment and retention crisis. One in four GP practices in Scotland now has a job vacancy for a family doctor. A record number of practices - 52, equivalent to 1 in 20 - are now being run directly by health boards instead of GP partners, up by nearly 25% in two years. A 2015 survey of GPs in Scotland found:
There were 2% fewer whole-time equivalent GPs than in 2013.
The number of practices reporting a GP vacancy doubled between 2013 and 2015, with half of the vacancies persisting for more than six months.
More than a third of Scotland's GPs and 53% of nurses in general practice are over 50.
The Royal College of General Practioners says 830 extra GPs are required to bring nationwide coverage levels up to 2009 standards.
Law and order:
The single Police Scotland force created by the SNP government has been mired in controversy after controversy, failing miserably in its duty on several occasions, notably regarding missing and vulnerable persons. The SNP's obsession with centralization has created a constabulary conspicuously lacking in local accountability and local knowledge. The government-appointed Scottish Police Authority (SPA) quango has proven woefully inadequate to govern the police. Officer morale has plummeted and the force's financial situation has lurched from one crisis to another. Most police control rooms and dozens of police stations have been closed, with many more under threat of closure or reduced opening hours, further estranging the police from the citizens they serve.
The first Chief Constable, Stephen House, quit a year early after numerous controversies, including: officers being armed on routine duties despite House's reassurances they would not be; an appalling incident which saw a dead man and critically injured woman found in a car three days after a crash was reported; and parliament being misinformed about 'stop and search' data, reneging on a commitment to abolish stop-searches on young children.
Despite a string of profound problems, the SNP's dogma of centralized Scottish policing continues, with the British Transport Police (BTP) north of the Border being subsumed into Police Scotland. Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) found that the controversial merger was "entirely" a political decision and did not include a detailed business case.
Between June and September 2017, the crisis engulfing Police Scotland escalated:
SPA Chairman Andrew Flanagan quit following claims he was a bully who ran the quango like 'the Kremlin'.
SPA Chief Executive, John Foley, quit after a damning report exposed his 'shortcomings'.
Four separate allegations of bullying against the current Chief Constable, Phil Gormley forced him to step aside for a period of 'special leave'.
The SNP's Justice Secretary Michael Matheson kept his head down and has failed to take appropriate control of the shambles. He also refuses to delay or halt the merger with the BTP.
The justice system has not fared any better under the SNP's control: many local courts have been closed and soft-touch justice has disgusted the victims of crime and endangered the public by allowing serious criminals to be released far too early. According to UN data, Scotland is now the assault capital of the world, for attacks resulting in "serious bodily injury". And of course, we must not forget the debacle surrounding the al-Megrahi release in 2009.
The Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) figures show that Scotland ran a deficit - public overspending - of £14.8 billion or 9.5% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2015-16, compared to the UK's overall deficit of 4%. No country in the EU has a deficit as high as Scotland's, and if Scotland were an independent member of the EU, it would be forced to adopt extreme austerity measures. An increase in Scotland's onshore revenues by £1.9 billion over the last year was almost wiped out by the share of North Sea oil/gas revenues falling by £1.8 billion. The rest of the UK is handsomely subsidising Scotland: public sector expenditure in Scotland is £12,800 per person - £1,200 greater than the UK average. Scotland on its own would simply not be able to support the SNP's high level of public spending; deep cuts and/or much higher taxation would be inevitable. Yet Nicola Sturgeon still denies the scale of Scotland's economic problems.
By gaining independence with no going back, the SNP wanted to grab complete power over Scotland's economy. Yet in all their years governing Scotland, and for all their carping at Westminster for supposedly depriving funding, the SNP never had the political courage to use the 3% income tax variation permitted by the Scottish devolution settlement. The voters were deprived of the opportunity to judge the SNP's ability to steward income tax before being asked to risk all. Tellingly, the SNP's first attempt at implementing a new tax - the Land and Building Transaction Tax (LBTT) to replace stamp duty - was an abject failure, having to be swiftly reconstructed to be more in line with fairer taxation in the rest of the UK.
