The Scottish National Party (SNP) is in the midst of a political crisis, following the arrest of party chief executive Peter Murrell, who is also the husband of former party leader Nicola Sturgeon. Murrell was taken into custody in connection with £600,000 of donations that may or may not have been used for day-to-day party expenses. The police have been tight-lipped about the investigation, but reports suggest that forensic teams have been searching Murrell’s home and his 90-year-old mother’s home, where a £100,000 motorhome was seized. The SNP treasurer and MSP Colin Beattie was also arrested but later released without charge.
The crisis has cast a shadow over the SNP’s new leader, Humza Yousaf, who was elected to replace Sturgeon. Yousaf has been criticised for his handling of the situation, with some MSPs reportedly considering rerunning the leadership election to ensure that Kate Forbes wins. Yousaf’s 90-second press conference before his state of the nation address in Holyrood was described as a “car crash” by some observers. He refused to comment on the ongoing police investigation and appeared nervous and on edge. Yousaf has also been accused of making a bad situation worse and failing to provide a clear direction for the party.
The crisis has also attracted criticism from other political parties, with both the Tories and Labour accusing the SNP of becoming mired in sleaze and criminal investigations. The SNP has denied any wrongdoing and has insisted that the party is not operating in a criminal way. However, the crisis has raised questions about the SNP’s financial management and has damaged the party’s reputation.
Meanwhile, in Westminster, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been criticised for his lack of action. Sunak has been reannouncing the announcement on zombie-style knives for the fifth time and has been accused of doing as little as possible. The biggest distraction has been Nadine Dorries’ new column for the Daily Mail, which has been described as dull. The Mail will be hoping to get more for their £100k than this, but it remains to be seen whether Dorries has more to say in the coming weeks.