Sturgeon-Salmond saga: What next for Scotland? – BBC Newsnight

last thursday the parliamentary inquiry met here at hollyrood in private and decided by a majority of five to four on party lines that nicola sturgeon misled parliament within minutes that decision had been leaked in what looked like an attempt to generate headlines damaging to the first minister it was the latest chapter in an inquiry that's become tainted by a culture of unattributable leaks and bitter partisan infighting james hamilton's inquiry running in parallel is not tainted in this way it was never going to be possible to bat his findings away as politically motivated and that's part of what made this inquiry so much more dangerous for nicolas sturgeon its job was to determine whether she had broken the ministerial code normally a resigning matter it found she had not i am not aware james hamilton concluded of anything in the conduct of the first minister in respect of the introduction of or her observance of the procedure which could be considered to be a breach of the code the outcome is that nicola sturgeon will lead the snp into scotland's parliamentary elections on may the 6th i have been at peace with my own conscience on all of these matters i have been very clear in my own mind that i acted appropriately and did not reach the ministerial code but that while that might be necessary is not sufficient it's important to the scottish people that they have independent verification and adjudication of that and that of course is what they now have but there is little doubt that an affair that began with allegations of sexual misconduct by a powerful man has had the effect of damaging a female head of government who had been enjoying unusually high levels of public trust and approval there is a special anguish in this for long-term campaigners for independence the bitter feud between the two outstanding figures in scottish politics gathered momentum at a time when support for independence had been surging to new highs sustained over many months it's now fallen back a few weeks ago polls were showing that 55 were planning to vote for the snp in the constituency vote in may that would have given them an overall majority that too has dipped back into the 40s that's still landslide territory with labor and the conservatives each in the low 20s but crucially it could deny the snp the overall majority they seek the pro-union parties would present that as evidence of falling support for a second independence referendum it might strengthen westminster's hand in withholding permission but the scottish government has today announced its intention to bypass a westminster block it published a draft bill that would authorize a referendum without westminster's approval that is not nicola sturgeon's preferred option she believes a referendum like that would lack legitimacy especially overseas what the snp seemed to be hoping for is that it would bounce the uk government into going to court to declare the referendum illegal not a comfortable thing for boris johnson whose supporters so recently accused the courts of obstructing the will of the people over brexit the conservatives say they'll press ahead with a vote of no confidence in nicola sturgeon tomorrow evening with the support of the greens she should survive this easily what we've seen over the last weeks and months is this whole issue being turned into a piece of third-rate political theater and now the conservatives have realized they don't get to write the last act the whole affair has exposed weaknesses in the governance of scotland that will have to be addressed but the pro-union parties must now make a judgment about how much further they want to press nicola sturgeon's personal culpability how far can they go without appearing to pursue a personal vendetta rather than seeking genuine reform or definitive answers and how closely should labour stand with the conservatives on this they stood shoulder to shoulder throughout the 2014 referendum campaign it saved the union but what a price they paid labour's 50-year domination of scottish politics vanished as swathes of the traditional base switched to the independence cause and so far have never come back alan little there joining us now the leader of the scottish conservative douglas ross the snp shadow culture secretary john nicholson and labour's leader in scotland and asawa and alan um certainly raised a lot of longer-term questions there but if we can just take you back to today douglas i'm going to start with you you said you tweeted out i think you respect the judgment of uh miss hamilton but you say the report doesn't change the overwhelming evidence that nicolas sturgeon misled parliament how does that work because james hamilton's report also says it's for msps to determine if nicola sturgeon misled parliament and as your report outlined there is a report due to be published tomorrow which we understand will say that nicholas surgeon has misled parliament and that is a serious accusation and if that is the case nicholas sergeant said she would respect the outcome of both the hamilton inquiry and the scottish parliament committee inquiry and therefore nicolas sergeant will have to accept that recommendation if it is the result mother that she misled parliament you know very well that scottish parliament will divide down party lines and that last week there was already a leak that came out before msps had even finished the vote so no wonder uh she is suspicious of it being an even-handed uh report are you saying then you you don't have confidence in james hamilton do you do you trust what he's done today we'll just go back to the point about the committee in terms of party lines it is a committee with a pro-independence majority and while the conservatives labor and liberal democrats we understand it voted for that key that lying that nicholas sergeant misled parliament so did an independent msp and someone who was elected as agreement just go back to the question i asked you which was whether you trust james hamilton are you rejecting his findings or do you accept them as i say we respect the outcomes and the findings of jesus respect or accept we respect the findings of james hamilton but i think james hamilton would also accept that people could look at the same evidence and reach a different conclusion that is the nature of looking at evidence and coming to a conclusion but at the heart of this we still think that women have been so badly let down by this whole episode what you entirely spend half a million pounds of taxpayers money on this field legal bid and there has been a a lack of truthfulness from the first minister in the scottish government that's why i'm asking you if you're choosing your own truth i that you trust the independent inquiry led by james hamilton or else you don't and you still bring a vote of no confidence are you still bringing that vote and no confidence yes because that independent adviser to the scottish government said it's up to msps to determine if michael's surgeon misled parliament and that's what msps can determine tomorrow with the vote of no confidence that the scottish conservatives are bringing forward uh john nicholson would you accept that this has left a stain on the smp that nicola sturgeon herself uh admitted in past two dreadful catastrophic mistakes that let women down well she said that she's been very open about saying that she's apologized to the woman concerned there have been mistakes but douglas is really rickling and uncomfortable because he put a lot of faith in mr hamilton's report he hoped of course that he would find nicolas