Crisis departure signals reset of SNP machine and end of power couple’s grip


There was only ever going to be one outcome as the SNP fought off the flames of crisis after crisis.

This is the week the party changed forever.

Peter Murrell has been in charge of the SNP since 1999 and arguably was pivotal in its strategy to become a political force in Scotland.

But in recent years he has lost his firm grip with many accusing him, and his wife Nicola Sturgeon, of running a secret operation where key decisions are made behind closed doors.

Mr Murrell’s sudden exit was entirely avoidable, though.

This week the embattled chief executive attempted to withhold the number of members voting in the leadership contest.

The three candidates vying to replace Ms Sturgeon were kept in the dark.

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It created a whiff of cover up and eventually led to the predictable U-turn with the figures being published showing members leaving in their droves.

But it was too late.

The saga had triggered cries of the election being rigged and the integrity being undermined.

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The final, fatal move under Mr Murrell’s watch was instructing his now-former head of communications to publicly discredit a newspaper report weeks ago where it correctly stated the SNP had suffered membership losses of 30,000.

This not only played straight into the hands of the opposition but gave the sense the party HQ was prepared to hide the full story from its own staffers.

For many years now members of the SNP have been saying it has been far from appropriate to have the party’s chief executive married to the party’s leader.

Alex Salmond, a fierce enemy of Mr Murrell and Ms Sturgeon, even warned it would one day lead to big problems.

That has now become the reality.

Mr Murrell’s departure signals a reset of the SNP machine.

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It allows whoever wins the leadership race to become first minister to have a pain-free restructure of the party’s head office in a way that would have been highly awkward if Mr Murrell had stayed.

Today marks a new chapter for Scotland’s biggest political party and marks the end of the duo who have dominated for so long.

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