SNP crisis: Bitter sackings show Sturgeon’s dominance ‘fragile’ – election warning issued

Mark Sedwill’s replacement is ‘about revenge’ says Joanna Cherry

It comes after a week of political chaos which saw two SNP Westminster frontbenchers sacked. SNP MP Neale Hanvey was dismissed from his frontbench role after he backed a campaign to sue a parliamentary colleague last night.


The Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath MP lost his role as vaccine spokesman after posting a message on a crowdfunding page raising money to bring a defamation action against Aberdeen North MP Kirsty Blackman and others.

A screenshot posted on social media showed Mr Hanvey posted “speak clear and stay strong” on the page.

Joanna Cherry was also stripped of her role as the SNP’s justice and home affairs spokeswoman at Westminster.

She was seen by many as being close to former leader Alex Salmond and regularly clashed with party leadership over key policies.

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The MP hit back on Friday and described the SNP leadership as “Stalinist”.

Kevin Pringle, former strategic communications director for the SNP, condemned the sacking of Ms Cherry, who was an advocate of a Plan B to independence.

The former party chief spin-doctor didn’t think it was “right or credible for Cherry to have gone from hero to zero”.

He added: “I don’t think it’s right or credible for Cherry to have gone from hero to zero — at least in terms of the SNP’s front bench — in less than a year and a half.

“As one of the SNP’s best-known figures, Cherry’s ousting displayed the party’s divisions UK-wide, and needlessly generated hostile headlines.”

In his weekly Sunday Times of Scotland column, Mr Pringle claimed the coverage the SNP were getting didn’t “have the look or feel of a party that is heading for an independence majority in May.”

He said: “Despite overblown rhetoric by some pro-Union voices, Scotland isn’t a one-party state: we have five-party politics at Holyrood.

“The current dominance of the SNP was extremely hard-won, building on the work of many years, and should always be regarded as fragile.”

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Douglas Ross, Scottish Conservative leader, added of Neale Hanvey: “Given Neale Hanvey’s own chequered history there were many eyebrows raised at his appointment on the SNP’s conduct committee.

“To blatantly endorse a lawsuit like this demonstrates how riven and petty the SNP are.

“They were once renowned for their internal discipline but the infighting is intensifying by the day.”

A senior SNP party source told this week had been “one of chaos” for the party.

“The sackings were bitter”, they admitted.

In response, Scotland’s Constitution Secretary Michael Russell pleaded for unity amid signs the party were set for a landslide victory in the upcoming Holyrood elections.

Mr Russell said the party hit a “low point” on Monday after the sacking of Joanna Cherry and admitted independence would only happen if everyone works to secure a majority in the Holyrood election.

He added today: “The next Parliament is the one that can make independence happen, but only if for every one of the next 88 days we work together to achieve the majority we must have.”

An SNP spokesman said: “Neale Hanvey was given the opportunity to apologise for his actions, which are incompatible with the responsibilities of a frontbench spokesperson, including the requirement for teamwork and collective responsibility.

“He failed to do so and he has been removed from his position.”

They added of Ms Cherry: “Joanna Cherry was removed from the front bench because of unacceptable behaviour, which did not meet the standards expected of a front bench spokesperson, not because of the views she holds.”

Mr Hanvey was previously suspended by the SNP for using anti-Semitic language on social media, he apologised for any offence caused in the days following his suspension.

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