When the Salmond story broke last August, I commented on the inappropriateness of Nicola Sturgeon being hawked around for interviews, to express “sadness” while bravely affirming the allegations could not be “swept under the carpet”.
Either Sturgeon was party to the process or she was not and, if not, then why should the possibility even arise of her sweeping anything under the carpet? As ever, the imperative lay in news management and polishing the First Minister’s shining armour.
That proved to be high risk for what Sturgeon omitted was that she had been in ongoing dialogue with her predecessor throughout the investigation – five conversations over four months when the only proper response must have been: “Go away. I can’t possibly talk about this.”
We still know nothing about the content of these discussions, the full dramatis personae or the interactions which ensued. In return for our £500,000 – squandered on the civil court case brought by Salmond – we are now entitled to access every dot, comma, conversation and email leading to this week’s debacle.
Continuing parliamentary interrogation is essential. On past form, I would be wary of “self-referral” to a panel with the immediate effect of kicking the whole thing into long grass. There are plenty questions which demand answering now, without prejudicing anything.
A fundamental problem with St Andrew’s House is that safeguards which should separate government, civil service and ruling party have long since been trampled down. Nobody understands that better than Salmond, since he was largely responsible and now finds himself on the other side of that fence.
While the irony might be entertaining, the malaise remains insidious.
For starters, this grubby affair confirms the dangers of government by cabal, built around the cult of an individual.