Along with independence and the EU, another great SNP passion has been renewable energy, especially a determination to saturate the country with wind turbines whose output varies enormously with the weather. Heavily subsidised - even when the wind doesn't blow - these windmills and associated transmission lines have despoiled vast areas of Scotland's landscape and disturbed the local environments of people and wildlife. A third of Scotland's wild land was lost in only seven years, mostly to wind farm construction. The impact on tourism and for example, location filming, must be dire. Most of the financial benefits from wind power go to wealthy landowners, and overseas energy giants and turbine manufacturers; few jobs were created in Scotland. Meanwhile, fudging the need for reliable backup power generation, the SNP is committed to phasing out nuclear power and has imposed an indefinite ban on shale gas fracking in Scotland, jeopardising among other things the future of the Grangemouth petrochemical plant. With plunging oil prices, the North Sea oil industry is now in crisis. SNP ministers have had to downgrade their predictions for North Sea oil tax revenue by tens of billions of pounds compared to their extravagant claims made during the independence referendum.
Despite demanding even more powers for the Scottish government, the SNP administration has failed to use the powers it already has. SNP Ministers asked the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to stay in charge of paying 11 welfare benefits until 2020, a three-year delay in taking responsibility.
Both the 2007 and 2011 SNP manifestos contained pledges to ditch the council tax, which Nicola Sturgeon branded as "totally unfair" while dismissing the idea of "any tinkering with bands". After nine years in power, the SNP announced … it would keep the council tax and tinker with the higher tax bands. Also, property values would not be re-assessed, so the grossly inaccurate 1991 valuations will continue to be used, though around 57% of homes are in the wrong tax band.
With their Land Reform Bill, the SNP intends to strip away many of the rights of land ownership, so SNP ministers can force the sale of property when its owner is deemed to be a barrier to "sustainable development".
For two years in a row, the SNP government screwed up the payment of the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) subsidies to Scottish farmers. Payments worth hundreds of millions of pounds were withheld because of the unworthiness of a new £178 million computer system commissioned by the government. So that they could stay in business while the shambles was resolved, farmers had to apply for loans. However, it then emerged that the government had wrongly calculated these interim loans for hundreds of farmers and crofters. Scottish taxpayers may face EU fines of up to £60 million because the SNP government has broken the CAP payment regulations.
The £6 billion Scotrail franchise awarded to Dutch operator Abellio by the SNP has proven a poisoned chalice for ineffective transport minister Humza 'Yousless' (ironically caught driving without insurance by the police). Poor punctuality, cancellations, breakdowns, and overcrowding, plus a long dispute with the RMT union, all greatly frustrate the travelling public, to the point where some call for Yousaf's resignation.
The SNP government put lifeline Hebridean and Clyde ferry services run by CalMac out to competitive tender under EU regulations, despite expert opinion that there was no economic or moral argument for their privatisation. CalMac's competitor, Serco, is known to have limited experience within the maritime industry and has a poor track record of maintenance, staff training and safety.
Cracks in the Forth Road Bridge resulted in its closure and widespread transport chaos. The timeline and details of bridge maintenance highlighted problems with 'truss end links' in 2009 or possibly earlier. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and then Transport Minister Derek Mackay denied publicly that scheduled repairs cancelled in 2010 would have prevented the bridge being closed. However, Mackay finally admitted that the repair work "would have seen the replacement of that area and much more." Funds to maintain the bridge were cut when the SNP government scrapped tolls in 2008 as a popular gesture, and when John Swinney, the then Finance Minster, cut the bridge's capital budget by two-thirds in 2011. The SNP government had also privatised the bridge's maintenance.
Consultations and referendums:
It is now manifest that the SNP's leaders can deceive, govern by stealth and pay lip service to public opinion with just as much aplomb as their opponents - so much for their lauded 'progressive politics' and 'fairer society'. Both Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond said before the 2014 independence referendum that it was a "once in a generation or even a lifetime" event, with the former confirmed in the SNP's referendum manifesto Scotland's Future. Cynically ditching this pledge on the deceptive pretext that the Brexit vote "changes everything", Sturgeon is obsessed with holding another referendum, regardless of how the 'neverendum' is dividing Scottish society, and undermining financial stability and business confidence.
With much fanfare, Sturgeon launched the 'The National Survey' in 2016, boasting that it was "Scotland's biggest ever political listening exercise", to lead a "conversation" on independence. This descended into farce when it was found to breach data protection law and the SNP refused to publish its findings. In 2012, the results of the consultation on the 2014 referendum took an excessive 5½ months to publish, but what influence could the findings have when the Referendum Agreement had already been signed by Salmond and Cameron 8 days earlier?
