SNP’s hypocrisy over Boris Johnson and the Downing Street parties won’t fool the public – Murdo Fraser MSP

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Nicola Sturgeon is sworn in before giving evidence to the Holyrood Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/pool/AFP via Getty Images)

It’s a legitimate approach, given senior SNP figures have been trying to weaponise the Prime Minister’s behavior and use it as an argument for Scottish independence.

The SNP Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, said last week on Twitter: “Sleaze and corruption are endemic at Westminster… The only lasting solution is for Scotland to become an independent country and escape the broken Westminster system for good.” In response to the comments from Jacob Rees-Mogg directed towards Douglas Ross, Blackford tweeted: “It’s time for Scotland to be an independent country – and escape the arrogant, corrupt and broken Westminster system for good.”

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The charges against Mr Johnson are that he is a hypocrite, with one rule for himself and his staff and another for the public. That he misled the public and, if he found guilty of misleading Parliament, he must resign.

I have made my views on the Prime Minister’s future known, in that I believe that he should step down for the good of the country. But I also think that we can make a start in the process of applying the principles of Westminster to Holyrood, because we in Edinburgh are already ahead of the game.

It was less than a year ago that our First Minister was found guilty of misleading the Scottish Parliament by a vote of the committee investigating the handling of harassment complaints against her predecessor Alex Salmond. She didn’t resign.

The truth appears to have had to be dragged out of Mr Johnson at times. Not so Ms Sturgeon. When she gave evidence to the Scottish Parliament committee, she just said she could not remember – at least 50 times.

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Mr Johnson, I suspect, will always regret saying there was no party in the Downing Street garden, when now it seems there were several. Ms Sturgeon has never said whether or not she regrets saying Alex Salmond was the “least sexist man” she has ever met. Mr Salmond, of course, went on to face 13 charges in the High Court, of sexual assault and inappropriate behavior towards female staff. He was found not guilty of 12 of them and not from one.

While rumors of Mr Salmond’s behavior towards women had been the subject of gossip for years, his closest confidant, his mentee, in the tightest political relationship of modern Scottish times, says she never knew. Despite civil servants at all levels, government advisers, and politicians, all speculating that something seemed amiss, Ms Sturgeon, alone, was oblivious.

Mr Johnson’s plight has been made worse by MPs and MSPs from his own party – including me – calling on him to resign. That again, I believe, is a sign of a healthy democracy. Yet can anyone remember any time when an elected politician in the SNP criticized their own leadership of him?

There are claims that Tory Whips bully and even blackmail members to get them on side. One shudders to think what the SNP whips must do to maintain their record of such unblemished party discipline.

At Westminster when allegations are made about MPs, they are investigated. Yet when SNP MPs are accused of being drunk on an official parliamentary trip they are immediately cleared by Ms Sturgeon, without even being contacted by her.

We see huge sums of taxpayers’ money being wasted on building ferries that are already many years late, on subsidising Prestwick Airport and BiFab, being paid out in compensation to those who were victims of the malicious prosecution of individuals connected with Rangers FC. Any one of these scandals in Westminster would be front page news day after day, but in Scotland they are met with a shrug of the shoulders and a call to ‘move on’.

I would welcome it if the same standards of investigation that there are at Westminster were brought to Holyrood. Politicians – people in all fields of endeavor – often fall short of the standards they espouse, and we expect. Their hypocrisy should be exposed in a healthy democracy. But Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP take hypocrisy to new levels when they claim that the standards they live by are somehow higher than those at Westminster, when the opposite is too often true.

I can understand the tactic to try and build support for separation by claiming moral superiority over Westminster. If I were an independence supporter without a credible economic case, and no ideas as to how to fill the black hole in the public finances that would be caused by the loss of fiscal transfers from south of the Border, I would probably be doing the same .

But as a tactic, it relies on taking the public for fools and assuming that they have short memories. And there is precious little evidence of it working. In the poll commissioned by this newspaper and published last Friday, there is still no majority support for independence despite four out of five Scots believing that Boris Johnson should resign.

In an actual public vote last week – a local council by-election in the Preston, Seton & Gosford ward in East Lothian – the Conservative vote share actually went up compared to 2017, whilst the SNP and Labor vote shares both fell.

It looks like the Scottish people are reaching their own conclusions here. There is more than a speck of wrongdoing at Westminster, that is true. But it is hypocrisy which cannot be tolerated for the SNP to spot it in their neighbour’s eye, and gleefully hit it with the plank in their own.

Murdo Fraser is a Scottish Conservative MSP for Mid-Scotland and Fife

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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