Scotland

Will the SNP manifesto win back disillusioned voters?

‘Is the biggest problem for the SNP at this election,’ a Times journalist quizzed Scotland’s First Minister John Swinney this morning, ‘a deficit of enthusiasm?’ The SNP leader was in Edinburgh, launching the party’s general election manifesto. It focused on public service improvement, eradication of child poverty, worker’s rights and, of course, Scottish independence. But enthusiasm for the party is hitting new lows – and at a time when the Westminster group looks on track to lose over half its seats in the election, was the manifesto enough to convince Scotland’s undecided voters to vote SNP? Independence may be ‘page one, line one’ of the SNP’s manifesto, but it was only first

When will the SNP admit its independence dream is over?

Line one page one of the SNP manifesto is, as promised, about independence. If the SNP wins a majority of seats it will ‘be empowered to begin immediate negotiations with the UK government to give democratic effect to Scotland becoming an independent country’. Well in your dreams. No one seriously believes that independence is coming, even in the SNP. The leadership has been underplaying independence in this election so far; John Swinney hardly mentioned it in the first leaders debate. The nationalists realise that it is better not to call this 2024 general election any kind of ‘de facto referendum’ as Nicola Sturgeon claimed it would be. This is for the

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Labour ditches Scottish candidate over ‘pro-Russian’ posts

It’s a day ending in ‘y’ which means that a political party somewhere is having candidate drama. This time it’s Sir Keir Starmer’s lefty Labour lot, who have had to drop their Aberdeenshire North and Moray East candidate over controversial social media posts about Russia and antisemitism. Oh dear… Andy Brown shared contentious posts about the 2018 Salisbury poisonings, in which the nerve agent Novichok was used in an attempt to take the lives of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. The links shared by the ex-Labour candidate raised doubts about Putin’s involvement in the attack and suggested that the life-threatening nerve agent did not come from Russia.

How the Scottish Tories can survive

‘The thing is,’ says one Conservative member of the Scottish parliament, ‘that we wanted rid of him – just not like this.’ Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross’s decision to stand in next month’s General Election infuriated colleagues. His response to that backlash – to resign his position – has driven some of them positively apoplectic with rage. If Douglas Ross’s successor wishes to see a revival in the political centre-right in Scotland, their first decision should be to abolish the party they lead The Scottish Conservatives, revived from near death by former leader Ruth Davidson, are now heading towards polling day under the stewardship of a man who’s made it

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Humza Yousaf attacks Farage and Braverman

Humza Yousaf is back with a bang. Now the embattled politician has taken to the Grauniad’s opinion pages to write a fiery piece on ‘anti-Muslim hatred’. In an explosive entry, the ex-SNP leader claims that Muslims across the continent are ‘fearful’ due to ‘growing popularity and mainstreaming of the far right’. ‘It is increasingly difficult to persuade fellow Muslims that Europe does not have a problem with our very existence,’ he notes. In 2024, almost half the world’s population will take part in elections. Many countries have already gone to the polls, and in a number of countries, particularly across Europe, the biggest gains have been made by those who

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iPad scandal MSP accepts £12,000 ‘golden goodbye’

Dear oh dear. Back to Scotland and the chaos of the SNP. Former health secretary Michael Matheson was suspended for 27 days and received a 54-day salary ban last month after he tried to use the public purse to cover his £11,000 iPad data roaming bill. Now it transpires that the Nat has accepted a £12,000 ‘golden goodbye’ despite his suspension. Talk about shameless… Although the former minister was hit with one of the harshest punishments that Holyrood’s standards committee has ever dished out, it turns out that Matheson has still accepted £12,712.25 of resettlement grant money. Holyrood’s rules allow for cabinet ministers to receive 90 days’ pay when they

‘For the first time ever I might not vote’: East Renfrewshire’s voters are switching off 