The SNP's Scottish Parliament election manifesto in 2011 pledged only to consult on same-sex marriage, yet once elected with a majority, the SNP pushed through the legislation in 2014 despite profound and principled public concerns. As feared, the government has failed to adequately protect the rights of people who do not believe in same-sex marriage.
SNP MPs, MSPs, government and party officials have become embroiled in a variety of scandals which surpass even those of the previously dominant Scottish Labour party. Just a selection follows here, and a summary of SNP MPs' misdemeanours is also available:
SNP ministers have repeatedly interfered in reports from supposedly independent bodies to water down findings which embarrass the SNP government. For example, Audit Scotland was pressured to soften reports criticizing the running of NHS Scotland and highlighting drops in college student numbers. Sturgeon's former poverty adviser, Naomi Eisenstadt, complied with requests to change two reports critical of how government policies were afflicting the poor and how free university tuition has reduced investment in colleges.
Following allegations of financial impropriety, former SNP MP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh is under investigation by the Law Society of Scotland for possible professional misconduct relating to her previous career as a lawyer. She had known about the inquiry for months but failed to declare it publicly. It is also likely that the SNP hierarchy knew but stalled the revelation until after Ahmed-Sheikh was reselected as their General Election candidate.
In April 2017, Nicola Sturgeon went on a controversial week-long tour of the USA, ostensibly to promote Scottish business, tourism, culture and so on. However, at every opportunity she plugged the SNP's drive for independence, denying that her trip's main mission was to launch an independent Scotland on the world stage. Sturgeon's trip cost the taxpayer a cool £41k. Around the same time, four SNP MPs - Paul Monaghan, Joanna Cherry, Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh and Corri Wilson - travelled to New York also on the public purse. They blatantly flaunted an SNP banner during the city's Tartan Day Parade, raising suspicions that taxpayer's cash was being used for activities outwith parliamentary business. The SNP refused to release their full itinerary; plus Monaghan and Wilson did not hold front bench portfolios.
The chairman of the Scottish Police Authority (SPA), which oversees Police Scotland, resigned amid controversy over his conduct and the organization's governance. Andrew Flanagan was criticized by a former colleague and MSPs on two Holyrood committees over claims of a "secret society" on its board and meetings held behind closed doors. One MSP told bosses that "it's not the Kremlin you're running", while another asked if it was fit for purpose. Brian Barbour quit the SPA board over alleged SNP government interference. He said the government received SPA board documents before they were published in a bid to "control the agenda" and ensure difficult issues "never made the light of the day". Another board member, Moi Ali, resigned when the SPA pushed through plans to hold committees in private and only publish board papers on the day of the meeting, hampering transparency. The chairman and members of the SPA are appointed by the Scottish government.
Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) launched a bankruptcy action against the former SNP MP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh over debts related to her old sharia law providing firm, Hamilton Burns WS, in which she retained a shareholding. (A sequestrated MP is barred from the House of Commons). She resolved her bankruptcy dispute with HMRC ahead of a hearing in open court.
Audit Scotland in their 2015-16 report revealed that Scotland lost £14 million of EU funding 'because of errors'. They described the debacle as a "permanent loss of grant to the Scottish Government which it cannot now recover".
Transport minister Humza Yousaf was caught by the police, and convicted of, driving a friend’s car without insurance. He received a £300 fine and six penalty points.
SNP MPs made 8 of the top 10 travel expense claims, charging several times more than their predecessors. SNP MSPs have also exploited expenses. Seven SNP MPs employ family members at the expense of the taxpayer, despite the practice being banned in the Scottish Parliament and discredited after the MPs' expenses scandal.
Scottish ministers finally admitted 3 months after the event that a controversial £10 billion trade deal with China had collapsed. The deal, described as a "shambles" by the Chinese consortium involved, only lasted 5 months and had been personally sealed by Nicola Sturgeon.
Nicola Sturgeon charged taxpayers £4.9 million in 2016 to cover the cost of her 'strategic' communications activity. Her communications team at St Andrew's House in Edinburgh has swollen to 46 people, peddling what critics have labelled as "propaganda" pushing Sturgeon's bid to break up the UK. Also, Sturgeon refuses to publish the cost of her trips to EU member states to try and drum up support for Scotland staying within the bloc.
