It has been extraordinary, particularly in the last seven years since Nicola Sturgeon became First Minister, that journalists have evinced no curiosity about the man who created the SNP’s modern organisation and modus operandi. We have been fed only minimal information about him: he was educated in Edinburgh and Glasgow, worked for Alex Salmond in his Banff and Buchan constituency office, became SNP CEO in 1999 and married Ms Sturgeon in 2010. And that is pretty much all.
One might have expected the man credited with the SNP’s breakthrough election victory in 2007 to have evoked media interest. We know nothing about his role in the 2014 referendum, yet he must have played a central part in it. But, by whatever means, Murrell has kept his personal and even his career details close to his chest. His Wikipedia entry is mostly focused on the last few years, when stirrings about his role and methods began to be criticised by some in the nationalist camp, particularly over the missing £600,000 collected from SNP devotees since 2017 to finance a new referendum campaign that hasn’t happened and shows no sign of happening.
Now that he is leaving his crucial role in the ruling party, perhaps some enterprising soul will write a biography of the man who has done so much to mould Scotland into the country it is today – and not for the better.
Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh
Nest of vipers
I have always felt anger towards the SNP just for what they would do to our Scotland, removing us from the most successful union in history to satisfy their fantasy. Now, with the full extent of their monumental inadequacies and bitter internal conflicts exposed, that anger is only increased.
It is now evident beyond any doubt that this party has been a veritable nest of carefully restrained vipers and, with those vipers let loose, it is abundantly clear that there is only one single policy they can agree on.
They were prepared to set out on the path to their fantasy world in the clear knowledge that, amongst all the huge problems of separation, they would, more than likely, be consumed by their own internal fighting. With the stakes so high, how could they be so irresponsible and selfish, particularly to the vast numbers not in agreement with them.
Never, at any time, did any of them have the common decency to show the non-believers anything like a credible plan for changing all our lives so dramatically and probably irreversibly. Beyond all that they failed to recognise and accept a big factor in their 2014 loss was the failure to provide that plan and then to work to rectify that.
Having got so relatively close to their target, I do believe their arrogance and lack of savvy combined to persuade them they could push on and achieve their goal without putting in the hard work. They treated us with disdain and now deserve all the anger and humiliation being heaped on them.
Further, I sincerely hope that, when the history of Sturgeon’s leadership is written, she is clearly and properly identified as one of the worst party leaders ever. She has to be judged on “What did she achieve? What did she leave?”
Ian Hogg, Melrose, Scottish Borders
There is something quite fitting, perhaps epitomising the outgoing First Minister’s entire time in office, in her refusing to appear before the Scottish Affairs Committee on 20 March. She claimed her “diary was full”. She was instead appearing on ITV lunchtime chat show Loose Women, where she appeared infinitely happier with the powder puff questioning than she would ever have been when answering a Westminster committee, even under an SNP chair, where “I can’t recall” and talk of baby boxes does not quite suffice. Most people would think her movie star salary and perks would ensure answering questions on the state of the country she is supposedly administering coming first.
If ever a breath of cleansing fresh air was needed at Holyrood, it is right now.
Alexander McKay, Edinburgh
Fascinating to see our First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had enough time to be clowning around on Loose Women instead of such fripperies as running Scotland, fixing the ferries fiasco, fixing the health service, etc.Clearly she has gone demob crazy on top of expecting to be still paid for a job she's no longer bothering to do. How else can one explain her calling losing 30,000 SNP members in a few months a “growing pain”?
Mark Boyle, Johnstone, Renfrewshire
Legacy of trash
Those voting to provide the new leader of the SNP and First Minister should pay close attention to the battle cry of Humza Yousaf. He wants to be the “continuity candidate”, wishing to carry on the “phenomenal legacy” of Nicola Sturgeon’s regime. Well, the events of the last week should alert even the most staunch SNP supporter to the hugely unacceptable, duplicitous, suspect “government” foisted on Scotland since 2007 and a continuation of this is not acceptable.
Nicola Sturgeon has trashed Scotland and now we see she and her husband have trashed the SNP. The lying, the deceit, the incompetence is there for all to see and they have the temerity to criticise the Conservative Party. Nicola Sturgeon makes Boris Johnson look like a saint.
If Scotland must have a nationalist government at this time – and I am no supporter – surely Kate Forbes is the only option. She appears to be honest, gracious and principled and what the SNP desperately needs at this juncture.
Douglas Cowe, Newmachar, Aberdeenshire
Eyes wide shut
Nicola Sturgeon’s farewell appearances this week mask a legacy, under her leadership, of poor public services and little travel along the rocky road to independence. Her latest denial that there is no turmoil within the SNP doesn't square with the evidence that is coming from her colleagues and is apparent to everyone except the dyed-in-the wool nationalists. When Arlene Foster ceased being the First Minister of Northern Ireland she was awarded a Damehood. I hope the same doesn't happen to Nicola Sturgeon as she frankly doesn't deserve it.
Bob MacDougall, Oxhill, Stirlingshire
Worse to come
Nicola Sturgeon says the SNP is not in a mess when it is obvious to everyone in Scotland that it is in a total shambles.
The truth is that the chronic problems and tawdry scandals have been stacking up for many years for the current Scottish Government. Nicola Sturgeon had just hoped it would not be too obvious what a mess she was leaving behind before she handed over.
While the SNP’s own leadership contest has brought some issues to the fore, there is much worse to come for whoever does step into the First Minister role. More than a decade of misguided priorities and ineffective governance has left Scotland in a parlous state. From waiting times in the NHS to the missing ferries, from the attainment gap in education to botched social and environmental policies. An entire edition of this newspaper could be filled with a review of all the things under this Scottish Government’s control that are going wrong and are being left for Nicola Sturgeon’s successor to try to sort out. No wonder the more experienced potential candidates took two quick steps backwards when offered the chance to take it on.
Keith Howell, West Linton, Scottish Borders
If a man shouted and screamed outside his partner or his ex’s home in the middle of the night and woke the whole street, we would consider him selfish and unreasonable. His neighbours would rightly think that he should have thought about the effect of his behaviour on them, before he opened his mouth. They might very well make their feelings known to him.
Why then, when it is not just one person, nor just one night’s disruption, but thousands of people causing disruption to the entire nation for weeks or months by striking, are they not called out for their selfish and unreasonable behaviour? For example, by striking for five weeks the passport workers will prevent many people travelling abroad for business or foreign holidays they have worked hard to afford. They will risk the jobs of workers in the travel industry. They will likely cause some businesses to fail. More fundamentally, they will interfere with the rights of British citizens to leave and re-enter the country as they please.
Striking belongs in the past, not the 21st century.
Otto Inglis, Crossgates, Fife
I have been inside Dounreay and Sellafield, and stood a few feet away from radioactive nuclear waste, and lived to tell the tale. I do not share Frances McKie's hyperbolical characterisation of events at Dounreay as “appalling incidents” costing a “terrible price” (Letters, 20 March).
There is a paradox. Coal mining waste did cause an “appalling incident” at Aberfan where 28 residents and 116 schoolchildren payed a “terrible price”, but not a single person has ever had a condition caused by nuclear waste written on their death certificate.
Yet we worry far more about the latter despite the very long list of harms associated with the extraction of fossil fuels, never mind the greenhouse effect occasioned by their combustion.
I do not write at the behest of the nuclear industry, but as a scientist who has used radioactive isotopes produced in nuclear reactors in his virological research, and who was living in Aberdeen at the time of the Piper Alpha disaster.
Hugh Pennington, Aberdeen