The SNP has dominated Scotland since 2015. In an election held just months after the independence referendum, the country turned almost entirely yellow – with the exception of just three seats. Subsequent national polls have resulted in nothing more than modest change. The question this time is whether the SNP’s hold over Scotland is about to break – and nowhere is this issue more pressing than in Scotland’s central belt. The bellwether constituency of East Renfrewshire is facing a unique three-horse race between Scotland’s main parties. But despite the abundance of choice on offer to constituents this time, there’s just one problem: they’ve fallen out of love with politics. ‘I

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Salmond wages war on STV

Uh oh. Back to Scotland where, for once, the chaos doesn’t concern the country’s biggest nationalist party. This time Alex Salmond’s pro-independence group, Alba, is in the spotlight over a rather public debacle with Scottish broadcasters STV. Salmond has taken issue with STV’s decision to move his party’s election broadcast slot from this Friday – the same day Scotland will play Germany in the Euros – to next week. The broadcaster changed the timings over concerns that the party would have an ‘unfair advantage’ if the screening went out before or after the game – to which Alba have responded by sending out a number of fiery press releases that

The SNP shouldn’t celebrate being tied with Labour

It is a measure of the extent of the SNP’s decline that nationalist activists have seized on a new Ipsos poll that shows the party is now neck and neck with Scottish Labour. After all, it was only 18 months ago that the same company suggested the SNP enjoyed the support of more than half of people in Scotland, with Anas Sarwar’s party languishing on 25 per cent. Two resignations, a campervan and several unpopular policies later, however, and the SNP is now regularly recorded as being behind Scottish Labour, in one recent poll by as much as 10 points. Hence the excitement in otherwise weary nationalist circles that they may

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Nicola Sturgeon’s ITV hypocrisy

Back to Scotland, where the SNP’s Dear Leader is back in the news — literally, this time. It transpires that Nicola Sturgeon will be one of ITV’s election night pundits during the overnight vote count. The former first minister will appear alongside Ed Balls and George Osborne to provide expert analysis while the election results come out, with Sturgeon billed by the broadcaster as a ‘political insider’. You can say that again… But where Sturgeon goes, drama is never too far behind. Predictably the former FM’s critics have been quick to lambast the ex-SNP leader, with charges of hypocrisy levelled at Sturgeon for accepting a gig her party once blasted

An audience member had the best line during the Scottish leaders’ debate

Scottish Tory leader, Douglas Ross, has said he’ll resign after the 4 July election following criticism of his treatment of a rival Tory candidate and questions over his expenses. It is unusual, to say the least, for a party leader to announce their intention to step down during a general election campaign rather than after it. Even more singular for that leader to continue representing his party in leadership debates, as Ross did on the BBC last night. That elicited the best line of the night from a quick-witted audience member: ‘You need to tidy the flat before you move out, John’ With this in mind, the best question of the night came

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Former Green leader jumps ship to Labour

Another day, another drama. As general election campaign shenanigans continue, it now transpires that Robin Harper — the UK’s first ever Green parliamentarian and former leader of the Scottish Greens — has jumped ship to Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour party. With just over three and a half weeks to go until polling day, the veteran politician has announced he is endorsing the Shadow Scotland Secretary, Ian Murray, in Edinburgh South. The writing was on the wall when the ex-Edinburgh MP revealed last week that Harper was helping as a ‘volunteer’ during his campaigning. Murray — who until last year’s Rutherglen by-election was the only Scottish Labour MP since 2019 —

Stephen Daisley

The Scottish Tories won’t accept Faragism

Douglas Ross was not a game-changing leader of the Scottish Conservatives in the way Ruth Davidson was but he announces his resignation as the game is being turned on its head. North of the border the Tories are seeing their vote hold up even as the electoral fortunes of their Sassenach brethren implode. They could come out of this election with more seats than the six they went into it with. But they are not captains of their own fate and Ross’s departure will only call attention to that.  Ross has had a tenure that at times seemed cursed and at others lucky. He had to handle the Scottish blowback