Nicola Sturgeon attempted a "power grab" on Holyrood committees that would have seen SNP MSPs being given jobs as aides to the same ministers they were supposed to hold to account. The plan had to be abandoned after a growing furore. The SNP exhibited astonishing hypocrisy over the matter: Fiona Hyslop (now Culture and External Affairs Secretary) said in 2002 that the SNP "objects to those aides joining committees. To do so undermines the committees' independence, which is so vital to Parliament."
With impunity, the SNP now offers business figures the chance to lobby its senior politicians in exchange for handing over thousands of pounds in sponsorship for the party's conference. Despite previously slamming Labour and the Conservatives for such 'cash for access' deals, the SNP can rake in around £200,000.
Three of the four members of the Scottish government's Child Abuse Inquiry panel (regarding children in care) resigned, including its original chairwoman, Susan O'Brien QC. In her resignation letter she said the SNP government had "sought to micro-manage and control the inquiry", and had "undermined" her and threatened to sack her when she resisted. Expert Professor Michael Lamb also slammed the government: "It has become increasingly clear … that the panel cannot act independently and that the Scottish government intends to continue interfering in ways large and small, directly and indirectly … Repeated threats to the inquiry's independence have undermined the panel's freedom and have doomed the inquiry before the first witness has been heard. The Scottish government has delayed or prevented the appointment of crucial members of staff for prolonged periods of time while its officials have questioned the decisions made by the supposedly independent inquiry." The enquiry will continure with just one panel member.
Two SNP MPs, Stewart Hosie and Angus MacNeil, each left their wife following affairs with the same journalist at Westminster. The journalist is said to have told friends that she saw the MPs as romantic revolutionaries, describing them as 'the Mujahideen of British politicians'. MacNeil has cheated before, being caught with two teenage girls in a hotel room in 2007 while his pregnant wife was in hospital.
The SNP government wrote to all directors of education and head teachers in Scotland, asking them to send pupils from each school to an "Ask the First Minister" event to be held just three days before the Scottish pre-election 'purdah' period. This was essentially a party political rally, advertised using public resources, to promote Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP to newly eligible 16-17 year-old voters.
Two of the 2015 intake of SNP MPs, Natalie McGarry and Michelle "17 houses" Thomson, had to resign from the SNP whip. After a police probe into reported discrepancies in money raised for the 'Women for Independence' group, McGarry was charged with several alleged offences, including embezzlement of funds, breach of trust and an offence under the Scottish Independence Referendum Act. Earlier in 2016, a legal action against McGarry was settled out of court and she had to 'apologise unreservdly' and pay £10,000 after falsely claiming a pro-Union campaigner was a 'Holocaust denier'. Thomson withdrew after police decided to investigate alleged irregularities in property deals made by a solicitor whose services were used by Thomson.
Nicola Sturgeon is on record saying that tax avoidance is "awful … despicable" and "obscene and immoral". However, her party later backed an SNP MP, Phil Boswell, who admitted substantially benefiting from a tax avoidance loophole in a previous job.
In August 2015 the SNP accepted £10,000 from an animal rights lobby group, just a month after its MPs blocked a vote on fox hunting which affected only England. The Political Animal Lobby and its sister organisation Network for Animals had been lobbying the SNP for months, asking "what can we do to help the SNP?". Former SNP MP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh had met with the group in June 2015.
The SNP government gave £150,000 of taxpayers' cash to the T-in-the-Park music festival after the event, despite its organisers DF Concerts making around £4.5m in profits each year and officials having doubts. It is not known how the money was spent, and the government said they would not publish any explanation. Jennifer Dempsie, a former aide to Alex Salmond, set up the crucial meeting between the Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop and the company. Dempsie is the wife of Angus Robertson, former MP and SNP leader at Westminster, and she was forced to abandon her intention to become an SNP list MSP in 2016.
The Scottish Islamic Foundation (SIF), was launched by Alex Salmond and included a future SNP minister Humza Yousaf among its directors. Its first chief executive, the Islamist Osama Saeed, was an advisor to Mr Salmond and an SNP candidate for a Westminster seat. Several of Saeed's relatives were on SIF's board. Freshly created and without a track record, SIF was paid £203,000 (from £406,000 granted) by the SNP government. £128,000 had to be repaid when SIF failed to realize its grand 'IslamFest' project. Salmond was also involved in giving £16,160 of public financial support, in dubious circumstances, to launch the Scottish Asian Women's Association (SAWA), founded by former SNP MP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh. While she chaired SAWA, giving her valuable, but possibly charity rule-breaking, publicity, it donated a mere 2.8% of its income to good causes.
