A letter from Nicola Sturgeon to Mike Russell, as imagined by Kevin McKenna

Dear Mike,

Thank you for accepting my invitation to become the political director of our independence unit. In doing so you are maintaining a rich and long tradition of party luminaries stretching back very many years. I understand your first task will be to organise a post-Covid re-union event for all the previous incumbents of this prestigious post and that you have requested a larger venue to accommodate them all. Please speak to Peter, who is open to a Friends and Family discount for the use of the hospitality suite at party headquarters.

Anyway, to business. As you will know, I have signalled my clear and unambiguous intent to consider having a look at delivering a second independence referendum at some point in the lifetime of this Parliament and providing that the world gets the all-clear on any and all future variants of the Covid. We’ll be advised in this by the UN, Unesco, the IMF, the WHO and the ELO.

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At that point we will establish a strategic organisational unit for the establishment of the rules of a second independence referendum which you will also oversee when that time comes. Peter has all the details of that too and you’ll be expected to liaise with him throughout this process. Once we have all the personnel in place for the strategic organisational unit we will invite stakeholders to a special summer school where we will kick around some ideas about what our strategic primary goals are going forward.

When these have been fully debated we will ask all delegates to report back to their committees for a year-long process of strategic engagement before inviting them to return for another summer school the following year. Following this we will produce a landmark and strategic independence referendum vow which Murray Foote will help you to draft.

When we have completed the final draft we’ll seek the endorsement of all Yes groups over the next two years before finalising it at a party conference at some point in the next term of the Scottish Parliament (assuming we still have a Yes majority). And then I’ll make my final pledge to seek a Section 30 order from the Prime Minister.

To circumvent any leaks only a very select group will be privy to all information regarding the Independence Unit. All five of us are in Peter’s WhatsApp group and you’ll be invited to apply for membership once your three-month trial period has been completed.

I’d advise you to read up on my recently-published collection of speeches, as you’ll be expected to be word-perfect on it during the interview process. The National Executive Committee’s literary group have chosen it as their Book of the Month and the SNP Youth are selling it at their Red-Hoods-and-Fiery-Cross themed fundraisers. Incidentally, Jason Leitch does a brilliant Dentist Chair routine at these nights with the vodka shots and the baby Guinness.

I note also your perfectly reasonable points about the size of the budget for this enterprise. I’m pretty sure there’s a few hundred grand sloshing about in a special Independence account somewhere. So, fill your boots. That old car you’ve been knocking about in isn’t really a good look for a sinecure such as this. Why don’t you get a new one: on us, of course. Well, when I say "us" obviously I mean the members. I’m sure they won’t mind.

We have a teensy-weensy problem with some of the other poppy, though. Peter set up the special independence account and forgot to memorise the number and sort code. He wrote it down somewhere and then mistook the digits for his lottery numbers and the time of a horse running at Kempton that week before changing them and destroying the old ones.

The finance oversight committee on the NEC were none too pleased and have all resigned, but I can assure you there’s been nothing untoward; nothing untoward at all. We’re drafting in a hypnotist next week to put Peter under and extract the details from his subconscious. Yes, I know that one of Blackford’s speeches could probably do the trick for nothing but we must all of us strive to ensure that everything is done above board and on the level.

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Peter was planning a wee independence fact-finding tour of Cancun until the Covid struck. He felt there were lessons and best practice strategies from the Mexican War of Independence in 1821. Perhaps, once we’re all vaxed up and good to go you could accompany him. Bring Mrs Russell along too.

Under the Covid Emergency Powers which will run for another few years (I can assure you) we’ve slotted in a cheeky subsection at the foot of page 3,789. This allows us to use surveillance of those we deem to be a threat to the harmony of the nation as we follow the roadmap out of the Covid. Some of the SNP Youth think we should consider bugging JC’s phone but I’m not so sure about going that far. We live in a liberal democracy and we should be moving away from that model. But by all means though, let’s have a chat about some alternatives.

You expressed a degree of disquiet about the activities of the AUOB mob and the Common Weal types agitating for rapid action on a second referendum. We’ll make sure that this falls within the purview of the Emergency Covid Powers and ban them from holding gatherings of more than 20 people.

We can also arrange another Home Office Detention raid before the end of the year in Pollokshields if the clamour for a quick indyref gets a bit intense and we need to take the heat off. We’ve also got the Help to Die bill; the GRA stuff and the Hate Crime legislation all coming along to keep troublesome elements otherwise occupied – not to mention Brexit; the Tories’ PPE grift and of course the Covid itself.

Enjoy the new post and all the benefits that come with it, Mike. You’ve earned this by keeping loyal and quiet. The contract lasts for 10 years and we can discuss renewing it in due course.

Saor Alba,


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