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Missing a Cue

The SNP is Murrell's 'victim'?

Saturday, April 20, 2024
4 mins

Just to be clear...

by Rab Clark

Humza Yousaf is due to deliver a speech in Glasgow later today.

We hope his delivery is a bit sharper than it was yesterday.

(2) Sky News on X: "'Many people in the SNP will be shocked by the news.' Scotland's first minister, Humza Yousaf comments on ex-SNP chief executive Peter Murrell being charged in connection with the embezzlement of SNP funds. https://t.co/3OeCQ7S334 📺 Sky 501, Virgin 602, and YouTube https://t.co/30vz9u08rY" / X (twitter.com)

That link is the original Sky News clip and is not open for comments from 'normal' Twitter/X users.

Here's a transcript:

'Well these are serious serious developments. And as per the police statement we now know that an individual has been charged, Peter has been charged, where the allegation of embezzlement from party funds and that's a really serious matter indeed. Many people in the SNP, right across Scottish politics, will be shocked by the news. This is an ongoing investigation. Police, the Crown, have a job to do just as I have a job to do as First Minister, and that job of course is ensuring that I support business, that I help households throughout the cost of living crisis, that I help to cut waiting times in the NHS, that I advance the cause of independence and so that's the job you can imagine I'm focused on.'

Well, that's pretty much what you expect HY to say in the circumstances and he managed to squeeze in a few pre-election soundbites, mini-manifesto nibbles for the general audience.

But here's a clip which shows what happened next (from 55secs on):

(2) Connor Gillies on X: "NEW: First Minister @HumzaYousaf says former SNP CEO Peter Murrell being charged in connection with embezzlement is a “serious, serious development”. 📍Says he was not given heads up of developments before police made public announcements. 📍Describes “shock” in SNP. @SkyNews https://t.co/xhvGjCkP1J" / X (twitter.com)

Interviewer: 'This, as you say, is a serious charge and it's about stealing or embezzling money from your party. So I suppose, in this instance, that would appear the party is a victim.

HY: Well again, as per the police statement there is a very serious development, as per the police statement it's an allegation of embezzlement from the party, embezzlement of funds from the party, that's really serious indeed.

He's then asked when he first heard about Murrell's arrest, his membership status etc.

Aside from the curiously stilted delivery (which has sparked some lurid speculation we won't repeat), the mangled syntax and jarring repetitions, what's most striking is the interviewer's presentation of a 'line' to which HY seems oblivious.

'The party is a victim.'

This is stated as fact rather than posed as a question. It gives HY the opportunity to put further distance between his party and Murrell. But he misses it. He could've pursued the 'one bad apple' line and reinforced the idea that no-one in the wider party had any idea what was going on. But he didn't.

(Social media is already awash with archive clips showing Sturgeon and Mike Russell issuing sanguine reassurances that finances were all in order, that no funds were missing etc.)

It should also be noted that the interview was conducted in the relative safety of Bute House.

So, this very short interview tells us a lot, not only about Humza's current demeanour and performance under pressure, but it reveals the line that HY and other SNP ministers will be taking in the weeks and months ahead: Murrell had gone rogue, no-one knew anything about it, and the 'victim' of any criminality wasn't those who donated their cash to the 'ring-fenced' indyref2 fund. No - the victim here is a much-maligned SNP government which could never have imagined that one of its own, so trusted and admired as 'a proven winner', would ever stoop to such dastardly doings.

(2) Chris Rose on X: "Remember that Humza Yousaf previously responded to concerns about Peter Murrell with “he’s a proven winner and someone you want on your team”. Yesterday Peter was charged in connection with the embezzlement of funds from the SNP. Top judgement from Humza as ever. https://t.co/UIDkHdkSK5" / X (twitter.com)

Where did this 'victim' angle come from? Was it Humza's people or did the interviewer come up with it all by herself? Did Humza decide not to run with it or did he genuinely miss it?

More questions than answers. We've a feeling that he might be facing more, in much more testing circumstances, later today. If he shows up.

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