Sunday, 3 November 2013

And then there were two..

There are more changes at Yes Scotland.
The so-called "Top Team" of five directors announced barely a year ago has lost another member.
All three of the five exits have been female, leaving just the lads behind.
Here's a longer version of the story in today's Sunday Herald.

Paul Hutcheon and Tom Gordon
THE defeated SNP candidate at the Dunfermline by-election is not returning to her powerful post at the Yes Scotland campaign group, it can be revealed.

Shirley-Anne Somerville, who was Director of Communities at Yes, is instead taking up a new job with the SNP.

Her departure has fuelled concerns in the Yes movement about the lack of females in key positions at the organisation.

As Communities chief, Somerville had the vital brief of establishing a network of pro-independence activists and ambassadors across the country.
She was believed to have built a solid base and was respected by the different elements of the independence coalition.
However, after wife-beating MSP Bill Walker resigned his Dunfermline seat, Somerville eyed Holyrood and was selected as the Nationalist candidate.
She had previously been a Lothians MSP, but lost her seat after the 2011 Holyrood election.
During the by-election, she said she was on a “leave of absence at the moment from Yes”.
However, she is not coming back.
During the snap poll, Yes brought in new faces to the Communities team, including “programmes specialist” Caroline Key, SNP staffer Lorraine Reid and businesswoman Sarah-Jane Walls.
Working alongside deputy communities director Stan Blackley and SNP European election candidate Toni Giugliano, the new appointments created a “flatter” management structure.
One insider said the Communities division had “changed”, adding that the Director’s post no longer existed.
Top Team no more: Caldwell, Somerville and Stuart have all left since March
Somerville’s departure appears to confirm the view inside Yes that too many directors’ posts were created in the early days of the campaign group.
Four directors and one deputy director were announced in September last year.
Yes Scotland billed them as its "Top Team"
However it is understood a later review concluded the organisation was top-heavy with directors and recommended reform.
Concerns are now being expressed about the number of senior female departures from Yes.
Of the five directors unveiled at the beginning of Yes, three were women.
Communications chief Susan Stewart, former operations director Jacqueline Caldwell and Somerville have now all gone.
Key was a part-time consultant for Yes before being moved to Communities, while Walls was already an advisory board member for the group.
One source said the departures did not bode well for Yes trying to bridge the gender gap in support for independence, with polls showing more men than women backing separation.
Before becoming an MSP, Somerville held posts at the Chartered Institute of Housing and the Royal College of Nursing.
She has also been a public affairs consultant and campaign strategist for the SNP.
An SNP spokesperson said: “Shirley-Anne previously held a senior role at SNP headquarters and will return there shortly, working for a Yes vote.”
Blair Jenkins, the chief executive of Yes, said: “We are very grateful to Shirley-Anne for driving the creation and development of our communities campaign. We wish her every success in her new role campaigning for a Yes vote.”
A source at Better Together, which campaigns for Scotland to remain part of the UK, said: “The SNP campaign are constantly telling us about this army of grassroots activists they are building. It must be hard to build an army when the generals keep resigning.”