Disbarred 250

Upset and depressed after being barred from the SNP candidates’ register by the hierarchy for “lack of commitment to group discipline”.

I was asked at assessment whether, as part of a Westminster deal with another party, I would agree to vote for the bedroom tax if instructed by the Party. I replied “No.” End of SNP political career. Problem is, I really believed we were building a different kind of politics in Scotland. I also knew that a simple lie would get me in, but I couldn’t bring myself to utter it.

I had very, very strong support from ordinary members to be the candidate in Falkirk or in Airdrie, and had 17 requests to stand from other constituencies, several from branch meetings. I wonder what the SNP new membership will think of this?

I had intended to keep this a private grief if possible, but I was phoned at 8am this morning by the Scotsman, who had plainly been briefed in some detail from within the party hierarchy. I was also phoned by the Sunday Herald, who were coming from a different direction, having picked up a whiff of Tammany Hall about the SNP selection process in several constituencies.

In the interests of full openness, these are the complete communications I have been sent regarding my rejection as a candidate:

Thanks for coming along to the Assessment Day on 6 December and apologies for not being able to get back to you before now.
I’m afraid to say that the Panel did not feel able to recommend you for approval as a potential parliamentary candidate at this time. While you showed excellent qualities, you could not give a full commitment on group discipline issues, and for that reason the Panel could not recommend approval.
There is scope to appeal this decision, and if you wish to do so then contact my colleague Susan Ruddick – (email address deleted) – who will be able to put that process in train.
Best wishes
Ian McCann
Corporate Governance and Compliance Manager
Scottish National Party


Dear Craig,
Thank you for attending the Appeals Panel yesterday.
Unfortunately your Appeal was not upheld.
I wish you luck in your future endeavours.

That is it. I have asked for more detail of why I was refused, but been given none. All I have is “you could not give a full commitment on group discipline issues”, and the only question to which I gave an answer that could possibly be interpreted that way, was the one above on the bedroom tax. There was, incidentally, no corresponding question designed to test the loyalty of right wing people.

I should note that I was astonished by the hostility of the appeals board, chaired by Ian Hudghton MEP and flanked by two MSPs. They could not have been more personally unfriendly towards me if I were Jim Murphy: their demeanour was bullying. They were less pleasant to me than was Jack Straw or anybody in the Foreign Office when they were sacking me for blowing the whistle on extraordinary rendition and torture. It was a really weird exercise in which these highly taxpayer paid professional politicians attempted to twist every word I said to find an excuse to disqualify me. I found it a truly unpleasant experience.

My analysis is that those in the SNP who make a fat living out of it are terrified the energy of the Yes campaign may come to threaten their comfy position. I think there is an important debate here on how the 80% of the SNP who are new members can affect its existing gatekeeping structures. No new members were involved in deciding if I was a fit candidate, and the 1500 new members in each of Falkirk and Airdrie were denied any chance to vote for me as their preferred candidate.

This also makes a complete nonsense of the SNP’s much publicised move at the Perth conference to allow non-members to stand as SNP candidates in an “opening out” to the wider Yes campaign.

I do worry that the idea of Whitehall ministerial limousines in a coalition is of more interest to some in the SNP than independence. I also am really concerned that the SNP has become, like other parties, a source of lots of taxpayer-funded careers. A significant proportion of those that do pass the vetting process are Special Advisers or work in SNP MP’s, MSP’s or MEP’s offices. The SNP is developing its own “political class” which is the opposite of the citizen activism of the Yes campaign. It became clear to me that a lot of SNP insider thought around the selection process is not about furthering independence, but about jobs for the boys (and girls).

Every candidate for selection is allowed a 350 word statement including cv to be given to members with their ballot paper. This is the 350 word statement which I had submitted to HQ for distribution to SNP members in Falkirk, prior to my disqualification. It has never been distributed, but I would like every SNP member to read it. If you know one, send it to them:

My aim is to achieve Independence.  The Smith Commission shows we will never be given the control of our own economic resources required to achieve our aims of social justice, or to stimulate the economy, within the Union. 

I think we have to avoid the trap of managerialism – of being just another political party but a little more competent and fair.  We should maintain a firm thrust towards the goal of national freedom.

I will vote with the SNP group, but my voice within the party will be against any coalition agreement with Labour or Tories.

I want to defeat Labour, not sustain them. I want to end the Union, not to run it.

Within the SNP we must guard against success leading us to develop our own careerists. Professional politicians in Westminster have become a parasitic class with interchangeable beliefs, out for themselves. There are too many of them – Special Advisers, research assistants etc. The number of politicians paid for by the taxpayer has quadrupled in 30 years.

The best MPs contribute from a wide variety of life experience.

I want the dynamic citizen activism we saw in the Yes campaign to lead to a new kind of politics in Scotland. Bubbling up from ordinary folk. And I want that energy from the people to defeat the forces of the mainstream media and the unionists here in the coming election.

Together, we can do it.

If selected as our candidate I will immediately move my family home to Falkirk and begin campaigning. Once elected MP, my home will become my constituency office and open to all, and no MP will work harder for his constituents. No Scottish MP will have lower expenses. I shall regularly attend the Commons and speak in debate.