sturgeon guilty of the things of which he was accused and what has happened today is that the independent adjudication uh by mr hamilton has cleared nicholas sturgeon completely on every single allegation she's found not to have misled parliament and not to breach the ministerial code it's a tough and difficult moment for the tories and for them to continue with this mush of no confidence is deeply ungracious do you accept that whatever your party does next there will always be a sense of internal battle lines drawn in voters minds now there is a sense of factionalism and division no i don't uh one of the interesting things we've seen over the last couple of weeks is the big surge in membership for the snp i think a lot of people especially women looked at the way that the parliamentary committee which you mentioned conducted itself and really found it rather distasteful splitting along party lines as you say the fact that nicholas sturgeon as a woman was asked to apologize for a man's bad behavior by murder fraser the tory msp the same word fraser who didn't ask alex salmond to apologize for his own bad behavior the committee has been completely discredited by the way it's behaved and it's constant leaking which has led women down and the women concerned have said that they feel betrayed by it well the women have been let down by the way that that investigation that inquiry was initially conducted so you can't just blame the other parties or the committee for the way they responded to that i'm not i've said very clearly that the process let the women down nicolas sturgeon has apologized for that but once the committee it was a harassment it is a harassment committee began its work the one thing that the women concerned should have been able to expect is when they gave private testimony to that committee that that would be kept confidential and what the committee did was leak that to the sunday times and the women concerned say this has led to further distress that's how they've described their experience and they've said they felt bullied let me bring in an assault labor's position um it is a curious one here will you accept the results um that james hamilton has provided today or will you follow the tories down a vote of no confidence what will you do i accept the findings of the hamilton inquiry we've made clear throughout the time i've been leader that we're not going to prejudge those inquiries the first minister deserved due process that's why she had the opportunity to answer questions you deserve to have the publication of the two incredible reports i think what's deeply unfortunate is there's two things one that douglas ross was calling for nicolas charge's resignation and a vote of no confidence before she'd even given evidence to the committee it which just slapped of a political game playing and on the other hand we've got you know the snp portraying this as some kind of recruiting agent as if it's some kind of campaign tool the reality here is that we've had serious allegations made against the first minister you've had a harassment policy that has failed two women we still don't know whether that harassment policy will pass the court of test and therefore giving confidence to women to come forward we haven't had clear answers on why we had the wasting of public money from what you're saying then um you will not be backing the conservatives you will be voting for nicola sturgeon when that comes tomorrow is that right well there's a couple of things one is there's the hamilton inquiry report there's a committee of reports i'm just asking about the vote of no confidence if that goes ahead where do the labour party stand well to be honest the vote no is inconsequential we already know the greens and the sm people will not support the vote under confidence well it's not inconsequential if they call it this is going to be this is going to be more a political ding-dong to do with the election called by by the tories which actually fails to recognize what are the real issues here right so will you dig or will you don what does labour do what's your vote doing i'm just trying to understand that we'll consider what the committee shows tomorrow but what i think what we have here is a government has made some serious failures and mistakes and an opposition in the tories are letting down scotland too i think both i think scotland deserves a better government and a better opposition why douglas would you bother to hold the vote of no confidence if you do trust and respect what james hamilton has written today because in james hamilton's own writing he's saying it's up to msps to determine if nicolas sturgeon has mislead them and misled parliament and therefore if msps as is reported have found in this committee inquiry that nicholas sturgeon has misled the parliament then it's right parliament has the opportunity to vote on the motion of no confidence in the first minister so the implication of that is whatever he'd said today was irrelevant to um what the conservatives would do next then because you're going on as if none of that matters right no because i'm reading the exact wording from the hamilton report the hamilton report that states it's for msps to determine if nicola sturgeon has misled parliament and that's what the committee which nicholas sturgeon's government set up made the remit the membership and the snp convenership of it agreed they would look into and if that committee finds that nicholas sergeant has misled parliament and nicholas sturgeon herself has called for former ministers of the scottish government to resign for far less than that when she was in opposition do you understand that john nicholson do you understand why that loophole has been left open um for james hamilton to say it is down to msps to decide it's almost as if douglas ross hasn't read the report he's talking as if we're still to hear from uh mr hamilton we've heard from him his exact words where i'm of the opinion that the fm did not reach the provisions of the ministerial code he has ruled douglas it's time to let it go and for ana sarwar to be saying he's waiting with baited breath to find out exactly what's going to happen when the committee report is published tomorrow he must be the only person in the country who doesn't know what's in the committee report because his colleagues in the committee have been leaking like there's no tomorrow everybody knows what's in the committee report and it's entirely partisan do you want to come back on that one it's absolutely nonsense what what you are doing directly there john it's a deliberate tactic is to call into question any committee in quagga that's happened at neither westminster or the scottish parliament by calling into question the reputation of individual members i could flip the point honestly i could put the coin i could flip the coin and say that the four smp msps never went to the committee to look at it independently i'm not saying that because it was ludicrous what the inquiry was looking at is a remit much wider than the hamilton inquiry the hand of the crowd was looking at breaches of the ministry we're the point i was making emily sorry before mr nicholson was was really interrupting is that the committee inquiry was looking at things much greater in scope than the breaches of the ministerial code they were looking at the harassment policy in the round and what happened in the case these are serious issues and no one has yet taken responsibility for that we're going to end it then here's the actions thank you very much thank you to all three of you thank you

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