Politics explained

Who is winning the Scottish leadership race? Not the SNP

It seems much longer than five weeks since Nicola Sturgeon announced her intention to resign as first minister of Scotland and as leader of the Scottish National Party. Since her decision to depart frontline politics, and from a position of relative political strength and stability, the SNP has gone into apparent meltdown. Whoever gets to succeed Sturgeon will have to rebuild the party and the cause of independence as well as govern the country.

How’s the leadership election going?

Badly. Three candidates, Humza Yousaf, Kate Forbes and Ash Regan, have all been colleagues in the SNP and ministers in the devolved administration for some time (though Regan is now a backbencher). However, in their public appearances and televised hustings they have bickered so much that they resemble a triangular firing squad. It’s sometimes said leadership elections are a ‘healing process’ and an opportunity for a party to renew itself. Indeed, Sturgeon, in her final speech as leader this week, said the “fractious” battle is a necessary “moment to change, refresh and renew”. That sounds like spin.


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