Whilst he stood triumphant on the steps of Scotland’s High Court of Justice and reinforced his faith in the judicial system, the Internet erupted with incredulity. To many, Alex Salmond remains a guilty figure irrespective of the outcome of this historic rape trial.
As a result, it is speculated that ruptures have been forged, perhaps irreconcilably, in the SNP. And his loyal remaining supporters have called for an official review over how the party dealt with the case, currently scheduled to take place around Easter. Meanwhile, others maintain that Salmond should no longer hold a place in Scottish politics despite his acquittal.
Bleakly, in the era of #MeToo, it almost comes as a surprise when an old white man is not convicted for sexual assault or rape
It should not be a revelation to anyone, therefore, when Salmond still faces so much opposition. Ultimately, Nicola Sturgeon’s assertions that “how we are seen to respond to this will say a lot about who we are as a party” represents the attitude of modern politics most succinctly. To Sturgeon, and to many, an acquitted rape trial in the SNP is equal to a rape conviction in its outward appearances. Simply, they cannot be seen to accept him back into their party while the rest of the world watches.
An official Hollyrood investigation is set to take place in which members of the SNP including Sturgeon are questioned for their alleged involvement in intentionally foiling Salmond’s reputation. As Salmond is Sturgeon’s predecessor, many including Salmond himself are using his fall from grace as evidence of malpractice within the party. To them, Sturgeon facilitated Salmond’s accusers with the intent of thwarting Salmond’s reputation. This is vehemently denied by Sturgeon, who maintains that she has found it hard to stand against a man whom she once considered a mentor.
No matter the outcome of the upcoming investigation, the crisis which has already formed within the SNP surrounding Salmond illustrates that he may be too much of a controversial figure to be allowed to remain. At a time which is already so fraught, there is no room for any political division within parties.