In further evidence of the First Minister’s declining grasp of the big picture, he has just offered an unnecessary and fat hostage to fortune in an attacking letter he has written to the CEO of Aberdeen City Council.
Mr Salmond’s letter is quoted as saying: ‘I have been first minister for over six years. During that time I have dealt with all 32 local authorities, of all political persuasions and none.
‘No other council behaves in the extreme manner of Aberdeen City Council over a range of issues.
‘I would suggest that the majority group are now in danger of bringing the council into total disrepute with the knock on reputational risks that that has for the great city of Aberdeen and its fine people.’
It would in fact be hard to find a local authority that ‘behaves in the extreme manner’ of the SNP-led Argyll and Bute.
We have seen a party group elected to lead local government here – and then bullied into serial changes of leadership by external and senior party figures focused, by whatever means, on getting their own party out of the power they had fought the local elections to gain – just over a year ago.
We have witnessed the local SNP party group in the council riven by the pressure of this external intervention: breaking into factions, with members in mass suspension by their party hierarchy and losing some by resignation.
We have even had hard written evidence [published here] of the local SNP Constituency Chair instructing SNP councillors to vote against their own local leadership.
SNP councillors have also been given dispensation to join groups other than the SNP group – and some have done so.
The irony is that in this mad scenario the ‘renegade’ group the party is working to isolate is of SNP councillors who feel strongly that they have a duty to their electorate to deliver on local governance and have been fighting to resist all the party has thrown at them to force them to walk our of power.
This bizarre and dysfunctional situation in Argyl and Bute has been wholly generated from without, by a party hierarchy anxious to avoid at all costs any loss to the September 2014 independence vote from having to take unpopular decisions in local government.
In this case the cost paid has been the profound destruction of party credibility in local government in Argyll,
This situation – which has reasonably made the area the butt of comedy in the national media – has attracted the concerned attention of Audit Scotland.
The Commissioners have recently spent a period of residence in Argyll and Bute Council’s HQ, observing meetings of various kinds, interviewing officers and elected members. They are to report on their conclusions in September.
We are unaware of Aberdeen City Council being in receipt of any like treatment by the national media; and we can find no suggestion that Audit Scotland have any interest in Aberdeen comparable with their concerns over Argyll and Bute.
This would suggest that the manner of the SNP’s ‘political leadership’ in Argyll and Bute is even more ‘extreme’ than whatever it is that has provoked this astonishing outburst aimed at Aberdeen by a nervy First Minister.
The First Minister is talking of reputational risks’ to Aberdeen City.
He should look at the reputational tsunami his own party has swept over Argyll and Bute and which has torn itself from its roots.
‘And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?’