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Commentary and Press Roundup – March 2021

March has been an eventful month in Scottish politics. After trundling on for three years, the saga surrounding allegations of sexual assault against Alex Salmond and the Scottish Government’s procedural handling of these complaints finally entered its endgame. So much has happened since the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, appeared in front of the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints at the beginning of the month that it’s difficult to believe only four weeks have passed. She was later cleared of breaching the Ministerial Code by James Hamilton QC, but received criticism in the committee’s report. Despite the hopes of her more excitable opponents, the First Minister has lived to fight another day.

For his part, her predecessor Salmond subsequently launched a new pro-independence political party, Alba, to compete on regional lists at the upcoming Holyrood election. The former First Minister has taken a handful of elected SNP officials with him and claims to be aiming for an “independence supermajority” by racking up list seats. Can the comeback king do it again? If voters think the party is little more than a vehicle for Salmond it’s unlikely many will give it the time of day, but we’ll need to wait for the first opinion polls before making a judgement about its chances of success.

If a week is a long time in politics, a month is an eon. And we haven’t even mentioned the ongoing once-in-a-century pandemic or the tanker clogging the Suez Canal. The Scottish election campaign is officially underway and the countdown to May 6th has begun. That means the SES team are hard at work putting the final touches on the pre-election questionnaire and trying to make sense of what the relentless news of the last few weeks means for the election and beyond. To help you do that, here’s a selection of their articles, blog posts and media appearances over the last few weeks. We’ll publish these updates periodically and the whole collection can be found over on the Press page.

Authored Commentary

29th March – “Alba Party: Could Alex Salmond get seats in Holyrood?”, The Herald (Ailsa)

19th March – “Neverending stooshie: The Sturgeon and Salmond debacle”, Centre on Constitutional Change (Fraser)

17th March – “Scotland’s Four Tribes: An Interactive Story”, SES blog (Jac)

2nd March – “Long Read: Scotland’s Four Tribes”, SES blog (Fraser & Jac)

TV & Radio

29th March – Scotland Tonight, STV (Rob, appears from 01m18s)

28th March – Sunday Supplement, BBC Radio Wales (Ailsa, segment begins 16m20s)

28th March – The Sunday Show, BBC Radio Scotland (Ailsa, segment begins 1h31m44s)


27th March – “Why Scottish women are coming round to independence”, The Economist (Ailsa)

26th March – “Alex Salmond’s ‘popularity increasing’ as former Scottish First Minister launches party”, The Express (Rob)

7th March – “Postal voting ‘will not benefit’ any one party in Scotland”, The Scotsman (Chris C.)

3rd March – “Nicola Sturgeon no longer relevant to Scottish independence bid as ‘referendum inevitable'”, The Express (Rob)

28th February – “Anas Sarwar named Scottish Labour leader – but indyref2 is ‘elephant in the room'”, The National (Jac)