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ANDREW LIDDLE: SNP are having their Corbyn and Truss moment

The new SNP leader won't be up to the job of first minister, whoever wins. It's good news for Labour, less so for the rest of us right now.

Jeremy Corbyn, Liz Truss, Kate Forbes, Humza Yousaf and Ash Regan
Labour and the Tories have made terrible choices for leader, so is it the SNP's turn now?

Two recent leadership contests have come to define the kamikaze nature of contemporary British politics.

In 2015, the Labour Party, reeling from the defeat of the inadequate Ed Miliband, decided to throw away decades of rehabilitation work by electing the neo-Trotskyist Jeremy Corbyn as leader.

Less than a decade later, the Conservative Party would experience a similar moment, having lost its identity and sense of purpose following Boris Johnson’s demise and turning – albeit briefly – to the lunatic Liz Truss.

In both cases, it was British politics and the British people who suffered.

To this utterly (un)illustrious list it seems we can now add a third leadership election: the SNP in 2023.

The writer Andrew Liddle nest to a quote: "as with Corbyn and Truss – we, the people, have to live under an incompetent in the meantime."

The fact alone that Humza Yousaf is now considered the frontrunner to become the new SNP leader tells you everything you need about the quality of the contest.

He is like King Midas, only everything he touches turns to catastrophe.

Yousaf record makes him a poor choice for SNP leader

An MSP since 2011, his only achievement has been utterly failing at every ministerial job he has been given, and yet somehow still being promoted.

Transport, Justice and now Health – three of the most important devolved ministries – have all been engulfed in chaos and ultimately irreparably damaged by Yousaf’s stewardship.

Humza Yousaf in front of a Humza for Scotland poster.
Humza Yousaf is tipped to become SNP leader – and First Minister. Image: PA.

We can only be thankful that, for now at least, he has not managed to get his hands on finance, the economy or education.

Senior SNP politicians and members who think his track record of disaster will somehow stop on the steps of Bute House are deluding themselves and damaging the country.

Then there is his platform.

Yousaf’s positioning of himself as ‘continuity’ Nicola Sturgeon might be an electoral tactic. But it is one that does not bode well for his prospects as SNP leader.

Indeed, while Sturgeon claimed to not have the energy left for the job, her resilience was undoubtedly sapped by the gross policy failures of the last six months.

Humza Yousaf and Nicola Sturgeon in the Scottish Parliament.
Humza Yousaf – the continuity Nicola Sturgeon candidate?

Gender recognition reform, the deposit return scheme and the ban on alcohol advertising are just three examples that immediately spring to mind.

That Yousaf is apparently determined to continue with these disastrous policies – not to mention the coalition of calamity with the Scottish Green Party – reflects poorly on his judgement.

Forbes’ shot at SNP leader role is all but finished

Kate Forbes, the Finance Secretary once removed, is a far better administrator and would be a far better First Minister. But it now seems all but certain she will be rejected by SNP members because of her conservative views on social issues.

That’s if she even makes it to the end of the contest.

Kate Forbes
Kate Forbes’ comments on same sex marriage and gender reform may have cost her the SNP leadership: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

Forbes’ willingness to speak honestly and directly is, in some ways, refreshing, if only because she comes from a Nationalist tradition where expressing an opinion divergent from the leadership is anathema.

But she has also proved herself startlingly naïve to think that stating such views would not lead to a backlash among socially progressive SNP members, the very constituency she needs to court in her bid to become leader.

Labour – and Union – look set to be the winner here

The final contender is Ash Regan, whose only credential to lead the SNP seems to be that she was so disgusted with SNP policy that she resigned from the SNP government.

The epitome of ‘didn’t know who she was until she wasn’t’, she has no platform beyond trashing the record of her own party in power and offering extreme solutions to a party membership hungry for action of any sort.

In that respect, she could be the SNP’s Jeremy Corbyn.

Just as the Labour Party was the chief beneficiary of lunatic Liz’s 49 days in office at a UK level, so too will it profit electorally in Scotland once the SNP has a new leader, whoever it is.

That may lead to better government and a more secure Union in the future.

The only problem is that – as with Corbyn and Truss – we, the people, have to live under an incompetent in the meantime.