SPECULATION is rife among senior SNP figures about whether the First Minister will reshuffle her Cabinet after four of her top team have announced they will be standing down ahead of the May election.The National
Well it is now! But apart, perhaps, from the days and maybe weeks immediately subsequent to a cabinet reshuffle, is there ever a time when speculation about ministerial sackings and promotions is not rife? There is certainly never a time when such speculation cannot be made rife by the simple expedient of a newspaper article ‘revealing’ how rife speculation is.
Not that it’s much of a revelation. With several members of Nicola Sturgeon’s “top team” having declared their intention to stand down before the 2021 election, and the distinct possibility of one or two more following that lead, some reshuffling was rather obviously going to be required. If the the flies of political speculation should be buzzing around any turd it would be the question of whether the necessary reshuffle takes place before or after the election. At which point we bid farewell to all but the most geeky politics anoraks.
I’m still here.
The National has it covered! In a relatively short article (a mere 700 words) Kathleen Nutt squeezes in speculation about the timing of the reshuffle along with speculation about the personalities who are or may or may not be involved. All complete with quotes from people in the know such as “SNP source”; individuals who have a finger on the pulse of Scottish politics such as “second insider” with confirmation from trusted informants like “others”. And, of course, where speculation is rife – or rifening or being rifened – there’s always at least one “senior SNP figure”.
Is that rife enough for you?
Bearing in mind that other than the fact that there will self-evidently have to be changes this is all just speculation, we might further speculate about Nicola Sturgeon’s priorities. One of Ms Nutt’s sources – I think it was “second insider” – offers this profound thought.
It’s one of the advantages of incumbency. You can choose a team which hopefully the electorate like and they will reward you accordingly.
The suggestion being that cabinet members might be selected on the basis of their appeal to voters rather than their potential competence in the role to which they are assigned. Surely not! Perish the thought! Ye gods forfend! Doth I protesteth too much? Yeth? Thorry!
I doubt very much if voter appeal is more than a minor consideration for Nicola Sturgeon as she picks her top team. I get no impression of such shallowness from her. Doubtless she knows the value of charisma. She could hardly be so adept at presentation if she wasn’t acutely aware of how she must be perceived by her audience. Personality doesn’t just aid or hinder the conveying of a message, it becomes part of that message. A quite important part. Unlike, say, Tony Blair however our First Minister has some substance behind the charismatic facade. She knows how to modulate the charm. And when to dispense with it altogether.
We can be confident, therefore, that whether the reshuffle comes before or after the election Nicola Sturgeon will be applying appropriate criteria as she makes her selections. In relation to choosing her cabinet, there is no doubt Nicola Sturgeon has her priorities well ordered. Would that we could be so sure of her priorities in other regards.
Speculation is most assuredly rife within the Yes movement – which includes SNP members – about what weight the de facto figurehead of Scotland’s cause will afford the constitutional issue in the SNP’s election campaign. There is, by my reckoning, even greater speculation around the question of precisely – or even vaguely – what she proposes to do about the constitutional issue, other than maybe mention it in the manifesto and maybe talk about it in the most general terms in the course of the campaign. What does she intend to do if/when returned to government that will lead to the restoration of Scotland’s independence?
Such speculation is discouraged. Actively by “senior SNP figures”. Fervently by certain brigades of the Yes movement’s impressively huge social media army. Discouraged even by Ms Sturgeon herself. Discouraged with enough vigour to leave the distinct impression that the SNP leadership is extremely uncomfortable with questions about its so-called Plan A.
How convenient it would be if that rife speculation were redirected to the matter of a cabinet reshuffle.
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