Nicola Sturgeon at risk after calls for leadership ‘revolt’ shake independence hopes

SNP 'won't get majority' in Scottish election says Jim Sillars

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The SNP were called on to “revolt” against the First Minister to dispose her of her role. It comes as Ms Sturgeon pushes the party in its final stretch towards Holyrood’s May elections. Many believe she will secure a majority in the ballot, which she would use as the mandate to hold a second independence referendum.

The BBC was today accused of undermining democracy after it confirmed it would continue to air Ms Sturgeon’s coronavirus briefings in the run-up to May. has previously been told that the First Minister has used the daily appearances to her advantage, with the coronavirus pandemic having helped the independence cause.

However, the past few months have not been without drama.

While Ms Sturgeon continues in her legal battle with her previous political ally and former First Minister Alex Salmond, discontent has surfaced elsewhere.

The party’s ex-deputy leader, Jim Sillars, who was a leading figure in the country’s independence movement, last month called for a coup to oust Ms Sturgeon.

He revealed in a blog post that he would not vote for the SNP in May, comparing his and many Scottish peoples’ dilemma akin to the struggle witnessed by lifelong Republicans who disliked Donald Trump in 2020.

More radically, however, Mr Sillars wrote: “Yes, time is short, but it has not run out. There needs to be a revolt and a change in leadership, a real sweeping change. The first action falls upon the NEC to demand and create the change.”

His comments came when the SNP seemed at a crisis point.

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The party’s influential Westminster MP, Joanna Cherry, had recently been sacked.

Shortly after, SNP MP Neale Hanvey was also sacked from the Westminster frontbencher.

Writing in the New Statesman, Ms Cherry suggested her dismissal came as the result of the party’s bitter dispute over Ms Sturgeon’s Gender Recognition Act.

She wrote: “The reasons for my sacking were not made clear but I was not surprised.


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“For some time a small but vocal cohort of my SNP colleagues has engaged in performative histrionics redolent of the Salem witch trials.

“The question – do you believe or have you ever believed that women are adult human females? – is one I must answer in the affirmative, but it’s not a response that is popular with some who have the ear of the leadership.”

Robert Johns, Professor in Politics at Essex University who is an investigator on the Scottish Election Study, told that Ms Sturgeon would continue to struggle to keep a lid on her Westminster party.

He said the SNP’s considerable presence – it has the most seats it can – made for an almost separate outfit to its mother party in Holyrood.

The fact has left Ms Sturgeon stretched between keeping her own house in order as well as maintaining a hold over a cohort hundreds of miles away.

He explained: “I think it’s the case that there is an element of senior opposition and disgruntlement in the party.

“It’s always complicated by the fact that the SNP have a Westminster Party and a Holyrood Party.

“The Holyrood Party tends to be on balance more loyal, whereas the Westminster Party has become more of a dissenting outfit – there are more dissenting voices there.”

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