New Statesman lets itself down with ‘SNP War’


The New Statesman is no friend of the Independence movement, but it has given space to some writing sympathetic to it and none of the mad frothing stuff we’re getting currently around Salmondgate. For example, in November 2018, we could read Nicholas Lezard writing:

‘I wasn’t pro-independence when there was a referendum on it, but now I’m here I begin to see the attraction, especially as England seems to have gone mad.’

However, giving space to serial raging distorter, Chris Deerin, they join the mob desperately trying to fabricate civil war in the SNP:

‘The war between Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon could be catastrophic for the SNP. If the sexual misconduct allegations against Salmond are not proven, his successor will be left helplessly exposed.’

I’m only doing this because I’ve got a lingering residual fondness for the New Statesman, which I subscribed to in the pre-Blair days, up to 1997. Pre-Internet, there wasn’t much else to read, and they sometimes featured the great Neal Acherson. I cancelled it when they thought it clever to let Alistair Campbell edit it and then to let Tony Blair write for them. They kept sending me free copies with invitations to re-subscribe but they’d crossed my red lines and the independence movement pulled me back.

I won’t take long with this. Just a few points:

‘His tactics – and he is good at tactics – have been to obscure the grim nature of the allegations by going after flaws in the process. His crowdfunding of £100,000 to cover his legal fees may leave a bitter taste in the mouth – Salmond is by most people’s standards well-off – but it has been effective. The step seems to have been made for political as much as financial reasons, to show that even amid this crisis he could command the loyalty of independence supporters. And they flocked to him – 4,000 people donated.’

‘Grim nature?’ He has been accused of sexual ‘harassment’ and not ‘assault’ as one Labour lackey tweeted today. ‘A bitter taste in the mouth?’ Why one earth should he not crowdfund? I contributed. His costs could have been enormous. ‘They flocked to him?’ There are 125 000 members. 1.6 million voted Yes when he was First minister. In that context, it was no clucking flock.

‘His latest tactic, having won his case on a technicality, is to force the resignation of the Scottish government’s permanent secretary, Leslie Evans. Evans drew up new procedures for handling sexual harassment claims shortly before the allegations against Salmond were made early last year.’

‘A technicality?’ It was a significant error and an ethical failure by the civil servants involved. ‘Scottish Government?’ Salmond knows, and many supporters know, that Evans is technically part of the Scottish Government and that Sturgeon has to support her staff in public, but they also know that Evans is the target along with the UK civil service. As things proceed Sturgeon’s signing-off the policy will be distinguished from Evan’s misuse of it.

‘Salmond and Sturgeon are now at war over Evans’s future. The former first minister says his victory is an “abject humiliation” for the Scottish government and insists Evans must “consider her position”. The current First Minister, who appointed the permanent secretary, and who signed off the new harassment procedures, is standing by her woman.’

Well of course she is standing by Evans in public but when politicians are let down by civil servants, they are already on the way out. Evans is replaceable, but the party apparatchiks will make sure no dynastic war ensues. Salmond is hurt but it will pass once Evans has gone, the Indyref2 campaign begins and his powers are wanted.

Finally, the media gaze will turn. What fascinating horrors do the Tories have in store for us in 2019?



15 thoughts on “New Statesman lets itself down with ‘SNP War’

  1. Bugger (the Panda) January 12, 2019 / 9:09 am

    This will play itself out eventually as Salmond will win.

    I am much more interested in who briefed the Daily Record and hope Salmond defamation action is the end of this rag.

    Is Press confidentiality of any standing in Law and especially in Civil Case.

    Millions at stake here.

    Liked by 3 people

    • johnrobertson834 January 12, 2019 / 11:20 am

      Yes, wouldn’t it be nice to catch the Wrecker and the Civil Service in a stinky bag together?


  2. Sam January 12, 2019 / 10:17 am

    Fascinating horrors lined up in 2019 by the Tories (of all hues), an Agressive Teachers Strike for starters. Coupled with the ongoing nuclear strike at the very heart of the SNP.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Alasdair Macdonald January 12, 2019 / 10:54 am

    Like you, I was for many years a subscriber to the New Statesman, but cancelled it about 20 years ago for reasons similar to those you have given. I have read copies in the interim, but, under the current editor, I think it turned sharply to the right, with features such as “Tories that we like”. It has been viciously hostile to Mr Corbyn. At the 2017 GE it stopped just short of endorsing Mrs May because of her ‘splendid redistributive instincts’. It was as mendacious as the rest of the media during the 2014 referendum and since then one of its deputy editors, Julia Crampton has produced a series of knocking and nasty copy. Like the Guardian and the Observer, it has been as hostile as the Daily Mail and the Express to Scottish independence.

