THE SNP’s youth movement was facing embarrassing claims of “bullying” and in-fighting last night after a leading member was first expelled and then reinstated after insisting that “heads must roll” in the “YesScotland” campaign.
• 62% voted against independence, while 38% voted for independence in Glasgow University referendum
• Youth convener says he was asked to resign
Kenny Murray, the vice-convenor of the SNP’s youth wing, Young Scots for Independence (YSI), took to Twitter last week to sharply criticise the campaign’s strategy.
It came after the campaign threw time and effort into the mock independence referendum campaign at Glasgow University, only to lose the vote.
It emerged yesterday that, after sending the tweets, Mr Murray was asked by YSI leaders to resign. In a statement seen by the Scotsman, he claimed “they were receiving pressure from senior members of the party” over his comments.
After refusing to quit , he was expelled on Monday by the YSI’s ‘internal affairs committee’ on the grounds that his criticism had contravened its constitution.
But amid farcical scenes yesterday, and with news of his expulsion on Twitter, the storm provoked YSI to issue a fresh statement to declare they had “reconsidered the matter and withdrawn Mr Murray’s expulsion”.
The SNP meanwhile categorically denied that party leaders had put pressure on YSI to force Mr Murray out.
The episode put the spotlight back on the events of last week when the YesScotland campaign had poured resources into the mock referendum held by Glasgow University. Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was among those who travelled to the campus to build support.
With a turn out of 10% of the student population, 62% voted against independence, while 38% voted for independence.
The result prompted Mr Murray to take to Twitter to lambast the campaigning tactics of YesScotland. “Heads must roll at YesScotland or wherever after that waste of resources/pr disaster,” he tweeted.
In another tweet, he added: “Said from start - mock elections are a daft waste of resources and can backfire headline wise.”
Those comments appear to have started an inquest within the independence movement.
In a statement passed to The Scotsman, Mr Murray is recorded declaring that he received a call on the Friday after the poll from Michael Dixon, the YSI’s treasurer in the aftermath of the poll.
“In this phone call he asked me to resign from the YSI and cause minimal fuss. He had stated that they were receiving pressure from senior members of the party over tweets I made about YesScotland and their strategy,” the statement reads.
A separate dispute Mr Murray had with SNP MSP Mark Mcdonald was also he mentioned, he claims in the statement.
However, Mr Murray refused to resign, insisting he had done nothing wrong. “I have worked well within the YSI and contributed as much as others and more than some,” he wrote back. “This has all been in the face of what most would consider bullying.”
Nonetheless, Mr Murray was then informed he had been suspended. He was then expelled by the YSI’s Internal Affairs Committee on Monday evening.
After the affair became public yesterday morning, the YSI quickly reversed the decision. In a tweet yesterday afternoon, it announced: “The Young Scots for Independence internal affairs committee has reconsidered this matter, and withdrawn Mr Murray’s expulsion.”
Sources close to Mr Murray were insistent last night that YSI has been put under pressure by the SNP press office on other issues. However, a spokesman for the SNP last night categorically denied that it had ordered Mr Murray’s expulsion.
A spokesman said: “This is a matter for Young Scots for Independence.”
A spokesman for YSI confirmed that Mr Murray had been asked to step down and that, having failed to do so, had then been expelled.
But he denied that Mr Murray had been “bullied”. He added: “There was no pressure at all from the SNP on this. He has now been reinstated and the matter has now been closed.”
The row comes with pressure growing in the pro-independence movement to try and close the gap on the pro-UK side in the run up to the 2014 referendum.