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‘Insult to injury.’

Humza’s long-awaited plan turns into a lost weekend.

Sunday, October 8, 2023
5 mins

In our last post we marked the passing of Winnie Ewing and the special independence convention in Dundee as a new phase in the demise of the SNP.

We had no idea how bad it was going to be. Neither, we suspect, did Humza Yousaf or any of his dwindling support. 

The speech was bad enough. Rather than clarify the route map, it had the opposite effect, and his post-convention comments to the press generated further confusion. And so now, only days after the event which was supposed to rally mass support and reassure the scunnered faithful, we are none the wiser. The question now is not so much ‘do they have a plausible route-map for independence?’ as ‘do they have any interest in independence at all?’. 

‘In the hall, contributions from branch members likewise reflected a plurality of interpretations, and to that extent Yousaf’s speech was a success in that every listener was able to find something in it that appealed to them.’ Libby Brooks, The Observer

The obvious corollary is that no-one was entirely happy with it either. 

Some observers were surprised to see Ash Regan taking to the stage (just as she may herself have been surprised) following in the footsteps of Pete Wishart, the great Alba-slayer, who seems as likely to accept Salmond’s proffered hand of friendship as he is to be offered his dream job as Speaker of the House of Commons. Regan enjoyed having a dig at Wishart because he appears to have accepted that some degree of unity is now necessary if he is to keep his job, sorry, if the movement is to survive, but his speech, unusually short for someone who is known to enjoy bombast, was light on detail. Rather, Wishart tried to convey the intensity of his ‘feelz’, the optimism he was registering. It was all so moving and energising that he got off the stage as soon as decently possible. Tommy Sheppard, whose roots allegedly lie in comedy, cut a stern figure, shouting his head off for his allotted span, issuing a stream of promises disguised as impatient threats. But we know that the SNP cohort at Westminster are nothing if not patient.

One wonders who is responsible for Humza’s security. The degree of threat presented by members of a paying audience who are members of the party he leads may not be easily calculable but whoever is responsible for ensuring his safety should perhaps be more worried about Humza than anyone else. That he stopped his much-anticipated speech to acknowledge the presence of a heckler was understandable. But what followed was not. Any party leader is entitled to expect an appropriate level of protection. Regardless of one’s political stance or opinion of the man, that he was permitted to get so close to the distressed woman that she could have struck him is flatly unbelievable. That he was then allowed to place his hands upon her is unforgivable. He may have believed that he was doing the right and charitable thing but the still photographs tell a different story. Whoever was responsible for his security in Caird Hall on Saturday should be sacked.

And now the fall-out. Wings has published yet another landmark analysis, calmly explaining to Ash Regan and colleagues why now is the time for them to make their move. 

Wings Over Scotland | The Burning House

We have good reason to believe that Ash, in particular, pays close attention to Wings. But will she heed the advice? A quick scan of today’s Twitter exchanges could help make her mind up - if the schism between SNP and Alba supporters was serious last week, it has now moved onto something more akin to civil war. Threats are being issued, profane language abounds, there’s a whole lot of blocking going on. 

But there is no sign that the First Minister, or any of his advisors, have the slightest intention of joining any form of Scotland United coalition. Indeed, it is hard to find any SNP acknowledgement of it at all.

And that is not so much an impasse as an insult, not only to the estimated 8,000 Alba members, many of whom are ex-SNP, but to the genuine independence supporters who went to Dundee in good faith, earnestly hoping to hear something positive. And they did - they heard a lot of positivity but it was the usual spin, bluster, and rhetoric. They heard yet more promises. Some of them returned home to dutifully regurgitate it all via social media, angrily slamming Alba members as ‘splitters’. 

But as the hours and days tick by, the reality of the SNP crisis is becoming impossible to ignore. In their quiet moments, looking back on the events of Saturday, there must be many SNP members now wishing they’d gone to Stirling instead.

As we write, Alex Salmond and Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh are hosting the Wee Alba Book show in Troon. 

This event is the 57th Wee Alba Blue Book gathering.

Another morning after: 

This is Jamie Hepburn, speaking to STV’s Colin Mackay about the apparent contradictions in Yousaf’s grand ‘strategy’ for independence. 

He hasn’t even the decency to keep a straight face - try as he might (and he doesn’t even appear to be trying) he just can’t hide that duper’s delight.(*)

(*) ‘Duper’s delight’: a micro-expression that psychopaths sometimes display when they are lying or manipulating someone. It is a sign of pleasure that they are getting out of controlling and deceiving another person. Duping delight is often inappropriate to the situation or the topic that is being spoken about. If you see someone displaying duping delight, it is a good indication that they are lying or manipulating you.

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