5 May 2015

What is the SNP doing to stamp out its problem fringe element?

So the wrecked Buchanan St Labour event yesterday continues to reverberate.

Yesterday in this blog, and on TV last night, this correspondent suggested it was time the SNP named and shamed its extremist fringe. Today it did.

Both Piers Doughty Brown and James Scott were suspended from the party. Both were centrally involved in shouting down the Jim Murphy/Eddie Izzard campaign event yesterday in Buchanan St in Glasgow.

This was getting serious for the party at a crucial campaign stage. Yesterday Nicola Sturgeon said to me yesterday – on camera – that the events in Glasgow were appalling and she condemned them.

But she also said they had “nothing to do” with the SNP. Is that contradicted by her own party’s statement?

The SNP also knew that Channel 4 News had been handed a dossier of photos linking men like Doughty Brown and Scott to the SNP. They had to act.


Jim Murphy and Eddie Izzard in Glasgow’s Buchanan Street

Sustained campaign

The question is why it took them so very long. Doughty Brown, for example, had been involved a sustained and well-documented campaign against Labour candidate Margaret Curran in Glasgow.

On and on it went, well beyond the acceptable norms of reasonable and legitimate protest – the SNP did not suspend him.

As well as today’s commendable action by the SNP, in the interests of democracy many Labour supporters would claim they owe Margaret Curran an apology for failing to act until today and an undertaking to work with the party to keep Doughty Brown within the limits of legitimate protest, I would suggest.

Undesirable element

For now, though, the cat is out of the bag. The SNP has a problem fringe element which is tiny, unrepresentative of the wider support the polls are showing, obviously – but undemocratic.

They’ve made a belated start to stamp it out – but could they do more?

Doughty Brown told me: “The party did exactly what they should do pending an investigation” by suspending him. “The SNP have set an example for all parties in suspending me.”

I have no contact information for James Scott – but if he’d like to put his side of the story to me, I’d welcome it.

And yes, I hear the complaint that Scottish Labour may also have their undesirable element too. One would hope their collars are also being felt tonight.

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