The husband of SNP leadership contender Kate Forbes attended a Tory members-only leadership hustings, and watched Liz Truss battle it out with Rishi Sunak. Why was Ali MacLennan there? Do they lack entertainments such as a television in the Forbes household? 

The presence of MacLennan is revealed, with glee, in the red-top tabloid Daily Record. As ever with the once mighty Record, formerly the house journal of Scottish Labour when it and the unions ran much of Scotland, any association with Tories (socialising with them, listening to them, allowing them in the country) is deemed to be a horrific concept.

“MacLennan,” the paper’s political editor Paul Hutcheon writes, “was in the middle of the audience to hear Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak spell out their right-wing visions for the UK.” Right-wing visions? The swines. The report makes the then Tory leadership hopefuls (including the moderate Sunak) sound as though they were speaking in a beer hall in 1920s Germany and demanding the scrapping of the Versailles Treaty.

The Record reports breathlessly that the Forbes campaign claims her husband was at the private hustings as a guest. The Scottish Tories say it was members-only.

Presumably some eagle-eyed Scottish Tory has spotted that MacLennan in the audience and captured an image of the guy listening to Tories and maybe even being one himself. There was no response from the Forbes campaign, reports the Record, to allegations MacLennan may be a Tory.

But so what? There should be no requirement for the spouse of a cabinet minister or leader to have the same politics as their other half. Look how badly conformity has turned out for the SNP under Sturgeon. Her husband is party chief executive and ended up lending the SNP more than £100k to help with cash flow issues, without telling his wife. Breakfast time in the Sturgeon household must be a hoot.

MacLennan having his own mind is a positive sign. The SNP could do with some robust pluralism. And so, it’s time for the SNP to take some inspiration from British history.

Clementine Churchill couldn’t stand the Tory party. Culturally, she was an old-style Liberal who, it is said, regarded the Tory party as irredeemably vulgar. When her husband was offered the leadership she was wary about him taking it what with the Tories being a bunch of unreliable rotters. In 1940 Chamberlain remained leader after being removed as PM. Clementine supported her husband, not the Tory party.

Perhaps Ali MacLennan knows this. He may even (avert your eyes Daily Record hacks) have read a book or two on the Churchills.

Write to us with your comments to be considered for publication at