SNP has damaged case for independence by 'incompetence in government', warns former deputy leader

Humza Yousaf arrives at Bute House to announce his resignation
Humza Yousaf arrives at Bute House to announce his resignation -Credit:AFP via Getty Images

The SNP has damaged the case for Scottish independence by its "incompetence in government", a former deputy leader of the party has warned.

Jim Sillars told the Record the Nationalists now had to find a new leader "who know's what the people's priorities are".

The former SNP MP also said he would support Kate Forbes if she decided to enter the leadership contest.

He spoke out after another dramatic day in Scottish politics which saw Humza Yousaf announce his resignation as First Minister after just over a year in Bute House.

John Swinney emerged as the frontrunner to lead the SNP for a second time last night after he was endorsed by several leading Nationalists, including Stephen Flynn and Ian Blackford.

Sillars, who won the famous Govan by-election victory in 1988, said: "The resignation was inevitable.

"Humza Yousaf set off as the continuity candidate and the continuity First Minister, seemingly unaware the Sturgeon legacy, to which he adhered, was one of mess and mediocrity, and handcuffed to the zealots in the Green party. That was bound to end in tears."

The former MP continued: "What the independence movement needs now is a Scottish Government that is competent, that is led by someone who knows what the people's priorities are.

"Reversing the decline in education. Not just talking about, but reforming the NHS to make it more effective. Building houses for people who have no homes.

"And addressing the deep-seated economic problems faces at the present time. Those are the people's priorities.

"And if we have a First Minister who can wipe the Sturgeon/Yousaf slate clean, and clearly indicate the next two years are going to be different, then the SNP can in fact recover.

"There is only one person who has that ability at the present time, and that is Kate Forbes. And I shall be voting for her if she puts her hat in the ring for the leadership."

Sillars added: "Many people make the mistake the SNP equals independence. It doesn't. But the SNP is an important instrument in advancing the cause of independence.

"It has been damaging the cause of independence by its incompetence in government. If we get a First Minister who is competent, and begins to serve the people better, then we resume the upward trajectory of the independence movement."

It comes as a former SNP minister warned against a "coronation" for John Swinney.

Alex Neil used a column in the Record to argue for an open leadership contest.

He said: "The devious attempts by the party hierarchy to stitch the leadership up for John Swinney, which became obvious yesterday, would be a fatal mistake.

"John is far too closely associated with the Sturgeon era and the mess which poor Humza inherited. He is Yesterday’s Man.

"The new SNP leader must be in tune with the hopes and aspirations of the Scottish people and be able to connect with them at all levels."

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