When deputy first minister in 2010, Nicola Sturgeon made significant errors of judgement which almost cost her political career, despite Alex Salmond's backing. She wrote to lobby a court to give a constituent, twice-convicted Muslim fraudster Abdul Rauf, a non-custodial sentence after he admitted an £80,000 benefits fraud. The earlier conviction for Rauf, a former sub-postmaster, was for stealing almost £60,000 in pension and benefit payments by forging signatures more than 700 times. Sturgeon referred to Rauf's crimes as "mistakes". There were strong suspicions that Sturgeon's intervention was a quid pro quo for crucial Muslim Pakistani support for her 2007 election win in Glasgow Govan.
The SNP, founded in 1934, has long accommodated extremists both within its own ranks and among allies of convenience in the push for independence. Fascists, anti-English racists, 'tartan terrorists', anti-Semites, and more recently, Islamists and former IRA terrorists have all featured in its history. The 2014 independence referendum provided a unique opportunity for the SNP to finally rid itself of the taint of extremism and showcase its political maturity. Yet few reasonable observers would disagree that during the referendum campaign the bulk of fanatical, unpleasant and undemocratic behaviour came from SNP members and supporters. Online harassment and bullying by the so-called 'cybernats' were especially vile at that time, and still continue. The SNP leadership only really addresses the problem when their hand is forced by adverse public opinion (such as caused by the hounding of the late Charles Kennedy MP), and even then their actions are rarely effective. They were forced to suspend a member when she was charged by police after abusing and intimidating Conservative campaigners during the 2017 election. Examples of the SNP's past and present links with extremism are:
Over 90% of those elected as SNP MPs have expressed distinct pro-Palestinian/anti-Israel bias. 55% are overtly declared 'SNP Friends of Palestine', advocating the recognition of an independent Palestinian state; calling "for an end to the Israeli occupation and withdrawal from and removal of all illegal Israeli settlements"; and supporting "the Palestinian 'Right of return'."
SNP MSP Ivan McKee invited outspoken Hamas supporter Azzam Tamimi to Holyrood to speak at the 'Scottish Independence: Implications for Palestine' event he organized in 2017. In a BBC interview in 2004, Tamimi said: "Sacrificing myself for Palestine is a noble cause. It is the straight way to pleasing my God and I would do it if I had the opportunity." A speech in 2012 reiterated his ties to Hamas and his willingness to become a "martyr" - a suicide bomber. Forced into a humiliating climbdown over the invite, especially after pressure came from appalled Jewish leaders, the SNP claimed McKee had been "unaware" of Tamimi's extremist views.
Nicola Sturgeon and Humza Yousaf openly campaigned throughout the 2016 Scottish election with a known Islamist, Osama Saeed. The Scottish media made no comment yet at the same time the Labour party was much criticized for harbouring anti-Semites. Through their SNP links, Yousaf and Saeed brought three Islamic extremists to a meeting with a Scottish government minister in 2008 (see below).
After the jihad attacks on Paris in November 2015, Nicola Sturgeon and two other Scottish government ministers chose to go, not to the French Consulate, but to the extremist-linked Glasgow Central Mosque for the official Europe-wide minute of silence for the victims. The day after the 2007 jihad attack on Glasgow Airport, Alex Salmond, then First Minister, made it his well-publicized priority to visit the same mosque, to assure Islamic leaders that he was determined to prevent reprisals against Glasgow's Muslim community. He and his deputy Sturgeon went to great lengths to deny the motivation for jihad attacks.
The SNP would be happy to flood Scotland with "many, many more" Muslim migrants, of whom at least "8 in every 10" could be expected to vote SNP.
The SNP government will not clamp down on creeping Sharia law, stating: "Voluntary agreement by both parties to seek help from Shari'a … is not prohibited unless otherwise restricted in Scots law. The Scottish Government has no intention of changing this position." Yet Sharia has been found (twice) to contravene the European Convention on Human Rights, and hence, to break EU law. Former SNP MP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh's old law firm Hamilton Burns was the first in Britain to offer both civil and Sharia law services.
Sturgeon, her Muslim former MP colleague Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh and Muslim government minister Humza Yousaf MSP make a priority of jumping unconditionally to defend Islam and its adherents. Sturgeon and Ahmed-Sheikh also claim to champion women's rights. But these virtual-signalling hypocrites have remained silent about the industrial-scale grooming and raping of underage non-Muslim girls by predominately Muslim gangs in England (cases have occurred in Scotland too), and they failed to condemn mass sexual assaults on European women committed by Muslim migrants, for example, in Cologne.
