This is the biggest split I have ever seen in Scottish politics

The dispute between Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon is about personality and some in the SNP think it is about destruction.

This is the biggest split I have ever seen in Scottish politics STV News
Alex Salmond gave evidence to Holyrood committee on Friday.

Alex Salmond is one of the biggest figures in modern Scottish politics – he is the country’s longest-serving First Minister and led the SNP for 20 years.

Nicola Sturgeon served her political apprenticeship during his first term as leader and was his deputy for a decade before taking over as First Minister herself.

So this is the biggest split I have ever seen in Scottish politics.

The SNP split in the 1980s when the 79 Group including Alex Salmond was expelled – but that was about ideology and direction.

This is a much bigger split – it is about personality and some in the SNP think it is about destruction. They think Salmond is trying to bring the house down. He thinks it is about an attempt to destroy him.

Salmond finally had his say on Friday, giving evidence to the committee investigating the Government’s botched handling of sexual harassment complaints against him.

Among the key exchanges at the Holyrood committee, Salmond said the name of one of the original complainers was shared at the first meeting with Sturgeon – she denied that yesterday at FMQs.

The First Minister will face further questions on this when she is at the committee on Wednesday.

Salmond made it clear he felt there should have been resignations – specifically the Permanent Secretary, the Lord Advocate, and those who he believes were part of a malicious scheme against him including the SNP chief executive Peter Murrell.

He believes the First Minister has broken the ministerial code – that is the biggest threat to her through the independent investigation being led by former Irish director of public prosecutions James Hamilton.

Senior figures in Government admit privately that could force her to quit just before the Holyrood election – they don’t think it will. But there is still a doubt, to the extent that it’s difficult for the SNP to plan their election leaflets for example.

And we saw in that STV News/Ipsos MORI poll yesterday – this row might not have hit the SNP’s poll ratings, or boosted the opposition much so far, but more than a third of those questioned last week did say that it made them less favourable towards the SNP. So this week it’s a story breaking out of the political bubble.

And politically – everything is at stake here.

Sturgeon will be at this committee on Wednesday to tell her side of the story.

She says it’s her chance to set the record straight.