RISING from the ashes of Nicola Sturgeon’s eight-year reign as First Minister of Scotland there is hope among some of the party’s internal dissenters that a kinder atmosphere might now come to prevail inside the SNP.

Already, it’s become evident to several observers that the party’s Westminster group is a happier and more efficient organism since the departure of Ian Blackford and the accession of Stephen Flynn as his replacement.

It was during Mr Blackford’s unremarkable five-year stint that bullying, harassment and intimidation of women inside the group was, insiders say, ignored.

The principal targets of this abuse tended to be those who were asking questions about some aspects of the proposed Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill.

I was told by one MP – and this was backed up by witnesses – that she often had to seek the company of members of other parties during coffee breaks as it became clear that her colleagues had been told to give her the cold shoulder.

Mr Flynn, it seems, has put a stop to such nonsense and though life isn’t exactly a bowl of cherries among the £84k-a-year tribunes of independence, the atmosphere is certainly better.

Hope for Holyrood

PERHAPS, too, in the wake of the First Minister’s resignation, this balmy atmosphere will extend to the SNP’s Holyrood division.

In recent years, a group of the First Minister’s most oleaginous allies regularly made it their business to attack any members of the party deemed guilty by a shadowy Star Chamber of “un-party” activities, such as defending women’s sex-based human rights.

This was often manifest in attack squads of young male activists targeting the miscreants on social media in the hope that their bravery would gain favour at Central Command. Thus, they might be favoured by being moved up a few places on the lists determining who gets the party nominations at election times.

At SNP party conferences, part of the fun is spotting these Crimplened amoebas. They’re often found in small packs at the edges of meetings or in cafes in well-ironed suits and duffel-bags.

Others further up the SNP food-chain have also found that it pays to be seen to be targeting the right people. We saw a glimpse of this last week when Shirley-Anne Somerville signed up to Alyn Smith’s suggestion that party refuseniks on GRR be made to walk the plank.

Such uber-loyalism to the ukases issuing forth from central office has paid off well for Ms Somerville. Following several years characterised by nothing of any especial merit, she was rewarded with the post of Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills.

Mr Smith’s career has been notable only for being made to pay a substantial sum to the Brexit Party for making false allegations against them in 2019.

For Pete’s sake

PERHAPS nothing epitomised the misogyny and bullying of the Sturgeon era in Scottish politics than the reactions of other party ciphers such as Pete “Slippers” Wishart, the prominent member for Perth and North Perthshire.

Mr Wishart, who has lately developed an unnerving obsession with Alba, took once more to Twitter to belittle his Westminster colleague, Joanna Cherry.

Following several entreaties by her supporters to stand for the party leadership, Ms Cherry said that she didn’t feel this was the right move for her.

She announced this early and without fuss to avoid any fruitless speculation.

Mr Wishart responded to Ms Cherry’s statement by choosing to disparage her.

“I guess we’ll all just have to live with this crushing news and move on …” he tweeted.

The replies to his infantile response indicated that, not for the first time, Mr Wishart had made a misjudgment.

Previous examples of this included that time he thought it was a good idea to become Speaker of the House of Commons.

This position that would have neutered his prime purpose as a politician: making the case for Scottish independence.

Email speculation

ANOTHER of the Westminster’s SNP group, Stewart McDonald, has been unusually subdued of late. Mr McDonald is an amiable enough chiel, if more than a little mesmerised and transfixed by Ukrainian nationalism which seems to float his boat more than the Scottish version.

Sadly, a tranche of Mr McDonald’s emails have been stolen and there has been gleeful speculation as to what they might reveal if they were ever to be made public.

Being an admirer of the cheery member for Glasgow South, I’m hopeful they remain private … unless, of course, they reveal information that ought to be in the public domain.

It was initially thought, ahem, that the Russians had targeted Mr McDonald’s account in retaliation for his sharp criticism of their actions in Ukraine.

In the meantime, I suspect he and his friend, Alyn Smith – nicknamed the Nato twins – will be scanning the skies above Scotland for any sight of one of those Russian or Chinese spy balloons.

It would mean so much to them.