Humza Yousaf is leading an ungovernable SNP and an independence movement in freefall

The chaos of the last week shows Humza Yousaf is leading a party that has become ungovernable.

Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon led Scotland for seventeen years and won countless elections against an enfeebled opposition.

But the SNP in 2024 is like the Titanic after it crashed into the iceberg.

It doesn’t matter who is at the helm, or what the strategy is, the ship is sinking.

Yousaf has had a dismal first year in the job since he succeeded Nicola Sturgeon.

He is viewed as weak by voters and his allies say he is an impressionable leader who is easily swayed.

He has failed to follow up on his grand rhetoric on child poverty with action and has struggled as First Minister.

He ended the Bute House Agreement with the Greens as a way of uniting his party.

But it would be unfair to pin the blame for the SNP’s woes on Yousaf.

He inherited a party split ideologically between left wingers, right wingers and centrists.

The SNP he took over was brimming with personality clashes, feuds and long-standing grievances.

Salmond loathes Sturgeon, she despises him, and their supporters constantly try to undermined each other.

Anyone replacing Yousaf - Kate Forbes, Neil Gray or Mairi McAllan - would be odds on to fail.

Forbes is against gay marriage, opposes births out of wedlock and is relaxed about anti-abortion activists praying outside clinic.

She is a centre-right, socially conservative politician wanting to lead a centre-left and socially liberal party.

She would find herself in a daily battle with the SNP group at Holyrood, unable to get any momentum.

If Forbes had replaced Sturgeon, she would not have lasted as long as Yousaf.

Gray and McAllan would likely suffer the same fate as Yousaf by trying to hold the jackets in a warring party and pleasing nobody.

The SNP hate the Tories but they are beginning to resemble the modern day Conservative Party.

Regardless of whether it is Theresa May, Boris Johnson or Rishi Sunak, nobody is capable of leading an organisation that does not want to be led.

Both parties are looking inwards, not outwards, and have lost the capacity for self-discipline.

The divisions inside the SNP also reflect wider problems in the independence movement.

In 2014, the various elements of the Yes campaign put aside their differences for the purpose of trying to win the campaign.

But nine and a half years later Scottish independence seems as likely as someone finally taking a picture in focus of the Loch Ness monster.

The fight for independence was all that held this movement together, yet there is no longer any obvious route to the final destination.

There is no coherent strategy to achieve independence. There is no real obvious appetite for independence across the majority of Scots.

Without any of those things, the wider movement finds itself without the glue that binds it together and is collapsing.

Bitter turf wars have replaced the fragile unity that was once in place.

The SNP leader has kicked out the Greens from government because he thinks they are too extreme.

The Greens cannot stand Yousaf and they refuse to share a platform with Salmond.

Alba regularly taunt the Greens and try to undermine the SNP as part of the vendetta between Salmond and Sturgeon.

The independence movement used to be relatively united but is now more divided and aimless than at any point in history.

Yousaf may survive a confidence vote next week or he may be forced out after a humiliating defeat.

He could be replaced by Forbes, McAllan, Gray or even Jenny Gilruth.

But the fundamental issues facing the SNP and the Yes movement are far greater than any one person.

The SNP faces a long period in opposition and the party needs to use a likely defeat as an opportunity to renew.

The party of Salmond and Sturgeon came from the fringes to becoming the dominant party of Scotland.

Independence is dead in the short to medium term, but with a generational shift and unity of purpose it can come back.

To sign up to the Daily Record Politics newsletter, click here