Nicola Sturgeon branded 'Stalin's wee sister' by former SNP deputy leader

Veteran nationalist Jim Sillars called on SNP members to 'take back the power of the party' in an open letter.

Nicola Sturgeon branded ‘Stalin’s wee sister’ by former SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars

Former SNP MP Jim Sillars has branded Nicola Sturgeon “Stalin’s wee sister” who ran a “leadership cult” in an excoriating attack on the former first minister.

Veteran nationalist Jim Sillars called on SNP members to “take back the power of the party” in an open letter in which he said the party’s General Election result had been a referendum on the Scottish Government.

The party’s seats in Westminster fell from 48 to nine at the General Election – its worst performance since 2010.

Sillars, who was deputy leader of the party between 1991 and 1992, criticised Sturgeon’s leadership and demanded the sacking of several cabinet ministers.

Former deputy leader of the SNP Jim SillarsAlba Party

He wrote: “July was inevitable given how the Sturgeon/Swinney era misled the movement, lost its common sense in government, promoted marginal issues as national priorities while the real priorities of the people such as education, housing, NHS, infrastructure, were notable only for the staggering level of incompetence with which they were dealt with.

“Whether the leadership has the grace to repent is of no matter. It is a busted flush. The people have no regard for them.”

Speaking about Sturgeon and her husband Peter Murrell, who was chief executive when she was leader, he continued: “You acquiesced in changes to the constitution which shifted all power to a leadership cult, with the party then run by Stalin’s wee sister: imposing a politburo of two exercising an iron grip on the organisation, and the annual conference. When you had doubts, you hid behind the mantra of Wheesht for Indy, letting error build on error.”

The SNP and Nicola Sturgeon have been contacted for comment.

Paris Gourtsoyannis
Insight Paris Gourtsoyannis Westminster correspondent

Jim Sillars, who served as SNP deputy leader in the early 1990s, has never been shy of offering advice to the nationalist leaders that followed. This time, his complaint was broader, against the whole SNP membership.

With three leaders in just over a year and a party mired in internal crisis, as well as a very public police investigation, there’s plenty of blame to go around in the SNP, and no shortage of people to share it.

The ousted SNP MP for Edinburgh South West, Joanna Cherry wasted no time in going on television after her defeat to say she was “ashamed” of her party.

Toni Giugliano, the SNP’s losing candidate in Falkirk, wasn’t one of them – in fact, the two have clashed publicly. But the day after the election, he complained about First Minister John Swinney’s defence of the former health secretary Michael Matheson, who resigned over the huge iPad roaming bill initially charged to the public purse.

The rantings of a few usual suspects? Well, sure – but if pressed, few in the SNP would disagree with the substance.

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