Craig Murray
Writer, Human Rights Activist.
Chairman, Atholl Energy Ltd
Rector, Dundee University 2007-10
Honorary Research Fellow, University of Lancaster School of Law 2006-10
British Ambassador Uzbekistan 2002-4
HM Diplomatic Service 1984-2005
MA 1st Class Hons Modern History

Declined LVO, OBE and CVO as a Scottish nationalist and republican

Maybe that statement is what really got me disqualified?

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250 thoughts on “Disbarred

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  • Ted

    Very sorry to hear that the SNP do not consider you to be MP material. Perhaps standing as a candidate for one of the other independence parties would be a better idea. Sounds as if the SNP have their Establishment stooges among them. Give this encounter with the SNP more publicity, just so that new members are really aware of how the SNP are run.

  • Monica Brooks

    Please don’t give up, there are alternatives. The Green Party would be one option, or you could be an Independent candidate and follow in the footsteps of the wonderful Margot MacDonald.

    All the best.

  • Richie

    I agree with Ted that you should give this more publicity. I also hope that you’ll appeal against their decision. If the SNP are turning into another establishment party, then that needs to be nipped in the bud ASAP. What hope have we got otherwise?

  • Michael

    It’s *party* politics. Perhaps you will now become an anarchist – anarchism has a considerable and considered tradition, because power corrupts. Those people (who reject & bully you, for example) are playing it just like a game. “When I knew it was wrong.. I pressed the buzzer” You and Russell Brand could make a good team 🙂

  • sean

    Interesting and worrying in equal measure, especially for a new member like me who has placed considerable trust in the SNP after detailed consideration as to whether the party can accommodate my socialist principles.
    I am going to a hustings debate in East Renfrewshire on Sunday – part of the process to select a candidate to go up against Jim Murphy. Following your post I now know what question I will ask each of the prospective candidates. It will be interesting to see how they respond to that same bedroom tax question in a public forum.

  • Kenny P

    Without being in full possesion of the facts from the SNP side, it’s hard to see how they came to this decision. And without all the facts, yours is a plausible – and depressing – explanation.
    There’s nothing like transparency to scare the powerful.

  • Clark

    Craig, typo, your fourth paragraph should surely read:

    …but I was phoned at 8am this morning by the Scotsman, who had plainly briefed the party hierarchy in some detail…

    …about what sort of things they’d start printing if you were selected.

  • Davie Hay

    It probably boils down to the fact that your not seen as a team player. This would make any party organisation wary of sporting the team colours – especially one confronted by a uniformly hostile media. I certainly don’t think it’s your response to the `Bedroom Tax` question or your statement but rather the entirety of your oeuvre that has disqualified you. You just don’t know when to button your lip.

    This, of course, is also your greatest strength and is the reason you ‘re far more valuable outside any tent, however far the canvas stretches. Your alacrity in unreservedly speaking truth to power is a rare joy in an increasingly anodyne mediascape.

    I’m glad they didn’t have a hobble that fitted you. In the long run I think you will be too

  • Clark

    Phil, there you go, you needn’t have worried; our Craig is just not evil enough for party politics. He’s no good at bashing the poor and he just can’t tell the right lies.

  • Sam Mclea

    I am disgusted to hear that the SNP have taken such a decision. The SNP seem to think that the most important thing is always “the party” and never about principles. They need to make clear to people if they will be demanding a referendum or not and including it in their manifesto. If they refuse, why should we be voting SNP simply to allow ALex Salmond to become deputy prime minister and prop up a Labour government?

  • wilma hughes

    If, as a new SNP member, I get a sniff of a coalition with Labour I will terminate my membership immediately. A coalition is NOT the way for Scotland. Like you I want independence, not to prop up these liars and betrayers of Labour principles. SNP better watch itself. The support the new members gave can be taken away, just as quickly.

  • ClaireD

    Disappointing. Decisions like this are exactly what has disengaged the electorate over the years. We want our elected representatives to vote the way WE think and hold moral values, not to just be puppets of a party machine.

  • Tony M

    You should have left the ‘Morag’ post up, there’s something just not quite right there. It’s not like you to back down from getting issues out there in the open, aired publicly, as the best, sometimes the only way of resolving them, with honesty, frankness and dialogue. If that posts removal was anticipatory of possible wrongful interpretation – by some – of it as party indiscipline, then it’s as well to have found out early that free expression, simply being yourself, does not sit well with some and is something they would rather was stifled. Clearly there has been from that individual source, possibly from others, a campaign to discredit you, but all it has done is utterly discredit those engaging in such behaviour and discredit places, websites with which that person or persons have become closely associated, principally Wings. I believe you do have a right to some sort of explanation from the managerial level of the party, but I don’t expect anything credible or truthful will be forthcoming. Don’t do anything hasty, leave that to others, if I were a member or joiner of things, I’d be looking to resign/quit, whilst still pursuing independence as an inalienable aim by every other means outside the tyranny of party politics. A parcel of rogues no doubt exist within the party too. It stands to reason the SNP is comprehensively penetrated. The truth will out.