The SNP, led by Muslim minister Humza Yousaf, sought massive funding from Qatar between 2013-2015 for projects such as hospitals, roads and Prestwick Airport, even though Qatar has an abysmal record on human rights and it was known in 2014 that the Qatari government was "providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL [now Islamic State] and other radical Sunni groups".
Sandra White, an SNP MSP, received an official police warning for publicising an anti-semitic cartoon via Twitter. White has a long history of tweeting and actively lobbying for pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel positions. In 2006, she disparaged the Union Flag as "the butcher's apron".
In 2012, Nicola Sturgeon spoke at a 'Love the Prophet' rally to support Muslims who demanded that the blasphemy provisions of sharia law be used to restrict a film-maker's freedom of expression.
The SNP dallies with racists and republicans:
SNP vetting approved these potential candidates for the 2017 local government elections in Glasgow and Stirling respectively:
Allan Casey: Actually elected as a councillor for Dennistoun. Pictured beating a drum on a march honouring a former IRA member. Posted a series of hardline messages on social media in support of the IRA before he joined the SNP. Referred to the SAS as "scum" and wrote "fuck the brits". Since 2015, Casey has worked as a parliamentary assistant in the office of the SNP MSP for Glasgow Provan, Ivan McKee.
Sonja Cameron (previously Vathjunker, from Dusseldorf): Convicted in court over her role in the sinister Settler Watch group which conducted a racist hate campaign against English people who had moved to Scotland. She was also a friend of Andrew McIntosh, a Scottish National Liberation Army (SNLA) terrorist, who was jailed for bombing and firearms offences, and she probably had links to another terrorist, Adam Busby.
Two SNP politicians, MSP James Dornan and councillor Feargal Dalton, posed in front of a banned Irish republican terror group's flag in Glasgow during 2014. Dalton's wife Carol Monaghan is an SNP MP and armed forces spokesperson.
Public opinion forced Nicola Sturgeon to reprimand one of her MSPs, John Mason, and apologize to the families of three Scottish IRA murder victims after Mason claimed members of the terrorist organisation could be considered "freedom fighters".
Sturgeon courted former IRA terrorist Martin McGuinness and other Irish republicans to oppose Westminster government policies, "share concerns about the Human Rights Act and the prospect of a break from the European Union", and to collaborate to bring about the breakup of the UK.
Most SNP members are actually hardline republicans who would swiftly move to convert an independent Scotland to a republic. The official party line of retaining the Queen as head of state has been exposed as just a cynical veneer to gull voters. In 2016 senior SNP figures were photographed in front of a pub collection tin for the rabidly anti-British, pro-IRA, Scottish Republican Socialist Movement.
The SNP cosied up to the Nazis:
According to MI6 files, Scottish nationalists who had already forged an alliance with the IRA attempted to set up a German-Scottish alliance against England during the Second World War. Via intermediaries in Dublin, they offered in 1940 and again in 1943 to proclaim an independent pro-German invasion of Scotland in the event of a Nazi invasion of England. In return, they asked Germany to stop bombing Scotland and give captured Scottish conscripts special treatment.
An MI5 wartime spy report claimed that SNP member Arthur Donaldson (who led the SNP from 1961 to 1969) plotted to set up a puppet Nazi government in Scotland. He would have headed a Vichy-style regime with himself as a "Scottish Quisling" in the wake of Hitler's much-anticipated invasion. Donaldson was interned in 1941 under suspicion of subversive activities, having revealed to a close confidant - who was also a British agent - that a network of Nazi sympathisers was planning to undermine the war effort. Donaldson was also photographed in the 1930s with members of the Hitler Youth. Described by Alex Salmond as "an inspirational figure", and commemorated by the SNP every year with a special lecture.
The SNP lionizes the Scottish poet Hugh MacDiarmid and their MPs paid tribute to him and his poem "The Little White Rose of Scotland" by wearing white roses (ironically not Scottish roses) at the opening of parliament in 2017 and 2015. MacDiarmid was a lifelong supporter of both communism and Scottish nationalism, and counted 'Anglophobia' among his hobbies. Also admiring fascism for some time, he regarded the British and French bourgeoisie as a "far greater enemy" than Hitler's Germany and believed that a Nazi invasion of Britain would benefit Scotland. As the London Blitz started, MacDiarmid callously wrote "that I hardly care", and that indeed "London far better than most" was deserving of devastation.
