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Political Crisis in Scotland: Humza Yousaf resigns, Swinney takes helm

Political Crisis in Scotland: Humza Yousaf resigns, Swinney takes helm

On April 29 Humza Yousaf resigned as leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) and said he shall remain en poste as First Minister until such time as a replacement can be found. Yousaf, 38, has been brought down because his policy shift displeased the Green Party which had a confidence and supply agreement with the SNP.

The question is was the next First Minister will be. The blatant candidate was Kate Forbes. Yousaf beat her by only 4% points last year. She is young but not too young at 38. Miss Forbes is opposed to abortion and same sex marriage. Despite recognising that abortion is ultra-violence against children she does not seek to pass laws to protect children.

John Swinney emerged as the frontrunner to be the leader of the SNP. This is bizarre considering he failed in this post before. Swinney was elected leader of the party in 2000. He was perceived as being on the left of the party. After 4 years he was pushed out of the post because the party had had disappointing election results under him. His predecessor replaced him: Alex Salmond came back as leader and remained on for 10 years. Mr Swinney stayed in politics and was Finance Minister. This is surely the first time a failed leader is brought back 20 years later.

Miss Forbes was in talks with Mr. Swinney. She shall not seek the leadership. Therefore, Swinney will be elected unopposed. This will speed things up and the SNP really wants to turn the page on the current crisis.

Swinney agreed with Kate Forbes that she would stand aside and allow him a clear run. As he was the only candidate the 64-year-old was elected unopposed. He rewarded la Forbes by appointing her Deputy First Minister. On May 7 he was sworn in as the seventh person to be First Minister of Scotland. He is the fourth member of the SNP to hold that office. He is also the third person to keep it in 13 months!

Kate Forbes made a huge mistake in not contesting the leadership this time. She very likely would have won. She lost to Mr Yousaf only narrowly a year before. The SNP will likely lose the next election and may not return to office for decades. Her one chance to be First Minister will have gone. She might not be in politics much longer. She could well be voted out.

The new leader of the SNP and therefore First Minister is not going to have an easy task. There are several severe problems. None of these is likely to ameliorate. The SNP increased tax to funds its pledges. This had the effect of driving affluent people to South Britain to avoid the tax. Therefore, less money is gathered, and public services are even more underfunded than before.

The SNP won the last election only narrowly. The Scottish Parliament has 129 Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs). Therefore, 65 MSPs are needed for a majority. The SNP have only 63 MSPs. Therefore, to command a majority they signed the Bute House Agreement whereby the Green Party promised to vote for the budget and to support the SNP if a vote of confidence were ever held. However, in the past few weeks the SNP signalled that it would have to push back the date at which Scotland transitioned to all renewable energy. Moreover, the SNP decided not to push its pernicious transgender agenda even further.

The SNP has been in office in Scotland since 2007. Yousaf has been in office for only a year. He took over when Nicola Sturgeon stood down as First Minister after 8 years. Miss Sturgeon is thus far the only female to have held the post of First Minister. She was a hard act to follow. Sturgeon liked to boast that she won 8 elections in 8 years if you look at Scottish Parliamentary elections, UK Parliamentary elections, local elections and European elections – in those days the UK was within the European Union.

Yousaf was a disastrous Health Minister before he became First Minister. He started out with negative approval ratings and has only sunk deeper.

Mr. Yousaf is a practising Muslim. He was doing Ramadan when he became First Minister last year. His mother always wears a hijab. Yusuf’s parents shifted from Pakistan to the United Kingdom in the 1970s. Yusuf was born in Glasgow.

In Western countries some people call themselves transgender: i.e. a man who calls himself a woman or a woman who calls herself a man. These transgender people dress as the opposite sex and often changed their names and ask to be addressed by the opposite sex pronoun.

Some people call themselves nonbinary that is to say that they are not solely male or female. Some of them ask to be called ‘they’ even though this is ungrammatical because of its plurality. They want the title ‘Mx’ as in not mister or miss.

The SNP developed a strange fixation with transgender people who are 1% of the population. The SNP wanted people to be able to change their sex on their identity documents on demand. This would apply to minors too. Therefore, a girl could go to an all-boys’ school and vice versa. Critics pointed out that this would be the end of women’s sport. A man would call himself a woman and be accepted at this and therefore win all the sports competitions.

A man who was found guilty of rape defined as female. Therefore, he was sent to a women’s prison where he raped a fellow prisoner.

Yousaf’s monomania with putting men into girls’ changing rooms is surprising for a Muslim. Some Muslims felt this would outrage female modesty and common decency. He is in favour of same sex marriage. He also supports aborting babies for any reason at all. He wants to criminalise human rights activists for demonstrating in favour of children’s rights outside abortion clinics.

The SNP introduced a Hate Speech Act. This criminalised people for utterances which the SNP called hateful such as ‘misgendering’ people. If a man pretends to be a woman and you call him a man that is a crime. Within 24 hours of the bill becoming law the police received several thousand complaints about people breaking the new law. This is in a country of 5 million people. The police judged that the great majority of cases did not merit investigation.

There was growing fury and distress in Scotland at the SNP’s loony left transgender fixation. The children’s writer J K Rowling led the charge for women’s rights. Miss Rowling is a soi disant feminist and supporter of the Labour Party.

The SNP Administration is failing on multiple areas. Waiting lists to see the doctor are long and growing. Healthcare is free of charge in Scotland – paid for by taxation. The Pisa World Rankings of education have seen Scotland drop several places. There is a teacher recruitment crisis. Unqualified people are left to teach classes because the school cannot find enough teachers. Teachers regularly go on strike over pay and conditions. There is a cost-of-living crisis. Crime is rising. The SNP has raised taxes sharply. This has caused affluent people to move to England to avoid these taxes.

