It was a depressing result. I had almost convinced myself that Forbes would win as it looked as if she had done a deal when she changed sides half way through. If a deal was done, it wasn’t to make her Deputy FM as we saw later with the appointment of Shona Robison, the GRRB queen. You can see Sturgeon’s and Harvie’s sticky fingers all over that. Forbes was apparently offered Rural Affairs (I thought rural affairs were Yousaf’s speciality) which would have been a big demotion from Finance, which she wisely refused. Interestingly, I thought there were rules about sacking or demoting someone on their return from maternity leave. Perhaps they don’t apply to politicians. The rest of his gender neutral cabinet will, I’m sure, be equally interesting.
Of course, Yousaf is not afraid to play the race card. Constantly referring to himself in the election as a minority, he implied that only he of the three candidates was able to have an opinion about trans issues. He also made a statement in Parliament complaining that white people occupied most senior positions in Scottish society, ignoring the fact that the Scottish population demographic is about 96% white.
What else can we take from the election? It looks like the majority of SNP members are not independence supporters. No one would vote for Yousaf if they were, though some might have voted early for Forbes before she changed sides. Ash got only 5.5k votes, much less than I expected though I didn’t really expect her to be better than third. I don’t believe that anyone who voted for Ash Reagan would have put Yousaf as second choice. The two are at opposite ends of the political spectrum. Combined with the nonsense of him saying in an interview that he was ahead on first preferences, this reinforces my view that the vote was fiddled.
Can we still consider the SNP as a party of independence? After eight and a half years of Sturgeon’s inaction and with Yousaf saying and showing every sign of being more of the same, it seems unlikely that the Scottish Government will initiate any moves or undertake any preparation for independence in the next three years. However, you can be sure they’ll make a lot of noise just before the Holyrood election.
I think SNP may lose a lot of seats in UK GE, but that will make no difference as SNP MPs achieve nothing in Westminster anyway. The real danger is 2026. SNP may lose a lot of constituency seats, especially if Alba stands, which I think they should, as the SNP are just one more devolutionist party, but it’s going to take a lot of hard work (and luck) for enough ex-SNP votes to go to Alba to get them elected in any constituencies, so we’ll have to depend on list seats to get an independence majority. And we need an independence majority because the unionists will take their chance to destroy Scotland if they’re in the majority.
It was interesting that Yousaf’s first actions were to beg for an S30 (almost instant rejection, but duty done) and to cosy up to his soul mates in the Greens. Gives a clear indication of what this administration is going to concentrate on.
I wonder if the police investigations into the missing money will continue. Will we ever find out what all the £600k was spent on? We have heard that about £200k went to keep Angus Robertson afloat until he could get a seat in HR. Is it true? It has been suggested that £100k+ went to pay Alyn Smith’s costs for his defamation of the guy in charge of the Brexit party. Is it true? And the rest? Who knows? Maybe on the alleged office refurbishment? Maybe just to keep Sturgeon and Murrell in the standard to which they had become accustomed? Whatever, we know it’s gone and after next year’s UK election, the reduction in seats will mean a corresponding reduction in Short money, so perhaps the SNP won’t have enough to keep them afloat. What then, I wonder?
This makes the election of Yousaf all the more surprising. The SNP must have expected the reaction they got and the likely fallout in terms of membership losses, so what advantage did the party get that was more valuable than the loss of money and position? I suppose we all have our own ideas. Has Yousaf agreed to keep the location of the buried bodies a secret, while perhaps the other two wouldn’t have? Who knows, but it must have been something really important to risk this level of rejection.
Where do we go from here? Is it time to write off the SNP as having any role in the independence movement or should we wait for a few months to see what happens? I think from the reaction to news of the election on Twitter, where umpteen people announced that they were resigning from the SNP and joining Alba, means many independence supporters have already made up their minds. So it looks as if we have but two alternatives. Either we decide that the independence movement can no longer rely on politicians and the people have to make it happen or we have to quickly build up a replacement to the SNP, likely Alba. Both seem fraught with difficulty, but we have one advantage. The UK GE can give us a pointer to which route is working better and we don’t really have to worry too much if we get the tactics wrong because, as I said earlier, the result doesn’t matter if more or fewer SNP MPs get elected as they’ll do no good in Westminster anyway.
So let’s decide what we’re going to do, go for it full steam ahead, and if it doesn’t work out next year, we’ve got two years to revise the strategy before the more important election in 2026.
Yousaf’s Cabinet announced. The team of all the talents – NOT. He managed (deliberately?) to insult the only two decent ministers (Forbes and McKee) from Sturgeon’s last cabinet by offering them reduced roles which they both turned down. Instead, we have a bunch of GRR pals, pretty much all of them unsuited to their roles, none more so than Shona Robison, who can only count past 10 if she takes her shoes off, Shirley-Anne Somerville, who would have been unsuited for any post, and Angela Constance, the only minister who can give Yousaf a run for failures, so bad that even Sturgeon got rid of her. None of the Cabinet will make Yousaf look bad, but he can do that all himself.
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