Why the SNP – and Humza Yousaf – have reasons to be cheerful
Dani Garavelli’s piece on Humza Yousaf’s election massively overstates the difficulties that the Scottish National party government finds itself in (The SNP was already clouded by failure – under Humza Yousaf it could lose power altogether, 27 March). A largely popular, relentless election-winning machine has already survived the unionist mud-slinging on the NHS (where, despite the challenges of Tory austerity and Covid, waiting times are much better than in the rest of the UK) and corruption, where the badly managed ferry contracts and party funds issue have been blown out of all proportion (and pale into insignificance compared with the UK government’s corruption and incompetence, which attract far fewer column inches).
Limited progress on, for example, child poverty has to be seen against the backdrop of a much worse situation elsewhere in the UK. The SNP government has largely played a terrible hand pretty well to mitigate most of the evils sent from Westminster, and has been rewarded with victory after victory at the ballot box. While there are undoubtedly challenges for Yousaf in matching the huge success of his predecessor, things are nowhere near as bleak as this piece portrays.
• Re Matthew Goodwin’s article (Opinion, 27 March), the Scottish National party has not “imploded” – the election of a continuity leader ensures that most members will not leave it, and the Northern Ireland Windsor agreement makes it even more attractive for Scotland to leave the union and rejoin the EU.
Second, it is strange to hear of increased graduate supporters as a disadvantage to a lawmaking party, even though most of them come from working-class families – Labour was founded and nurtured by educated “elites” anyway.
Third, the accusation that Labour is for unlimited immigration and “hyper-globalisation” is taken straight out of the Tory/European Research Group attack book. The biggest danger is clearly Keir Starmer’s vow to “make Brexit work” – an impossible task and one that the older Brexit voter would trust the Tories to do better anyway.
Prof Dr Ramesh Biswas
• Interesting that two leaders of their party and country – Rishi Sunak and Humza Yousaf – both have Asian heritage, and that that is the issue which has been focused on. There are two other similarities, in that both were crowned by their party, not the electorate, and both were privileged private schoolboys, part of the elite 7%, with all the advantages that this provides to dominate key political positions.
• As a Scot and a lifelong international socialist, I’ve never had much time for the nationalism of the Scottish National party. That said, I do agree with the late Tom Nairn that the breakup of the current structure of imperial Britain would be a step forward. On another note, with Humza Yousaf elected SNP leader, at last one of the four nations will have a beard-wearer in charge.
• I note with interest that Humza Yousaf won the SNP leadership contest by a margin of 52% to 48%. Sounds familiar. I hope no one objects to this small majority.
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