SNP: Loading the Votes

The SNP candidates for leadership and first minister: Forbes, Regan and Yousaf

Unless a member of the SNP, election of a new leader is out of your hands and that’s the way it should be. Election of Scotland’s first minister is another matter altogether. At last in that the elctorate can make their voice heard in various ways, internet, letter to MSP or MP, or to a newspaper. The first minister should be elected by the people. If Yousaf is elected by the party, and he does not resort to the race or religion card to win, thus scunnering those of us watching the process, he will be Sturgeon with a beard, to put it bluntly. And we’ve had enough of men in beards role playing a woman.

Yousaf is guaranteed, indeed has said it already, that he will elevate Sturgeon to some sort of roving ambassador for Scotland, and that in turn means keep her nefarious husband Peter Murrell in power as CEO of the party’s national executive. There are MSPs lining up to make that dire continutation a probability, a terrifying vision because none put Scotland’s liberty before self, party, or pension. They seek self-preservation.

Yousaf’s personality is quite hard to pin down, it lacks cjharisma, he is anodyn, furtive, ready to agree with da management – a Yes man, but not YES for tackling the British State head on. His election will depress thousands, and keep the SNP on a downward trajectory. Columnist Kevin McKenna thinks likewise. I guess that’s two of us.


By Kevin McKenna

There’s a reason why so many in the SNP’s career wing have fallen in line to support Humza Yousaf’s bid for the leadership. Like planes lined up on the runway, they wait for their allotted time slot and then, one by one, their little endorsements take flight on social media. All the usual suspects are there.

Their orchestrated messages are replete with the glossary of party loyalty. Owen Thompson, an MP, talks of a “clear vision for the road ahead to independence”. Karen Adam talks of “the incredible progressive body of work we have put in etc, etc”. Clare Adamson, an MSP, says Mr Yousaf will “stand up for Scotland”.

In the well-worn lexicon of SNP sloganizing there is no phrase more devoid of meaning than “standing up for Scotland”. Occasionally I wish someone would pledge to “fall down for Scotland”.

They’re all framed in party yellow and each seems tinged with a degree of desperation. Mr Yousaf is the clear choice of the management to succeed Nicola Sturgeon and those who have flourished under her patronage, like Anne McLaughlin, the MP for Glasgow North East. Ms McLaughlin replaced Joanna Cherry, widely regarded across the House as the party’s most formidable performer, as the SNP’s Westminster spokesperson on justice. Ms Cherry was sacked following a two-year campaign of bullying and intimidation for her gender-critical views.

Ms McLaughlin also felt obliged to make her support for Mr Yousaf official with the designated yellow frame. However, her name was spelt wrongly on this. Ms McLaughlin seems bright and capable. If she’d had agency in this she surely wouldn’t have permitted such a spelling error to have gone out uncorrected.

If Mr Yousaf fails to become leader then the rigorously imposed system of patronage exercised by Nicola Sturgeon will collapse. There will be a clear-out of the acolytes and supplicants who gained favour in her medieval court. Dozens of advisers will lose their jobs; others will be put to work out of harm’s way. The entire edifice of the party executive will be dismantled and its chief executive, Peter Murrell, will be told his services are no longer required.

Several MPs and MSPs of modest abilities who yet found this to be no bar to advancement into the higher echelons of government will similarly be looking about them. Others who were favoured with improbably high listings will find that route closed off.

This partly explains the febrile desire of some party professionals to have Mr Yousaf installed as leader. It’s also contributed to the malodorous whiff coming off this contest. “Rigged” is perhaps putting it too strongly, but it’s clear the party machinery is grinding away in the background.

The winner of this contest will become leader of the country, yet the party executive chose to shorten the contest and squeeze the scrutiny of what passes for hustings into an abridged timeframe open to a tiny fraction of the membership. The process of enabling attendance at these events remains, shall we say… opaque.

Remarkably, Mr Murrell is still around to oversee the process, despite a police investigation into issues surrounding party finances which all occurred on his watch. Is there a fear the wrong candidate will be looking for the keys to some unopened boxes? Remarkably too, the party refuses to publish its membership numbers. Yet, only a few years ago, it was issuing updates on numbers as though they were lottery wins.

It matters in a contest like this. Following the selection results for the last Holyrood election, candidates were never given the numbers of votes, only the percentages. This provides scope for ballot stuffing. In response, party HQ – staffed by people who know their jobs depend on a specific outcome – claim that the process has been handed to an external firm.