Douglas Ross has made things even worse for the Tories

You thought things couldn’t get worse for the Conservative party in this election? They just did. The Scottish Conservative leader, Douglas Ross, has announced that he is to resign his leadership following yet another alleged scandal concerning a Tory politician. Few in Ross’s own party can keep up with the twists and turns of his political ambitions Allegations were reported over the weekend that Mr Ross had used his Westminster expenses to travel around the country performing his side hustle as an assistant referee for the Scottish Football Association. Mr Ross denies acting improperly and insists that he has only ever claimed expenses related to his role as MP. Needless to say,

Isabel Hardman

Douglas Ross resigns as Scottish Tory leader

Just when you thought this election campaign couldn’t get any more tumultuous, Douglas Ross has announced he will resign as Scottish Conservative leader. He had lost the support of his colleagues – particularly those in Holyrood – following his decision to effectively take over a Westminster colleague’s constituency when that MP was seriously ill in hospital.  In a statement released this morning, Ross said he had come to the conclusion was no longer ‘feasible’ to be both an MP, MSP and party leader (something he had previously stated, but changed his mind on), but that he will continue to hold the role until after the election. He will also resign

Nigel Farage will be disappointed by his BBC debate performance

It had been called the dinner party from hell. A seven-strong convention of the also rans. But only one dinner guest really mattered: Nigel Farage. The populist politician’s last-minute decision to stand as a Reform candidate in Clacton has struck fear into the hearts of Conservative MPs across the country, but especially in the 60 marginal seats that Professor John Curtice says Reform could help the Tories lose on 4 July. The surprise of the night was a new coalition on electoral reform between Farage and the Lib Dems But none of tonight’s participants in the BBC debate were going to allow the debate to turn into the Nigel Farage show. He

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SNP’s musical campaign efforts fall on deaf ears

With only four weeks to go until the general election, party campaigns are rapidly ramping up. Politicians and staffers are desperately searching for more creative (and crazy) ways of getting voters’ attention — and north of the border the Nats have mobilised the musical wing of their party. Taylor Swift is in town for the start of the UK leg of her Eras tour and the SNP’s Swift-mania is in overdrive. One press release from the Nats managed to include a whole, um, 11 references to the star’s songs, including a line from social security secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville that read: There’s no question that the Tories are out of Style in Scotland

Stephen Daisley

Why is Douglas Ross standing for parliament again?

Not content with being a referee and leader of the Tories in Scotland, Douglas Ross seems bent on making himself even more unpopular with the punters. In doing so, he has alighted upon David Duguid, the Conservative MP for Banff and Buchan since 2017, who wrestled that once true-blue redoubt back from the SNP after 30 years of Nationalist incumbency.  Duguid, who served as a minister under Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, was preparing to stand again, under his seat’s new name of Aberdeenshire North and Moray East, when he was struck by illness and spent four weeks in intensive care. He says he’s on the road to recovery and

Isabel Hardman

Alex Salmond: We are not splitting the SNP vote

Is Alex Salmond feasting on the misery of an SNP that, having hit its high watermark, is now having to work hard to hold onto its Westminster seats? Not at all, according to the Alba leader, who told Andrew Neil on Times Radio today that he was in fact trying to help the cause of his former party by going after pro-independence voters who would otherwise have stayed at home. In so doing, of course, he was not-so-subtly suggesting that the SNP aren’t giving voters a reason to turn out at all.  There’s 20 per cent of people who are either going to stay at home or going to vote

What could explain Douglas Ross’s Westminster U-turn?

Scottish Tory Leader Douglas Ross has a side hustle as an assistant referee for the Scottish Football Association. Now, Scotland’s opposition parties are showing him the red card for his last minute decision to stand as parliamentary candidate for Aberdeenshire North and Moray East constituency. It’s a ‘stitch up,’ says the SNP. Ross is being cast as ‘shameful’, ‘nasty’ and the leader of a ‘morally bankrupt’ party for apparently elbowing aside former Tory minister, David Duguid, who’d said he was expecting to stand in the seat. Duguid has been in hospital with a spinal illness. But last night the Scottish Conservative Party Management Board announced that his ‘recovery would be put at