Monday, October 25

Sturgeon v Salmond’s gender politics cannot be ignored | Scottish National Party (SNP)

IIt is political theater of the highest order: the dispute between Scotland’s Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon and her former mentor, Alex Salmond, over the handling of the sexual harassment allegations against her. The drama is so spectacular that it positively invites viewers to take sides. And while it may not be fair to expect a female leader to deal with such claims more adeptly than a male in the same position, the expectation is without question, and Sturgeon herself has admitted that the Scottish government’s response was confusing. and disappointed the complainants.

At the same time, it’s hard to avoid seeing ancient archetypes in action. The SNP’s inner circle resembles a dysfunctional family where the father figure, Salmond, rages against the ungrateful daughter, Sturgeon, who has refused to provide him with the protection he believes is right for him. She responded with a brave performance before the Holyrood investigation this week, defying any expectations on her part: “As prime minister, I refused to follow the old pattern of allowing a powerful man to use his status and connections to get what he wanted. he wants.”

It’s exactly what women want to hear in the #MeToo era, but Sturgeon also made a revealing admission. Denying Salmond’s claim that she offered to intervene on his behalf, he acknowledged that he might have been left with the opposite impression: “Maybe I was trying to gently disappoint an old friend and colleague, and maybe I did it too much. smoothness”. This is absolutely stereotypical female behavior, a woman taking responsibility for a man’s feelings, and it occurs frequently in unequal relationships.

Sturgeon’s reaction in April 2018 when Salmond told her exactly what he was accused of was shock, and she recalled this week that the revelation sparked “a whirlwind of emotions.” The shock may somehow explain why his handling of the complaints brought against Salmond by two women was so inept, leading to a successful judicial review of the Scottish government investigation. Salmond received more than £ 500,000 of public money in costs.

However, it must be said that the revelation of the former prime minister did not come entirely out of nowhere. Even before that fateful meeting at his home, Sturgeon had “a persistent fear, suspicion and concern” that allegations might arise about Salmond’s behavior toward women. Five months earlier, in November 2017, he had been informed of alleged incidents involving the former prime minister at Edinburgh airport a decade earlier.

A couple of weeks before that, American actress Alyssa Milano had been on social media inviting women to use the #MeToo hashtag if they had ever been sexually harassed or assaulted. It received massive publicity, and it is unclear why a smart political operator like Sturgeon did not perceive a serious risk when the alleged behavior of his former mentor seemed to fit an emerging pattern. It is one of several reasons why the prime minister’s judgment has been questioned, but at least she has acknowledged her mistakes.

“Two women failed and the taxpayers’ money was lost,” she told the investigation candidly on Wednesday, in stark contrast to Salmond’s. “I do not regret anything”Performance of the previous week. It is unfortunate for Sturgeon that his appearance continued bitter recriminations about her handling of a separate issue, self-identification for trans people, which has led some SNP feminists to question their support for her.

Still, the most astonishing aspect of this long saga is Salmond’s determination to present himself as his victim. Let’s be clear: He was acquitted in a criminal trial last year of 12 counts of attempted rape, sexual assault and indecent assault. Some men might have seen that result as justification enough, but it was evidently not enough for the former prime minister, who has decided to reinvent himself as the totally innocent target of an evil conspiracy.

It is not an accepted opinion by your former MP, who has described his behavior towards one of the original whistleblowers, which is too often overlooked in this unedifying sequence of events, by the way, as “profoundly inappropriate”. Salmond’s defense attorney at his trial, Gordon Jackson QC, was heard on a train describing the former SNP leader as “quite an objectionable bully to work with,” although he later clarified that he did not consider his client a “sexual plague.” . ”. (Jackson resigned as dean of the College of Law and was referred to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission.)

The fact is, it is the woman who apologized for a “terrible and catastrophic error” in her government’s investigation who is fighting for her political life, rather than the man whose alleged misconduct started the ongoing scandal. The jury is out on whether the prime minister will survive, but the situation speaks volumes about the different expectations that the public and the media continue to have towards men and women in public life.

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