Those in the know suspect that central to this remains a system which allows the executive suite to see the votes being cast in real time. This has led to historic claims that information had been leaked to favoured candidates so that they could tweak their campaign focus accordingly.

The contest itself has been conducted largely in an atmosphere of mutual respect and this is to the candidates’ credit. All three of them have a ridiculously small budget to work within, which also precludes any of them making use of paid party staffers for the duration of the contest.

Among the casualties has been the word “progressive”. What a battering it has taken. It’s been twisted to convey something that it clearly is not. Once, this would have indicated a desire to improve the social circumstances of people and communities suffering the ill effects of ultra right-wing and reactionary policies. It would have been manifest in a policy agenda targeting long-term unemployment, stagnant wages, the cartelism of energy suppliers, the causes of drug deaths in poor neighbourhoods, and an enlightened tax apparatus aimed at redistributing wealth. In the Sturgeon era, it’s been carefully de-coupled from these aims and used as a weapon in the gaseous terrain where identity politics lies.

This is because in Ms Sturgeon’s time as First Minister her government has manifestly failed to deliver any progress whatsoever in these areas. Best then to shift the goalposts and make it mean something else. Thus, those self-identifying as progressives merely favour the route of least resistance to capitalism and take refuge in a form of cultural and regressive totalitarianism that specialises in targeting those who refuse to bend the knee to narcissism and fake virtue.

The clear-out that will happen in the event of Ash Regan or Kate Forbes winning is about much more than the brutal process of reprisal and favour. All those executives and advisers and the ruling national executive committee have left this party in a parlous state. In the last eight years it has become a deeply unpleasant entity where bullying and intimidation have been permitted to flourish.

The party has never been more riven by dispute and its upper echelons have been hollowed out by bad actors who care little about independence. They have set the cause of self-determination back by a decade. They have failed and failed utterly.

Mr Yousaf in particular has some explaining to do. He has been a minister for more than a decade. Rather than setting out his agenda to tool up the Yes movement, he should be explaining just what he and his government have been doing all this time.

Whatever it is, very little of it has been about securing independence.


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6 Responses to SNP: Loading the Votes

  1. duncanio says:

    Some of the bodies that have been buried and may be exhumed in the event of Yousaf defeat:

    British state infiltration of the party
    The alleged French connection
    Civil Service collusion in fit ups and stitch ups
    Leaked emails to the press
    Alphabet Soup
    Missing ring-fenced money
    Unexplained personal loans to the party
    Undermining of NEC elections
    Stacking of Regional List MSP candidate selections
    Overt pro-NATO and Russophobic stances
    GCHQ links

    The complete works of John Le Carre is less complex that the aforementioned.

  2. diabloandco says:

    I’m with Duncanio, I suspect there has been much shredding and blackmailing going on to bury as much as possible – that I should think of the SNP in this way is distressing and I am sure I am far from alone. It was the party I joined because of Alex Salmond, his political nous , his enthusiasm for Scotland and her independence .It is a party I left because of the treatment of Alex Salmond and several others.

  3. sadscot says:

    In a recent Herald article Forbes was accused of failing to declare a conflict of interest in a particular register. The “conflict” was her religion. People of faith really need to think about the implications there. Meanwhile, Yousaf passed that test as he didn’t have to declare his religion, claiming he is not registered at any specific mosque and only “prays when he can”. This is the guy who frequently claims to be a “proud Muslim”. So proud he’s not even registered at a mosque but is comfortable attacking others on the grounds of religion. He’s also the guy who has been able to keep lying about why he missed the final vote on equal marriage. He’s also using the boast that he’s the “first Asian to…”. So I’d say he’s already using the religion and race cards, GB.

  4. Howard Cairns says:

    How did this corruption happen without someone doing something about it. It seems improbable that this could happen in Australia. But! If we under a left wing government, suggest Independence from UK maybe we will see the same underhand activities here too. It happened once before when we had a referendum and the vote was lost.

  5. Alastair says:

    This leadership election is fixed already by the British state. Only the Murrells know how many SNP members there are , If Ash Regan or Forbes wins , the Security services will top up their man Humzas votes. The Mothers of all parliament’s is the mother of all lies.
    Dissolve the Union.

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