Humza Yousaf, the SNP's Muslim showman at Holyrood, is media-friendly, seems personable (but glimpse another side), and has been shown much favour by Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond. He is the Scottish Minister for Transport and the Islands, and previously was the Minister for Europe and International Development. Regrettably, Yousaf has proved remarkably ineffectual in both of these roles and is now regarded as an increasing liability for the credibility of Nicola Sturgeon's administration. Being caught driving without insurance by the police has upped the ante.
Yousaf was asked in a podcast interview if he felt that his religion influenced his politics. He replied: "I was taught as a young Muslim that 'to kill one innocent person is as if you killed the whole of humanity'. So these things were taught to me from an Islamic perspective through our scriptures, through our teachings and so on … does that influence my politics on these issues? Yeah - I don't doubt that it has done." Yousaf either doesn't understand or knowingly misleads us about this teaching from the Quran. It is not an all-encompassing prohibition of murder; it is actually a warning to Jews not to make war against Muhammad, or else they will face terrible punishment. Here is the whole of the relevant verse, and the next verse which together paint an entirely different picture from Yousaf's selective quotation:
Quran 5:32: "That was why We laid it down for the Israelites [Jews] that whoever killed a human being, except as punishment for murder or other villainy in the land, shall be regarded as having killed all mankind; and that whoever saved a human life shall be regarded as having saved all mankind. Our apostles brought them veritable proofs: yet many among them, even after that, did prodigious evil in the land." Quran 5:33: "Those that make war against God [Allah] and His Apostle and spread disorder in the land shall be slain or crucified or have their hands and feet cut off on alternate sides, or be banished from the land. They shall be held up to shame in this world and sternly punished in the hereafter …"
Here are other examples of Yousaf's Islamic partiality:
An analysis of an article entitled Reflections on 2015 written by Yousaf showed his interests in EU and international affairs to be remarkably limited and highly selective. The migrant and refugee crisis got the most attention by far, while Islamic terrorism was skirted and EU issues beyond migrants got no mention at all. Also, a survey of his original tweets (or those done in his name) on Twitter showed that, after SNP politicking, migrants and refugees concerned him most. Islamic and Muslim issues, then the Syrian war, followed. The moniker of 'Minister for Migrants and Muslims' applied by some critics at the time seems not entirely inappropriate. Yousaf is well aware how important it is for the SNP to pander to the 'Asian' (predominately Pakistani Muslim) electorate. In a 2011 interview with Plaid Cymru he remarked:
"When my dad came to live in Scotland the Asian community here was about 99 per cent Labour supporting and stayed that way for years. It's far from that now. I would say that in my area about eight in every ten Asians voted SNP …".
Yousaf buys uncritically into the 'islamophobia' narrative, giving Islam special privilege and according victimhood status to Muslims while being economical with the facts. In an interview given just before the 2015 general election, Yousaf said:
"Sometimes we like to think of Scotland as being above racism, and Islamophobia. It's not. Islamophobia, anti-semitism, racism, these things all exist in Scotland. You don't even have to scratch below the surface to see they exist … And whether its the hijabs being banned or minarets being banned, there are hints that Islamophobia is getting worse across the European continent. We need to be vigilant."
The reality is that Muslims are more the perpetrators, than the victims, of hate crime in Western Europe, being over-represented by an order of magnitude in the commission of anti-Jewish crimes. Further, around 55% of Western European Muslims harbour anti-Semitic attitudes; UK Muslims' figure is little better at 54%. The per capita rate of anti-Jewish crime in the UK is at least 2 to 3 times greater than that of anti-Muslim crime.
Yousaf's mother, Shaaista Yousaf, is a director of the Glasgow-based Al-Meezan Islamic centre, which Aqsa Mahmood, the notorious Islamic State jihadist 'recruiter', attended for classes on "balancing life with Islamic learning". Over the period 2014-2017, Al-Meezan received a whopping £520,000 of public funding from the Scottish Government's Climate Challenge Fund. Another of its directors, Ayesha (aka Aisha) Omar, gifted and recommended a book by Abul A'la Maududi to an author, despite Maududi's known Islamic fanaticism and the authorities' view that some of his works present such an obvious security risk that they have to be banned from British prison libraries.
