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by Louise Wilson
03 May 2023
Douglas Ross: ‘Serious questions to be answered’ on SNP governance

Douglas Ross: ‘Serious questions to be answered’ on SNP governance

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross has urged First Minister Humza Yousaf to make a statement to parliament on the SNP’s governance.

A police investigation is currently underway into the SNP’s finances and funding which has so far led to the arrests of former chief executive Peter Murrell and former treasurer Colin Beattie. Both men were released without charge.

Ross said there were “serious questions to be answered” by the SNP leadership on the matter, while he went on to criticise a lack of openness and transparency within the Scottish Government too.

But parliamentary business minister George Adam said the government was “fully committed” to openness and transparency.

MSPs voted to amend Ross's motion to remove reference to the SNP's internal struggles by 67 votes to 48. The final motion, as amended, passed by the same margin.

In his opening speech, Ross said: “Today marks 16 years since the SNP were elected into government and during that time we have seen secrecy, spin and cover-ups from the heart of government. Today is an opportunity for SNP members to say enough is enough, it has been happening for too long.”

In response, Adam accused the Scottish Conservative of “absolutely hypocrisy”, highlighting the party has refused to publish its membership numbers.

On the question of the SNP’s internal issues, he said the party was “dealing” with it. He added: “The First Minister, within days of his election as leader, announced an urgent review of internal party governance.”

And on the matter of transparency in government, Adam said: “As our amendment makes clear, this government places a great importance on openness and transparency. We are fully committed to meeting the standards the public rightly expects of us being an open government.”

Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie said the “scandal” surrounding the SNP was a “complete distraction from focusing on the people’s priorities”.

She accused the SNP of “treating this parliament and the public with contempt”, adding: “The culture that pervades the SNP as a party pervades the SNP-led Scottish Government too. They are inextricably linked.”

And Scottish Lib Dem MSP Willie Rennie said the SNP has been using public money to boost their public impact. He said: “No wonder people have had enough, when this SNP govt spaff their money up against the wall when the country and the people count every single penny.”

He also accused the Conservatives of bringing politics more generally into disrepute. He said: “The Conservatives have got a nerve to talk about standards. No party has done more to damage faith in politics than the Conservatives.”

Green MSP Ross Greer said the debate had been motivated by “partisan opportunism”. He added: “If the Conservatives are interested in good party governance, they really need to look much, much closer to home.”

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