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by Louise Wilson
13 November 2023
SNP became ‘unthinking’ under Nicola Sturgeon’s ‘intolerant’ leadership, says Angus MacNeil

Photo by Louise Hayward Schiefer

SNP became ‘unthinking’ under Nicola Sturgeon’s ‘intolerant’ leadership, says Angus MacNeil

The SNP became “unthinking” under the “intolerant” leadership of Nicola Sturgeon, former SNP MP Angus MacNeil has said.

Speaking exclusively to Holyrood magazine, the independent MP accused members of his former party of being “sheep” who follow the direction of the “shepherd on high”.

He said: “Too many people in the SNP now take a line without thinking it through. The SNP has become very unthinking.”

“Sometimes the sheep I shepherd here at home [on Barra] show more of an independence of thought than the SNP… If more of my sheep were as compliant as some SNP politicians, being a shepherd would be a lot easier,” he added.

MacNeil was expelled from the party in August after refusing to retake the party whip.

The initial suspension followed a row with then chief whip Brendan O’Hara, but MacNeil said he did not want to rejoin the SNP group until it was “clear” the party was “pursuing independence”.

An internal conduct committee subsequently voted to remove him from the party entirely. He had represented the SNP in Na h-Eileanan an Iar since 2005 and intends to stand as an independent candidate in the next general election.

In a wide-ranging interview with Holyrood, the MP said he became “frustrated” with the “lack of action on independence” under former first minister and party leader Nicola Sturgeon, suggesting the party had adopted a “self-defeating attitude”.

On Sturgeon herself, he said: “I saw her becoming more and more intolerant of anyone else’s view or not being inclusive, then I saw this had a detrimental effect on our movement. There was no testing out of arguments with Nicola, which is why I think she was caught short on a number of things latterly.”

He added public opinion was turning against his former party and he feels he is “in a much better position, politically, not being in the SNP”.

He urged the party to “get serious about independence”.

As chair of Westminster’s Energy Security and Net Zero Committee, MacNeil also spoke about the opportunities for renewable energy in Scotland.

He said the UK Government “need to be reminded that Scotland is not a backyard” for it to use for energy purposes.

You can read the full interview with Angus MacNeil in the latest issue of Holyrood.

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