In recent years Yousaf has called for Scotland to take in Palestinian refugees, urging recognition of a Palestinian state and a full arms embargo on Israel. He has never mentioned that 44-82% of Palestinians support knife attacks against Israelis and two-thirds of Palestinians justify suicide bombings against civilians in defence of Islam. Or that Israel is the only free democracy in the Middle East.
Yousaf visited the Gulf state of Qatar in May 2013, seeking £1.3 billion from Arabs to pay for new hospital and road developments in Scotland. In pursuit of this funding, the SNP Scottish government and Yousaf were prepared to overlook Qatar's abysmal record on human rights, which includes the cruelty of sharia, and the exploitation, abuse and forced labour of migrant workers.
Despite the SNP's hero worship of him and his stellar rise to government high office, Yousaf has the following skeletons which will continue to rattle in his cupboard:
Prior to his election, Yousaf had been a media spokesman for Islamic Relief, a charity which has been unable to shake off accusations of links to terrorism, such as to the proscribed Hamas organization.
SNP candidate for Glasgow Central in the 2010 General Election, being given a glowing endorsement by Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmond: "I've never met anyone better endowed with the qualities required to be an outstanding member of parliament".
Advisor to Alex Salmond and highly regarded by the SNP hierarchy.
Spokesman 2002-2007 for the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB). This is a front for the Muslim Brotherhood which has been outlawed as a terrorist entity in several countries, and described by a UK government investigation as "contrary to our values … our national interests and our national security".
Writing in 2006 to praise the late notorious al-Qaeda leader, Anwar Al-Awlaki, saying: "He preached nothing but peace".
Writing in 2005 of the need to recreate an Islamic caliphate and in support of sharia "to create a peaceful and just society". Also, heaping praise on Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a hard-line Islamic scholar and anti-Semite, who supports various forms of sharia-justified violence, including suicide attacks on all Israelis and Americans, including women.
Main aspects of the SIF scandal were:
At various times, as well as Yousaf and Saeed, SIF's board also included Saeed's wife, two of his brothers, and Yousaf's then girlfriend Gail Lythgoe.
Despite being newly formed and lacking a track record, SIF was awarded £406,000 in grants from the SNP government, of which £203,000 was actually paid. Hubris from SIF and Alex Salmond about holding a great cultural 'IslamFest' and an Islamic financial event produced nothing and SIF was forced to repay £128,000, with the rest squandered.
SIF gave a platform to some of the most prominent Islamists in the UK, allowing them to lecture to young Scottish Muslims.
Under SIF auspices, Yousaf and Saeed were personally involved in introducing Mohammed Sawalha and two other known Islamic extremists Ismail Patel and Anas al-Tikriti to senior members of the SNP Scottish government, such as Linda Fabiani, the Minister for Europe, External Affairs and Culture. It is of particular note that Sawalha is a senior Hamas activist who publicly supports jihad and was formerly involved in both political and operational Hamas activities in the West Bank, including running the terrorist operative infrastructure. There is proof of the meetings held in 2008 which involved SIF, the Islamic extremists, and the SNP Scottish government.
Scottish civil servants showed alarming naivety in dealing with the SIF situation and the incompatibility of sharia with democracy and civil rights.
Yousaf played an important role as the auctioneer in the grubby 'lunchgate' auction scandal, where he and Saeed (again) collaborated to auction meals with SNP government ministers for large wads of cash. Paying for Saeed's election campaign was one of the aims. Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond both attended the event in the Kabana restaurant in Sturgeon's Govan constituency, and the audience consisted almost entirely of Muslims from Glasgow. Someone recorded the auction and remarked: "Yousaf's patter wasn't subtle. The link between cash, parliament and the ministers' time was explicit."
Yousaf's former wife, Gail Lythgoe, converted to Islam and was an SNP activist, who also worked for Islamic Relief, SIF and the Scottish government. She gained notoriety in 2011 when she emailed a women's equality group, alleging that a Labour politician had a history of bullying women, and called on them to demonstrate against him whilst not revealing that the SNP were the instigators. After the email was leaked, Lythgoe had to publicly apologise for making unsubstantiated allegations. She has also been involved in rows about a "fake leaflet" and an inaccurate SNP newspaper. No longer an SNP member, Lythgoe has more recently urged people to vote for the Scottish Greens instead of a party with "cult-like voting habits".