SNP minister’s toxic blasts at her own colleagues: Leaked messages rubbishing fellows reveal bitter splits within Scotland’s main political party
- Elena Whitham attacked Cabinet members In the foul-mouthed WhatsApp texts
- Whitham branded the late Queen’s Jubilee celebrations as ‘royalist b******s’
An SNP minister made a humiliating apology yesterday after sending a series of toxic messages mocking senior party colleagues.
In the texts, Elena Whitham attacked Cabinet members including Deputy First Minister Shona Robison and Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson.
In the foul-mouthed messages, posted in an internal WhatsApp group, she also criticised her party’s handling of harassment complaints about former Westminster chief whip Patrick Grady, and branded the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations ‘royalist b******s’.
Ms Whitham, who was appointed by Humza Yousaf as his drugs and alcohol policy minister in his first reshuffle, yesterday issued a public apology for the comments.
But the SNP leader failed to commit to a probe of either the comments or the leak of them to a national newspaper.
Ms Whitham, who was appointed by Humza Yousaf as his drugs and alcohol policy minister in his first reshuffle, yesterday issued a public apology for the comments
Scottish Conservative chairman Craig Hoy said: ‘These damning leaked messages sum up the chaos that is now engulfing the SNP. They are fighting like Nats in a sack, with another SNP representative happy to undermine their ministerial colleagues.
‘The feuds among the SNP are becoming increasingly bitter and the party looks deeply divided. Humza Yousaf clearly doesn’t have the leadership authority to crack down on these disputes, otherwise these eye-opening messages wouldn’t have seen the light of day.
‘As the SNP spend more time throwing insults at each other, the real priorities of Scotland are being completely ignored.’
In the scathing private messages, leaked to the Daily Record, Ms Whitham said in June 2021 that Ms Robison was ‘a bit of a cold fish’. Mocking the then-social justice secretary’s delivery style when giving a statement about poverty, she said: ‘Shona needing to find her stride here. She is struggling.
‘It is a great statement and we are doing so much amazing work but she isn’t selling it as well as she could. She is a bit of a cold fish. She is like an automaton.’
Responding to a later statement by Ms Robison she said: ‘Gosh… I find Shona R painful to listen to.’
She also criticised the appointment of Mr Robertson in 2021, saying: ‘Angus in Cabinet (rolling eyes emoji) the ego has landed.’
In the foul-mouthed messages Whitham criticised her party’s handling of harassment complaints about Patrick Grady (left) and attacked Cabinet members including Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson
Ms Whitham was appointed by Humza Yousaf (pictured) as his drugs and alcohol policy minister in his first reshuffle but the SNP leader failed to commit to a probe of either the comments or the leak of them to a national newspaper
After an ex-SNP staff member who was sexually harassed by Mr Grady condemned the party’s handling of the case, she said in June 2022: ‘Honestly, why didn’t we act?’
When the Mail revealed a secret recording in June 2022 showing that then-SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford urged colleagues to give Mr Grady their ‘full support’, Ms Whitham said: ‘Wtf. Who is recording group meetings?! And why are we supporting Grady?? Honestly.’
Ms Whitham also attacked others outside the party. During a Holyrood debate on a motion praising the late Queen on the 70th anniversary of her accession to the throne, she said: ‘Give me the strength to get through this royalist b******s.’ She also said of Conservative MSP Brian Whittle: ‘F*** me. Whittle is a p****.’
In a statement issued after the messages were published yesterday, Ms Whitham said: ‘These comments were not acceptable and I apologise sincerely.’
Mr Yousaf said: ‘These comments were obviously made in private and then leaked, but nonetheless she was right to apologise.
In the texts, Elena Whitham attacked Cabinet members including Deputy First Minister Shona Robison (left) and slammed Ian Blackford ‘s appeal to colleagues to give Patrick Grady their ‘full support’
During a Holyrood debate on a motion praising the late Queen on the 70th anniversary of her accession to the throne, Whitham branded the celebrations as ‘royalist b******s’
‘I spoke to Elena yesterday and she’s right to apologise to her colleagues that were affected.
‘I have absolute full confidence in Elena. She’s doing an excellent job in a really challenging portfolio.’ It came on the day that Dr Philippa Whitford become the eighth Nationalist MP to say they would quit at the next election.
And, in further turmoil for the SNP, veteran nationalist Fergus Ewing said that he could quit the party unless it delivers on the dualling of the A9.
Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie said: ‘What these leaks go to show is that the SNP is in disarray – with a Scottish Government minister slagging off colleagues right, left and centre.
‘This is a party out of ideas, out of control and out of time.’
Tory MSP Murdo Fraser said: ‘Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this story is that one of her SNP colleagues has leaked these messages to discredit her. Discipline has collapsed into open warfare. It’s over for them.’
The SNP has been embroiled in a series of spats in recent months.
Veteran nationalist and former rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing said that he could quit the party unless it delivers on the dualling of the A9
Former rural economy secretary Mr Ewing faces the threat of disciplinary action after he defied the SNP whip and backed a motion of no confidence in Green minister Lorna Slater last month.
Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil was also suspended after a bust-up with chief whip Brendan O’Hara, which was then extended indefinitely after he called the party’s leadership ‘utterly clueless’.
Earlier this week, Nationalist MP Joanna Cherry said there must be ‘an open and honest analysis of what’s gone wrong in recent years and a plan to put it right’.
Asked if Mr Yousaf would consider any disciplinary action against Ms Whitham or launch an investigation into the leak of the messages, an SNP spokesman said: ‘We do not comment on leaked messages, however we remind all of our parliamentarians of the courtesy and respect they should show each other.’
Ex-SNP councillor Mhairi Hunter said: ‘The Elena Whitham story is a reminder to be cautious in group chats because you never know when someone is a treacherous backstabbing piece of s***.’
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