Drama in Scotland – could there be a Holyrood election?

Who would have thought that Scottish voters could face two national elections this year – and the first one for the Scottish Parliament before the too-long awaited Westminster poll?

If First Minister Humza Yousaf is forced to resign in the next few days, if the SNP can’t agree on a successor, if the Parliament can’t agree on a new First Minister within 28 days, then Scottish voters could be going to the polls on 4th July.

The SNP has been sharing power with the Scottish Greens for the past two and a half years with Green Co-Conveners Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater holding ministerial office. This morning Humza Yousaf handed them their jotters in an early morning meeting before announcing to the world that he had decided that the SNP would be better off going it alone as a minority Government.

You have to wonder whether he had thought through the implications for his own future. It wasn’t difficult to imagine that someone would put up a motion of no confidence and equally predictable that the party that he had just unceremoniously booted out of Government would not find it in their hearts to support him.

As things stand, his best hope is a tied vote next week, relying on the casting vote of the Presiding Officer to save him. But even that can only be achieved by doing a deal with Ash Regan, his former leadership rival who went off and joined Alex Salmond’s socially conservative, populist Alba party. And even if he survives the vote, clinging to power by your fingernails is not the best way to lead your party into a UK General Election.

You have to wonder why he let that happen.

There are undoubtedly some in the SNP who have been wanting rid of Humza since he was elected.

Last year’s SNP leadership election was so close with Humza only just beating Kate Forbes. Deep divisions were exposed within the party. Now the SNP can take a fair amount of division. They are a very broad church. But the only thing they really care about is independence and when they are divided on how to achieve that, and the prospect of it ever happening is moving further and further away, they are going to implode.  It’s hard to think of anyone in their ranks who could come close to bringing them together.

Their Government is failing at pretty much everything, as Alex Cole-Hamilton said in no uncertain terms at First Minister’s Questions today.

The two partners to this failed agreement are at each others’ throats. They are now trying to blame each other, but in reality they have both failed the people of Scotland.

Together they have cut our NHS off at its knees, butchered the housing budget, junked climate targets and made life harder for businesses. Islanders still don’t have the ferries they desperately need and Scottish schools are tumbling down the international rankings.

Two clowns have left the clown car, but the circus continues. We don’t just need an end to the Bute House Agreement, we need an end to this entire government.

Later, on Twitter, he said that the Scottish Liberal Democrats have no confidence in either the First Minister or his failing Government and would vote accordingly.

Recent opinion polls have suggested that we could gain significantly if there were an election – into double figures from our current 4 MSPs. We did much better than expected in the 2022 Council elections and since then, have substantially increased campaigning as part of a plan to reach 150 councillors in 2027.

It is by no means certain that there will be a Holyrood election within the next few months. You would imagine that the SNP would want to avoid it if they possibly could. Their record is lamentable, they are at each other’s throats and they are not exactly awash with money and surely you need at least one of these things to be going well if you are to have any chance of avoiding humiliating defeat.  If their government survives its current challenges, it will be damaged in a way that can’t be repaired before the scheduled poll of 2026.

It does feel, though, that Scotland has a realistic chance of a new beginning.   We need a Government that brings the country together and puts all its efforts into sorting out health, housing, poverty, education and our environment. Maybe we’re getting a bit closer to the new hope that Alex Cole-Hamilton has been talking about since he became leader.

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2 Comments

  • We should be stressing Our Green & Human Rights policies in Scotland & when we have to criticise The Scottish Greens, We should do it in polite terms. There is a real chance to win over some Green Voters ( 10% or so in Scottish Parliament Elections ) & the possibility of a Labour/Libdem/Green Government after The Election.
    Take Independence off the table & there is actually a fair amount of agreement between the Three Parties.

  • David Symonds 27th Apr '24 - 9:37pm

    Hoping that the SNP can be cut down to size. They are really just a one issue party ie independence. They have weakened the union and owing to first past the post have an inflated representation at Westminster. Hopefully they will no longer run Scotland after 2026 or whenever the next Scottish Parliamentary election takes place.

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