    I enjoy the writings of Mr Nicholas Lezard, but he is one of these ‘dissolute reprobates’ (meant entirely praisingly!) like the late Jeffrey Barnard, who is given a platform (and a paycheque to support what is clearly a self-destructive marginal existence) to describe a side of life which is a bit different from the usually relatively comfortable lives of many NS subscribers. As such he is permitted to express views in support of Scottish independence, but because he is presented as a ‘quaint’ figure, views he expresses, particularly ones with which the NS disagrees, become ‘tainted’ by this. They reinforce the NS prejudices. Mr Lezard is an intelligent man and writes with sincerity and I think he made an honest presentation for his reasons for supporting independence.

    Interestingly, over 2018, the author of the piece which you are criticising, Mr Chris Deerin, had presented a series of articles in the context of Brexit, where he appeared to be moving towards a more sympathetic position with regard to independence, without being committal.

    I think you have summarised quite clearly, fairly and objectively the relative positions of the FM and Mr Salmond in this matter and the difficulties of Ms Evans with regard to the conduct of the investigation. An allegation has been made and in fairness to the person making it, this has to be taken seriously and investigated properly, but the accused person has rights, too, and has to be presumed to be innocent until demonstrated otherwise. In the latter case, this has been conceded by the Scottish Government not to have happened. As the person responsible for appointing the investigator and for overseeing the process, she has failed in this. Given the public interest in this case because of the status of the accused person, this matter has greater significance than most other cases of harassment allegations. I am not suggesting that complaints made by people anywhere in the organisation are less important – they should be investigated with equal rigour – but this particular case has much greater ramifications and so, given her awareness of the workings of government, Ms Evans had a duty to ensure that not only were things done correctly but seen to be done correctly.

    It is likely that the FM’s expression of confidence in Ms Evans is akin to the ‘dreaded’ expression of confidence football club chairmen express in mamnagers who have supervised a series of defeats.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. johnrobertson834 January 12, 2019 / 11:22 am

    Dissolute reprobates? Can I be one and still live in a bungalow?


    • Alasdair Macdonald January 12, 2019 / 11:50 am

      In my experience bungalows is fulla dissolute reprobates – Bearsden and Milngavie the modern Sodom and Gomorrah! (I live off much more civilised Maryhill Road.)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Scott January 12, 2019 / 11:56 am

    Hi John did you see this about the Statesman.

    BBC’s Neil goes apoplectic as journalist Owen Jones accuses his Spectator mag of defending neo-Nazis


  6. Penguin January 12, 2019 / 3:25 pm

    Deerin tells an outright lie there.

    We know from the court case that j mckinnon under orders from l evans sought out these two women and encouraged them ( ordered, forced , bribed or blackmailed them?) to make a complaint against A Salmond. ONLY THEN were the new procedures created allowing investigations into former members of the Scottish Government. These new procedures were then used by evans and mckinnon to pursue A Salmond before they leaked the fantasy allegations to the daily rectum.

    Changing the actual timeline is a fairly obvious attempt at a cover-up of what is clearly a politically motivated witch hunt. Strange that the entire yoon media is telling the same exact lie. Almost as though they were being fed the story from somewhere.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Contrary January 13, 2019 / 6:51 pm

    Interesting wording here: “If the sexual misconduct allegations against Salmond are not proven” ,,,, not proven, he doesn’t say, if he’s found guilty, but not proven. And we forget that the accusation is for ‘misconduct’ because of the media portrayal, don’t we.

    Misconduct sounds more like an internal disciplinary matter rather than a police matter – but maybe it has to be referred to the police because Alex was in public office at the time,,, no, can’t be, rarely happens in Westminster.

    The implication of disaster in the case of ‘not proven’ is stirring it – the most likely outcome is going to be ‘not proven’ – either a verdict, or more likely, I’d have thought, from insufficient evidence and no charge. The police would have produced something by now if the evidence was going to be easy.

    The two civil servants in this case have let everyone down, and are not fit to hold the positions they do.


    • Alasdair Macdonald January 14, 2019 / 10:27 am

      Contrary, you make an important point about what the allegation against Mr Salmond, is termed. If it is ‘misconduct’, then, although that can cover a multitude of things, the usual interpretation is of something which is wrong, but not particularly serious and therefore is suitable for internal procedures. In these cases, the lower standard of ‘balance of probabilities’ applies.

      If the police are involved, and the person who feels wronged is entitled to report matters to the police, who have to make a decision about whether to investigate.

      Given the concerns about sexual harassment the police will tend – rightly, in my view – to give the complainant the benefit of the doubt (‘take what they are alleging at face value’) and to investigate. This could lead to the matter being referred to the Procurator Fiscal, who could decide that there is to be a court case. At that the higher standard of ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ would apply’.

      Given the seriousness of matters which go to court, it is very important that cases do not fall because of procedural inadequacies. This cause disillusionment on the part of the complainant and the person facing the complaint has to live with the fact that there has not been a proper resolution and faces a long period of innuendo in the media.


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