Former SNP deputy leader donated £2,000 to Scottish Labour during 2021 Holyrood election

A major figure in the pro-independence movement and former deputy leader of the SNP donated £2,000 to Scottish Labour to see one of Nicola Sturgeon’s fiercest critics re-elected to Holyrood.

Jim Sillars, who served as deputy leader under former first minister Alex Salmond, but has been a fierce critic of the leadership of Nicola Sturgeon, donated the money to the local party of Scottish Labour’s deputy leader Jackie Baillie.

Speaking to the Daily Record, Mr Sillars said the MSP for Dumbarton was a “very impressive member of Parliament” and that he was concerned about the prospect of someone with “considerable ability” not being re-elected.

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Nicola Sturgeon, Alex Salmond and Jim Sillars campaign in 2014

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The Dumbarton seat was one of the SNP’s main targets during the 2021 Holyrood election and was won by Ms Baillie by almost 1,500 votes, denying the SNP of a majority in the Scottish Parliament.

The Labour MSP has represented the seat since the dawn of devolution in 1999.

Figures from the Electoral Commission show Mr Sillars made two donations of £1,000 to Ms Baillie’s local constituency, saying that if that was the difference between an SNP majority and not; “if that was a consequence of it, so be it”.

Mr Sillars also praised the performance of Ms Baillie during the bitter Holyrood inquiry into the botched handling of harassment complaints made against Mr Salmond.

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He said: “She was a stand-out on that committee. I would prefer her in the Parliament to a clone on the backbenches.

“I don’t think there is any doubt she is an asset to the Parliament. My concern, in donating to Jackie Baillie, was to have a very able person in Parliament.

"I didn't want someone with considerable ability to disappear."

Mr Sillars said he had “never left” the SNP and had “paid my membership dues” when asked if he was still a member of the party.

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