I don’t think any sane person can now doubt that the Scottish National Party (SNP), the party of government in Scotland since 2007, is now in serious trouble.
Disaster follows disaster and catastrophe follows catastrophe, and all the while First Minister Humza Yousaf does a passing impression of a rabbit caught in the headlights and appears to be clueless as to what he should do next.
You could almost feel sorry for him – almost – but he is an ambitious person, one who has been promoted beyond his competency level by dint of not rocking the boat or appearing to be on even a nodding acquaintance with original thought. That he appears to be unable or unwilling to recognise this speaks volumes.
He must be rueing his decision to be designated the “continuity candidate” during the recent SNP leadership contest. Now he is shadowed everywhere by the ghost of Nicola Sturgeon, the former First Minister with whose policies and practices Yousaf was pledged to continue.
Ms Sturgeon’s fall from grace has been spectacular, and Yousaf is badly tainted by association. He is now clearly trying to disassociate himself from his predecessor but with little success. If there are any spectacular revelations in the near future he is likely to be even more badly damaged.
The SNP itself is riven by dissent. Once famous for its rigid party discipline, it has now descended into a farrago of internecine conflict between factions. A coup d’etat saw Westminster leader Ian Blackford replaced by the hitherto anonymous Stephen Flynn.
Maverick MP Angus Brendan McNeil, suspended by the SNP following a row with Chief Whip Brendan O’Hara, has declined to rejoin the fold and now sits as an independent, declaring that his former party is “clueless” over Scottish independence.
Veteran MSP and former cabinet minister Fergus Ewing has threatened to stand down if the long-promised pledge to dual the whole of the A9 trunk road is not met – and knowing him I think he means it. This road runs down the spine of Scotland connecting the Highlands with the central belt and is one of the most dangerous in the country.
And on top of all this eight or nine (it’s hard to keep up) SNP MPs at Westminster have signalled their intention not to stand again at next year’s General Election, including the party’s deputy leader in the House of Commons Mhairi Black. Few tears will be shed at her departure.
Many excuses have been presented as to why these MPs are standing down, but the common factor is that most if not all of them are not likely to be re-elected. Current polls for the SNP are dire, both in Westminster and Holyrood.
The biggest millstone around party leader Yousaf’s neck is, however, the SNP’s coalition agreement with the Scottish Green Party in the Scottish parliament. The SNP failed to get an absolute majority in the last Scottish parliamentary elections although they won the biggest number of seats.
They then chose not to govern as a minority administration – as the SNP had done under Alex Salmond’s leadership – but entered an unholy alliance with the Greens. Under the terms of the Bute House Agreement, which cemented their relationship, the SNP agreed to adopt some of their new partners’ policies, plus grant them two junior ministerial posts, in return for the Greens support in government.
By common consent this arrangement has proved to be disastrous for the SNP. Most of the policies foisted upon them by the Greens have crashed and burned; the Deposit Return Scheme, put back two years because it is unworkable; the Gender Recognition Reform Bill (supported by most parties in Scotland to be fair), stymied by the UK Supreme Court. And the Highly Protected Marine Areas initiative, similarly abandoned in the face of wholesale opposition from Scotland’s fishing communities.
The latest piece of nonsense from the SNP/Greens is the pledge to cut carbon emissions by 75 percent by 2030 and force Scotland to reach so-called ‘net zero’ by 2045, five years ahead of the UK.
Achieving this will require all gas boilers to be replaced with climate-friendly – and hugely expensive – heating systems such as heat pumps. Tellingly, Scots may not be able to sell their properties if they have gas boilers.
I won’t mention again that his coalition partners are Marxists masquerading as environmentalists because you’re probably fed up hearing it, but that’s what they are.
If he doesn’t rip up the Bute House Agreement and dump the Greens he may not even be First Minister when Scotland goes to the polls in three years’ time.
Lt Col Stuart Crawford is a defence analyst and former army officer. Sign up for his podcasts and newsletters at www.DefenceReview.uk
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