The Scottish National Party (SNP) has held power in Scotland’s devolved parliament since 2007. Following Sturgeon’s resignation as first minister, the SNP members will elect a new leader. Whoever becomes the SNP’s new boss will also replace Sturgeon as Scotland’s first minister (Politico). As Reuters says, a ballot of its members will open on March 13 and close on March 27.
According to UK and EU, the ballot will use a preferential voting system, Which allows voters to rank the options. The party says they will announce the winner as soon as the final result is ready and all leadership candidates have been informed. Announcement of the winner is likely to be very soon after the close of the ballot.
What is the SNP candidate viewpoints for leadership?
How can pro-independence Scotts achieve independence?
Who can vote?
According to UK and EU, Ash Regan has asked the party to allow former members to re-join and vote. She argues that some members have resigned from their membership because of the passing of the Gender Recognition Reform Bill and that the party should allow them to participate. However, the general secretary of the SNP has said that only those SNP members who were registered by the day of Sturgeon’s resignation (February 15) can vote in the contest to replace Sturgeon.
Limiting eligibility to existing members differs from political party behaviour elsewhere. Political parties often use leadership elections as a motivation for joining a political party.
Leadership candidates’ views: Reviewing the viewpoints
Three SNP leadership candidates have been confirmed for the contest following Nicola Sturgeon’s surprise resignation. The leadership candidates are Kate Forbes, Ash Regan and Humza Yousaf. SNP candidates had until Friday, February 24, to secure 100 nominations from at least 20 local branches of the party. The new SNP leader is due to be announced on March 27. (Politico). Let’s have an overview of the leadership candidates’ policies.
Sky News says Kate Forbes was first elected to Holyrood in 2016 for the Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch constituencies. However, the 32-year-old only became a well-known person on the SNP’s frontbench in February 2020 after a last-minute promotion. Aged just 29, Ms Forbes took the role of finance minister. She has remained in this role since – through COVID, soaring energy prices and the cost of living crisis.
Ms Forbes also spoke out against the SNP leadership’s policies on gender reform. She was one of 15 SNP MSPs who signed an open letter in 2019 calling for the SNP leadership to delay any changes. She did not participate in the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill vote.
She said: “I can’t sit back and watch our nation thwarted on the road to self-determination.” She added that their small, independent neighbours enjoyed wealthier, fairer, and greener societies – and so should Scotland. She said she would have disagreed with gay marriage in Scotland in 2014 if she had been an MSP. However, she promised not to roll back existing rights in the country.
As Sky News says, Ash Regan began her Holyrood journey in 2016 after becoming Edinburgh MSP. Her highest position so far has been the minister for community safety. She took up the role in 2018.
Like Ms Forbes, Mr Regan signed the open letter calling for postponements to gender reform policies. However, she resigned from the government over the bill only hours before a vote was due. Mr Regan said her “conscience” would not allow her to support it. She said that a pro-independence majority at any election in Scotland should be enough to start negotiations to leave the UK.
According to the Guardian, Mr Regan has said she would, in effect, scrap the gender recognition reform bill. Ash Regan is the third SNP leadership candidate competing to become the SNP leader and first minister. She says Scotland will be allowed independence without a referendum if enough voters support pro-independence parties. Regan would also accelerate Scotland’s road-widening programme. Moreover, she would also slow down the move away from North Sea oil and gas extraction. However, the Greens would oppose these two policies.
According to Sky News, Humza Yousaf became an MSP in 2011. At 26, he was the youngest MSP who entered Holyrood.
Now 37, Mr Yousaf has been the health and social care secretary since 2021. In this period, the NHS has experienced colossal pressure. It was straight to Holyrood for Yousaf, taking a job as an assistant to the SNP’s Bashir Ahmad. Mr Ahmad has been Scotland’s first Muslim MSP. After Mr Ahmad’s death two years later, Yousaf carried on the role and worked as Nicola Sturgeon’s assistant. Mr Yousaf also worked as an assistant for the then-first minister Alex Salmond. Thus he solidified his place in the party.
By 2011, it was Mr Yousaf’s turn to run for a seat. After winning, he took little time to join the junior ministerial ranks. Mr Yousaf gained his big promotion in 2018 and became cabinet secretary for justice. However, his biggest challenge was taking on health and social care a year into the pandemic in 2021.
Along the same line, UK and EU website says Mr Yousaf is Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care. He has also been the Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Minister for Transport. However, he has faced criticism in these roles, most recently for high A&E waiting times in Scotland’s NHS. According to the Guardian, Yousaf argues that Scotland can gain independence only through a legally safe route.
Reviewing the viewpoints
You can choose the best SNP leadership candidate by considering the following points. As the National says, Ash Regan formally threw her hat into the ring on Friday morning. That was after a pretty tumultuous week for her leadership rivals. Kate Forbes got monstered for her declared Christian beliefs. Humza Yousaf arranged a meeting with someone. Thus he was absent with leave from the final vote on same-sex marriage. He could have placed his meeting for another time. Some people say his purpose has been to appease Muslim elders.
Scottish independence in focus
According to the National, Forbes has said, ‘Strong leadership will take us to independence.’ Kate Forbes has suggested herself as the “strong, competent” leader she believes will deliver Scottish independence. In her campaign video, Forbes pitched herself as a “unifier” for the SNP. Moreover, she stressed that she would refuse to “sit back and watch our nation thwarted on the road to self-determination”.
Ash Regan has said the most about her approach to Scottish independence. She strongly favours using the next Westminster General Election as a de facto vote on the issue. In a screenshot posted to Twitter, she said if she were elected leader, she would call an “independence convention” on day one post.
Humza Yousaf has pitched himself uncertain about the “how” of achieving Scottish independence. He has said he would not take a stance on the particulars. Instead, he pledged to “listen to … the membership” and said he was not “wedded” to using a de facto vote. Speaking at the launch of his campaign on Monday, he said: “We need to roll up our sleeves on the why we need independence, and the how will become inevitable.”
On Wednesday, Sturgeon said she wanted to resign as first minister and party leader. She told her dominance over the party, and the country was no longer the asset it once was in the fight for Scottish independence (Reuters).
Ash Regan has put pushing through an independence bid at the centre of her plans (UK and EU). Yousaf argues that Scottish independence can only be gained through a legally safe route (the Guardian). Kate Forbes says that, like our small to independent neighbours, we should enjoy a wealthier, fairer, and greener society. “(Sky News). Kate Forbes remains the best SNP leadership candidate for the independence push (the National).
The Scottish independence movement is broader than the SNP. Other political parties, including the Alba Party and the Scottish Green Party, and civil society groups, like the Radical Independence Campaign, also support Scottish independence (UK and EU). The SNP and the other pro-independence parties must unite to find a way to liberate Scotland.