Document:The beginning of the end

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Beaming Kate Forbes.webp
See the evident delight on Kate Forbes’ face
"I don't think there's any chance Humza Yousaf has won the SNP leadership election legitimately. But this morning I'm deeply worried that those still controlling the party have absolutely nothing left to lose by fixing it in his favour."

Disclaimer (#3)Document.png blog post  by Stuart Campbell dated 27 March 2023
Subjects: 2023 Scottish National Party leadership election, Kate Forbes, Ash Regan, Humza Yousaf
Source: Wings Over Scotland (Link)

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The beginning of the end

She’d clearly been exhausted by the contest some time ago, and must have been dreading winning and having to continue fighting the assault from within her own party. Her evident delight and relief at her own failure was a revealing moment.

The great unknown in this election was just who the SNP membership was. No poll could tell us, and with over 50,000 people having quit the party in the last three years, nobody knew who was left. But we know now: idiots.

Yousaf told us over and over again that he wasn’t as good as Nicola Sturgeon, and we know that Sturgeon was a failure who took the SNP and the cause of independence backwards by every possible measure.[1] So the SNP’s members have voted for someone who by his own admission, before he even starts, is worse than a failure.

Humza Yousaf has been a failure in every job he’s had in government, and now he’s basically in charge of every department at once when he’s proven himself unable to handle any one of them at a time.

He was the “continuity candidate” of a party that pretty much everyone agrees is currently a radioactive bin fire of corruption, incompetence and chaos, so we can only assume its members want the calamitous shambles to continue. He already has a -20 approval rating with the Scottish public, and even among SNP voters he’s only +11.[2]

He has no plan whatsoever for progressing the case for independence, either in terms of support or process, and he hung his campaign on his intention of going to court in support of a policy opposed by 70% of the electorate, which has caused the SNP to haemorrhage members, and which he’ll now keep in the public eye for months with no hope of success. But SNP members still voted for him.

(Well, slightly over a third of them did – he got 52% of a 70% turnout, with three in 10 of the party’s claimed membership unwilling to vote for any of the candidates. By comparison, 83% of Tory members voted in the election that made Liz Truss very briefly Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. We suspect very strongly that even the SNP’s recently-amended claim of having 72,000 members is still a five-figure overestimate.)

Perhaps most astonishingly, 1,696 SNP members whose first choice was Ash Regan – 30% of them – gave Yousaf their second vote.

Or maybe they didn’t.

I don't think there's any chance Humza Yousaf has won the SNP leadership election legitimately. But this morning I'm deeply worried that those still controlling the party have absolutely nothing left to lose by fixing it in his favour.[3]

There was so much chicanery and blatant corruption around the election that there’ll be a shadow of suspicion over Yousaf’s victory for the entirety of his leadership, however long that might be.[4] Without conclusive proof we make no allegations, but we know what we think. In our view it was a grave mistake for Regan and Forbes not to take out an interdict to ensure independent scrutiny, and ultimately it will do Yousaf no favours either.

(In our assessment the fight was lost a couple of weeks ago, on the Channel 4 debate. Having visibly panicked Yousaf with combative performances on the STV one two days earlier, both Forbes and Regan caved to his team’s hysterical response and turned in weak, compliant “collegiate” showings that put the favourite back in charge.)

The result means that Yousaf will be able to offer what limited protection is within his power to the SNP hierarchy over the numerous ongoing criminal investigations in which the party is ensnared. Those are probably too far gone to seriously obstruct now, but anything he can do for them was a gamble worth taking from their perspective.

As for the party itself, all Yousaf offers is managed decline. Its support, and support for independence, will fall. Any chance of Scotland extracting itself from the UK in the next decade is dead. But so incompetent is the opposition that even under Yousaf it’s quite hard to see the SNP failing to win the next Holyrood election.

Any prospect of a pro-independence majority is negligible, though. The likelihood is that it’ll return at best to a 2007-style minority, only without the competence or the wit to negotiate deals to get its legislation through. The only bills that it’ll be able to command a majority for will be authoritarian, “progressive” ones like gender reform and hate crime. It’s going to be a truly grim time to live in Scotland.

(At this point we certainly couldn’t rule out a Unionist coalition, though. They’ll have the numbers, and the sense of fair play and propriety that enabled Alex Salmond to form a government with just 47 seats can no longer be assumed.)

As for this site, from a journalistic perspective a Yousaf administration promises plenty to get our teeth into. We’ll keep doing our job and aim to outlast him just as we did with Sturgeon. We’re pretty sure that won’t take another eight years, and we hope you’ll stick with us. But folks, as far as independence goes, get ready for a really long haul.