  • Seumas McCue

    craig. While I agree with most of which you have written in your 350 word statement, it is also a statement that you were going to be too difficult to ever be held by any whip. After 2015 the SNP are going to have to be a disciplined party. This is political reality. Nasty but real. The question has to be where the 100,000 member SNP goes where the 25000 member one did not. It now gets difficult.

  • Angela L

    This is exactly why I had reservations about joining get and campaigning with a political party. I had thought the will for an independent Scotland would supercede my reservations but this is not acceptable. I do not wish to belong to a party that stifles individual values in the name of toeing a party line.


    I haven’t read all the posts above so apologize if I’m repeating someone else – but just want to say Craig Murray is an archetypal ‘loose cannon’ – a man with ideas and the courage of his convictions. It comes as no surprise to me that those inside the system are terrified of him and other men and women of his ilk.

    Standing as an independent candidate is probably the only way forward.

  • Ron Wilson

    Craig, I am shocked and dismayed. Your strong principles and willingness to stand up for what is right are exactly the attributes that the Yes movement – and to a large extent that is the SNP – ought to be encouraging.

    The powers at be need to get a grip on this. Now.

  • mary V

    I’m disappointed Craig, I for one would have voted for you. Having just joined SNP am now having second thoughts and will let them know. I agree with Davie Hay ‘re you not being team player and this needs to change to keep my vote AYE

  • Mary

    Very sorry to read this Craig but appreciate your openness.

    It is the SNP’s loss. the Scottish people’s and democracy’s. We would have all benefitted from hearing your voice in what passes for our parliament. It needs a big shake up.

  • Clark

    The SNP is between the devil and the deep blue sea. Many Scottish voters told me that they favour independence but aren’t keen on the SNP, so Scottish independence would begin the (probably rather rapid) decline of the party – probably as rapid as the growth of the party after the No vote.

    That is a good thing, not a bad thing, because the original objective of the SNP was to secure independence, and “mission accomplished, time to move on” would be an entirely appropriate response to independence. But probably some of the party hierarchy don’t see it that way at all…

  • Ishmael

    From reading above, Individually, i’d say it is fortune.

    Any group not allowing individual freedom is a corrupting influence. It seems to me the last thing we need are more people acting without self reflection, or not being able to act on it.

    Personally I think it’s nonsense people on the so called left, like Tariq, who say nothing can chance without explicit political organisation. On an individual level, you can become way more powerful than being part of a group that renders your own insignificant.

    You know that is not enough for some, they feel more important/significant, and that’s our problem.

  • Colin

    Craig, As a new SNP member, I was puzzled and disappointed when your name didn’t appear, as a potential candidate for my vote, which I had already decided on.

    I would suggest you give consideration to standing as an independent candidate for the Falkirk area, where I live, and let the people decide.

  • RenateJ

    I am very disappointed. Not a good end to the year. We need you in the Commons but with first past the post I can’t see how you could make it as an independent candidate. Unfortunately, I am not completely surprised. There is something about SNP that I cannot trust which has prevented me joining, which is illustrated by their refusal to enter into any Yes alliance for Westminster.

  • Peter A Bell

    Some people need to get themselves a bit of political maturity. We want a strong SNP contingent of MPs for a purpose. That purpose will not be achieved unless the SNP group at Westminster works as a team. Get a grip, folks, and realise that we will be fighting on the British state’s home turf and by their rules. Until we have an independent political system of our own, shaped by the standards to which we aspire and our experience of the British political system, we have no choice but to operate as a political party within the very system that we are trying to escape from.

    Discipline is not a dirty word. It is what makes collective action effective. A movement without internal discipline is just a rabble. And a rabble very rarely achieves anything.

  • Ishmael

    “But probably some of the party hierarchy don’t see it that way at all”

    Exactly, it’s a job/ career. Why would someone jeopardise there own fortune when it’s only a case of hurting people who don’t matter, why bother, just go along.

  • Robert Crawford


    This might seem strange, at first.

    It is the best thing that could have happened, for you, and Scotland.

    We don’t want anymore arse lickers telling us what we can and cannot have with our own taxes.


    When I watched your U-tube video of your speach made in St. Andrews on the Sunday morning after it was Posted. it had 30 hits, by Monday it had 90,000 plus hits. What does that tell you?

    I will vote for you and so will everyone else when they know what you stand for. Or more exactly, what you don’t stand for, and that is the crucial part.

    Very well done, again, very well done, you are a man after my own heart.

    I will be making my opinions known to the First Minister.

    I did not get my Independence therefore, no party will get my vote. Spoiled paper from now on.

    I get this shite from Public Employees all the time regardless of what I complain about. It is their way or, NO WAY!

    Democracy, my arse!.

    There is bettter solutions ahead, and I am up for a fight alongside you.

    Their are hell bent on preventing me from my potetial with their “gangstocking”.

    A politica fight to remove them from Power is what is needed, for us all, for every last one of us in Scotland!

    Let us show some guts and solidarity for one another. It is long overdue.

    What are you all waiting for? Don’t be a gutless wonder all your life.

    Get up and fight back!


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