Because the SNP was doing so badly on bread-and-butter issues they decided to change the subject. The SNP was founded 100 years ago. Its raison d’etre is to break up the United Kingdom. The SNP was allowed to stage a referendum in 2014 on Scotland seceding from the UK. 55% of people in Scotland voted No to that proposal.

The SNP has been harping on about separation to divert attention from its dismal failures. It is the SNP’s demagogic strategy to appeal to the basest racist prejudices. They blame those evil English. That is despite Westminster having had no say on most issues in Scotland since 1999. If the Union is so bad why does the SNP take a subsidy from Westminster?

Since the 2014 referendum support in Scotland for separating from the UK has risen and then fallen. It rose at first because the Conservative Government in Westminster gave effect to the settled will of the people of the UK to leave the European Union. However, the SNP has so underperformed that the popularity of splitting from the United Kingdom has gone down again.

The UK Government refused to let the SNP hold another referendum on leaving the UK. Westminster noted that everyone agreed that the 2014 referendum settled the issue for all time.

The SNP was frustrated. They could not find a way to split from the United Kingdom. In a century the SNP has not answered the most fundamental questions about how a so-called independent Scotland would work.

What would Scotland do for defence? It would have 6 000 soldiers. The SNP says it would join NATO. As Ukraine can attest it is no easy matter. NATO might never allow Scotland in. Even one country out of 30 could veto Scotland. The SNP wants the United Kingdom’s nuclear missiles out of Scotland. But NATO would never let Scotland in without it retaining the nuclear bases.

What would Scotland for a currency? The SNP said it would keep the Pound Sterling. The United Kingdom said that would be impermissible. You cannot leave a nation state and continue to use its currency.

What would Scotland do for trade? The SNP says Scotland would rejoin the European Union. Spain vowed to veto Scottish accession to the EU forever because it would provide an example for Catalonia in Spain where many people wanted to break away. Even if Scotland does get to join the EU it may take decades. Turkey has been waiting for 37 years!

The United Kingdom found it hard with 70 million people to negotiate a Brexit trade deal. How much harder it would be for Scotland with 5 million people.

The former First Minister Alex Salmond was accused of rape by some women in 2019. He was found not guilty on all charges. Salmond then broke away from the SNP that he led for 20 years. He founded his own party called Alba (the Scots Gaelic name for Scotland).

In 2023 Humza Yousaf stood for the leadership of the SNP. He defeated Kate Forbes – a Cambridge educated Christian evangelical. He also beat Ash Regan. Ash Regan was so miffed that she left the SNP and joined the Alba Party. When she resigned from the party, Yusuf said that she was ‘no great loss.’’

When the Scottish Greens signalled that they had withdrawn support for the SNP it was patent that there would be a vote of confidence in Humza Yusuf. It all came down to Ash Regan. She held the casting vote. Had she given her ballot to Yusuf then he could have remained on as First Minister.

Yousaf must regret insulting Miss Regan. Had he not done so then she might have kept him in his job. Ash Regan must regret leaving the SNP. Had she stayed on in the party she would have had another chance of becoming First Minister.

The next election to the Scottish Parliament (Holyrood) is not due until 2026. However, if there is a vote of no confidence in the Scottish Government then that will trigger an early election. This has never happened in 25 years of devolution.

The Green Party pulled the plug on the Bute House Agreement with the SNP in April 2024 because the SNP said its pledge to shift to all renewable energy was unaffordable in the existing time frame. Yousaf resigned before a vote of no confidence was held in him. There was then a vote of confidence in the Scottish Government. It caused some surprise that the Greens voted confidence in the government. The Greens were not getting renewable energy within the originally agreed timeframe nor were they breaking up the United Kingdom by keeping the SNP. The Scottish Greens like the SNP want Scotland to withdraw from the UK.

Why did the Greens vote to keep the SNP in office albeit only when Yousaf was on his way out? It is because the SNP is closer to their own view than the only likely alternative: the Scottish Labour Party. Labour is unionist. While Labour wants to transition to all renewable energy it is not going to do so fast as to wreck the economy.

The Labour Party in Scotland is led by Anas Sarwar who like Yusuf was born in Glasgow to Pakistani parents. Sarwar is a dentist whose father was the first Muslim MP in the United Kingdom.

Scottish Labour is ebullient. From the 1950s to the 2000s they won everything in Scotland. They became deeply unpopular at the end of the Tony Blair era. At one point they were down to one MP out of 59 MPs in Scotland. Now they believe they can come back. However, such optimism is misplaced. The opinion polls show the SNP and Labour are neck and neck. With a new First Minister and some policy changes the SNP could still win the next election. The mixed system for electing Holyrood makes it very hard for a single party to win a majority.

The next Scottish Parliament election is no foregone conclusion. The SNP could still win but it is improbable. The SNP have won four such elections consecutively. They won almost everything in Scotland for ten years. They have been in office in Holyrood for 17 years! The next election to the Scottish Parliament is 2 years away.

If Labour wins the Holryood election it will likely have to enter a coalition with the Liberal Democrats which it did before in 1999. It may have to enlist the support of the Greens and Alba. Alba has only one MSP and she may well lose her seat. No party has ever won a majority in the Scottish Parliament. They only ever govern as a coalition or with confidence and supply.

The SNP’s support will not go below 35%. That is the minimum figure for those who want to break up the UK.

You can’t win them all. There is political gravity. It would be bad for democracy if the SNP were to win a 5th Holyrood election in a row.

Yousaf’s place in history is assured. He is the first Muslim elected to rule a Christian country. However, he will go down in history as the most unsuccessful First Minister of Scotland. He was a lightweight who had never worked outside politics. He was overpromoted and unimpressive.

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