SNP spin machine and civil service now indistinguishable

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has claimed that the SNP’s spin operation and the Scottish government civil service are now indistinguishable.

Mr Rennie has made his claim after the Scottish government sent a news release containing party political polling data to the media. The press release was sent by the First Minister’s top spin doctor, Kevin Pringle, who as a civil servant is paid by the Scottish public.

This release to the media came before it was announced late last week that Mr Pringle would leave the civil service to take up a senior role within the SNP.

Concerns over the politicisation of the civil service under the SNP have increased in the last year after independence workshops for civil servants were introduced; ‘purdah’ rules were broken during the local elections; and Sir Peter Housden’s partisan internal communications.

Commenting, Mr Rennie said:

“If this news release had been sent by Kevin Pringle in his new role then I would dismiss it as the SNP’s continuing obsession with polls rather than policy. But releasing party political polling data to the media under the Scottish government banner is unprecedented and has very serious implications.

“It is increasingly clear that the SNP’s spin machine and the operations of the civil service are now one in the same.

“The civil service is rightly proud of its traditional impartiality and I know many who work for the government are dismayed by what is happening to this great institution under the SNP.

“I have written letter after letter to Sir Peter Housden to get him to step in and put an end to the creeping politicisation of the civil service. It is clear from this news release that nothing has been done.

“The SNP aren’t even attempting to hide it anymore. The use of party political polling data in this government news release is such a blatant breach of impartiality that it is clear the SNP are confident they can get away with it.

“Now more than ever we need a government and a civil service that is focussed on what is best for Scotland, not what is best for the SNP.”