Iain Macwhirter

Iain Macwhirter

Iain Macwhirter is a former BBC TV presenter and was political commentator for The Herald between 1999 and 2022. He is an author of Road to Referendum and Disunited Kingdom: How Westminster Won a Referendum but Lost Scotland.

John Swinney’s wounds are self-inflicted

John Swinney has said that he will make sure the public sees enough of him over the election campaign. But do they want to? In the latest Survation poll, conducted for True North over the weekend he is now the third most popular leader in this race of also-rans, with an approval rating of -7.  Sir Keir

The SNP has finally given up on Greta Thunberg

It is less than three years since Nicola Sturgeon was taking selfies with Greta Thunberg at the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow. Now in this election the climate, if you’ll excuse the pun, has changed beyond all recognition. Gone is the moral posturing and climate alarmism of recent years as the Scottish parties desperately roll

Can Scottish Labour really vanquish the SNP?

There is a distinct air of unreality about the position of the Scottish Labour party as it enters this election campaign. Frankly, many in the party don’t believe opinion polls suggesting, as YouGov did last week, that they are 10 per cent ahead of the SNP and could return up to 35 MPs on 4

The SNP vows to make poverty history – again

There is a weary inevitability about Scotland’s First Minister, John Swinney, promising to ‘eradicate child poverty’ as his ‘single most important objective’. We’ve been here before. Both Humza Yousaf and Nicola Sturgeon promised to do exactly the same. Indeed, those of us with long memories recall the Scottish Labour minister, Wendy Alexander, vowing in 1999 at the dawn

Everything is an emergency after SNP rule

After nearly 17 years in office the Scottish government has finally accepted the truth: it is incompetent. It has declared a National Housing Emergency – effectively a vote of no confidence in itself. ‘Honest’ First Minister John Swinney has thrown up his hands and said: it’s a fair cop, in anticipation of the Scottish parliament

Has the SNP really turned its back on identity politics?

The term ‘progressive’ has been much abused in the past decade. Originally a term denoting enlightenment and social universalism, it became synonymous with the tribalism of identity politics and unenlightened transgender ideology. But perhaps this new ‘woke’ variant of progressivism has had its day. At any rate, change is in the air in Scotland.  The chaotic disintegration of the

John Swinney will lead the SNP into oblivion

The coronation of John Swinney, a 60-year-old yesterday’s man, as SNP leader is bleak news for the independence movement. When Swinney – a three-time loser if ever there was one – was last leader, he took the SNP to 20 per cent in the 2003 European elections. In the 2004 general election the next year,

The war on Kate Forbes

Kate Forbes has yet to throw her hat into the ring for the SNP leadership race, but already the campaign is underway to block her. As in last year’s election, when Forbes ran close against Humza Yousaf, she is being attacked for her religious beliefs and opposition to transgender ideology. Forbes is being portrayed on

Whoever wins the SNP leadership race, the party loses

None of the candidates for the SNP leadership has declared yet, but it is shaping up to be a classic two horse race between the former leader, and Nicola Sturgeon bag man, John Swinney and the socially conservative former finance secretary, Kate Forbes. But in this race, they are both losers before they start. To turn

Did Nicola Sturgeon kill Humza Yousaf’s Alba deal?

After the tears, the recriminations. Just who scuppered the putative deal between Humza Yousaf and Ash Regan MSP that could have saved Yousaf’s bacon? The Alba leader, Alex Salmond, told the BBC’s World at One that Humza Yousaf had been on the phone to Regan at 7.30 a.m. today to say that her terms were ‘very

Humza Yousaf quits – what next?

14 min listen

Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf has just announced his intention to resign. Lucy Dunn speaks to Katy Balls and Spectator contributor Iain Macwhirter about how the past few weeks have led to this point and what to expect from an SNP leadership contest.

The final tragedy of ‘Humza the Brief’

The resignation of Humza Yousaf as First Minister of Scotland marks not just the beginning of the end for him, nor simply for the 17-year long SNP government, but for any hopes of Scottish independence happening in the lifetime of most SNP members. Yousaf might even take devolution with him since the Scottish public are at

How Humza Yousaf could survive

Did Humza Yousaf think it through? When he decided, late on Wednesday night, to pull the plug on the Green-SNP coalition arrangement, did he game-out the consequences? That is the question political Scotland is asking this morning as Yousaf’s job hangs, by common agreement, in the balance 24 hours after he unilaterally ended the Bute House cooperation

Is this the beginning of the end for Humza Yousaf?

15 min listen

After two and a half years in government together, Humza Yousaf has terminated the SNP’s governing pact with the Scottish Greens. The decision was rubber stamped at a hastily arranged meeting of the Scottish cabinet on Thursday morning. It preempts a vote by rank-and-file Green members on whether to walk away from Yousaf’s government after he ditched

Is this the beginning of the end for Humza Yousaf?

Scottish politics may be about to enter the abyss following the disintegration of the Green-SNP coalition. The Scottish Conservatives have tabled a vote of no confidence in First Minister Humza Yousaf and he might very well lose it, now the Greens are out of the government. They only have 63 MSPs since the former community

Free the Greens from the SNP’s clutches!

I have not been entirely flattering about the performance in government of the Scottish Green party ministers, Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater. I have accused them of being responsible for most of the policy failures that have defined Humza Yousaf’s annus horribilis. Everything from the Deposit Return Scheme for bottles and cans to the Gender Recognition

Can things get worse for the SNP?

16 min listen

It’s been quite the week for the SNP. Questions remain over the future of the Sandyford gender clinic, ‘the tartan Tavistock’; the Scottish government ditched its flagship climate change target; and former party chief executive, and husband of Nicola Sturgeon, Peter Murrell was rearrested on embezzlement charges.  What does this all mean for the SNP?

Peter Murrell’s re-arrest has plunged the SNP into crisis

There is what can only be described as a mood of despair in SNP circles following the news that the former party chief executive Peter Murrell, husband of Nicola Sturgeon, has been re-arrested and charged with ’embezzlement of funds from the Scottish National party’. It is the latest shocking twist in the long-running investigation into