Ewing has criticised government policies fearing they are damaging livelihoods

All eyes have been on the long-serving Inverness and Nairn MSP over his robust criticisms of the Scottish Greens and what he sees as their malign influence in government.

He is also concerned – and not afraid to express his opinions – that the smaller pro-independence party is inflicting damage on his own party’s popularity by pursuing policies which may be close to Green hearts but which have little appeal to most other Scots. 

READ MORE: SNP MSPs told to attend meeting next week to discuss Fergus Ewing

Interest in Mr Ewing’s future as a member of the SNP group at Holyrood has intensified since he voted in June to support a Conservative motion of no confidence in the circular economy minister Lorna Slater, who is also co-leader of the Scottish Greens, over her handling of the controversial deposit return scheme.

The day after the vote, the death of Mr Ewing’s mother, the legendary SNP politician Winnie, was announced.

The Herald: Alex Salmond appearing on his show Scotland Speaks tonight.

It is against this background of personal loss that the party has had to decide what, if any, disciplinary action to take.

To make a sensitive issue even more difficult Mr Ewing’s younger sister Annabelle, the middle of Winnie’s three children, is also a member of the SNP group at Holyrood.

The tweet referred to above came was written last night by Ms Ewing and was a clear message of solidarity to her brother.

It was posted just after SNP MSPs were instructed to attend a special group meeting at 6pm next Wednesday “with regards an internal disciplinary matter in relation to Fergus Ewing MSP”, according to the email.

“So many decades of campaigning for Scottish independence. I am sure that my mother Winnie Ewing would be proud of – Fergus Ewing and Annabelle Ewing,” wrote Ms Ewing, the SNP MSP for Cowdenbeath on X, accompanied by a picture of her and her brother as children with their mother at an independence campaign event.

READ MORE: What’s Humza Yousaf going to do about Fergus Ewing?

To say it’s a complex situation for the party is an understatement.

Adding to the difficulties is the presence of Alex Salmond who gave Mr Ewing top billing on his Scotland Speaks show this evening – and who gave the eulogy at Mrs Ewing’s memorial service in July.

Like Mr Ewing, Mr Salmond has long had his differences with the Scottish Greens with the former first minister declaring at the weekend that his former colleague in government was “ten times the nationalist than Patrick Harvie [the Greens co-leader and government minister] would ever be”.

Mr Salmond also pointed out in his 20 years as SNP leader he only ever expelled one parliamentarian (Bill Walker) following his criminal conviction for assault.

READ MORE: Fergus Ewing Alex Salmond interview: Key talking points

The clear implication was of course that ‘here is Humza Yousaf with potentially two expulsions (following that of MP Angus MacNeil this summer) and he’s only been SNP leader since March’.

As for his appearance on Mr Salmond’s show, broadcast on You Tube this evening, Mr Ewing was on bullish form and there was no sense he was in a mood to be conciliatory ahead of the disciplinary showdown next week.

During the 50-minute programme, on which he appeared with former SNP MP George Kerevan, he was adamant the Scottish Government were heading for a losing legal battle with its UK counterpart over the Gender Recognition Reform Bill.

Mr Ewing was one of a group of SNP MSPs who rebelled against the bill and the matter continued to split the party during this year’s leadership election. Divisions may arise again as the court hearing get underway this month.

In what may be another sore point for the current SNP leadership, Mr Ewing used his appearance to continue to take aim at the direction of Scottish Government policy – while praising how things were under Mr Salmond.

“I do think that the Scottish Government should be supporting industry, we should be praising our brilliant sectors, in finance, in oil and gas for which we’ll need for decades to come, in renewables, in life sciences, in food and drink.

“That’s what we used to do, if you don’t mind me saying so, when you were the boss,” he told Mr Salmond.

It’s a point that will hit a nerve with Mr Yousaf and his allies and perhaps even his predecessor Nicola Sturgeon. Mr Salmond has often described the government he ran as ‘competent’ and the current one, not so much.

Mr Salmond’s new party Alba has yet to experience electoral success, yet for a good number of independence supporters he is still hugely admired.

They point to the fact he managed to achieve an independence referendum, outwitting the UK Government to get it, and some believe that had he remained as SNP leader and FM, he could have pulled it off again – and won.

It’s hard to know what will happen to Mr Ewing next Wednesday evening. Will he face a severe sanction or will the group opt for a more light touch approach such as a short suspension?

There is some talk that they will go for the latter if only because the former could create a whole new set of troubles.

But one things for sure, all eyes wil be on what Mr Ewing gets up to next.


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