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Shift to right will ‘destroy’ SNP, warns deputy Westminster leader

18 Feb 2023 3 minute read
Mhairi Black MP. Photo by David Woolfall is licensed under CC BY 3.0.

A possible move to the right could “kill” the SNP, one of the party’s leading figures has warned.

Writing in The National newspaper, the SNP’s deputy Westminster leader Mhairi Black warned any “turn to the right” socially or fiscally could “alienate” swathes of voters and members as the party sets to deciding who will be its next leader and First Minister following the resignation of Nicola Sturgeon.

The intervention comes as figures such as Kate Forbes, who has been criticised for her views on same-sex marriage and abortion, are touted for the top job.

But no SNP figures have formally announced a leadership bid as of yet.

Ash Regan, who broke the whip to vote against the Gender Recognition Act, has also been touted as a possible successor to Nicola Sturgeon.

Electoral credibility

Ms Black, who is the SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South, wrote: “Any turn to the right, fiscally or socially, would risk alienating a huge slice of our membership and our electoral credibility.

“Even practically speaking, any attempt to move the party to the right would destroy the main motivation for many activists out chapping doors and convincing others that Scotland can take a different path to that which the rest of the UK is following.

“Take that reason away and you’ll very quickly find no-one under the age of 35 willing to deliver any of your leaflets.”

On Friday, The Scotsman reported Kate Forbes was seen as an early frontrunner in a Savanta poll commissioned by the newspaper.

Ms Forbes is currently on maternity leave from her role as Finance Secretary.

Around 18% of SNP voters at last year’s Holyrood election in 2021 chose Ms Forbes to succeed Ms Sturgeon as party leader and First Minister.

The Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch MSP is also most popular among members of the public with 14% backing her, according to the poll.

Former SNP leader at Westminster and current Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, Angus Robertson, is the next most popular.

14% of SNP voters and 9% of the Scottish public backed the Edinburgh Central MSP.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney has ruled out a run, but received 11% of SNP voters’ backing and 9% of the public’s.

Just 7% of SNP voters backed Health Secretary Humza Yousaf, who has come under fire for “seriously considering” a leadership bid despite opponents calling for his resignation over his handling of the NHS.

All contenders will have work to do to boost their profiles, however, with 34% of SNP voters stating they do not know who they would favour and almost half of the public also stating they did not know.

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Jonathan Edwards
1 year ago

Shift right = destroy SNP depends on which group you are talking about. Moving from liberal left to authoritarian left, as the SNP and Plaid have done, limits their appeal. Its amazing the SNP has held up as well as it has, but also no surprise that eventually it clearly wants to avoid going anti-liberal and anti-humanist left and is now going to re-assess. The SNP (and Plaid) could benefit by losing the activists which took them (and Twitter) into ‘go woke = go broke’ territory. It might gain activists of greater competence and realism. And it might gain wider… Read more »

1 year ago

Look who complains loudest in these crises though – another supporter of Indy for reasons other than her nation’s independence chooses to play politics rather than forward the non-party political cause of emancipation. All the London-based SNP and Plaid politicians, all the losers (literally, those who lost seats) – we should refuse to take any of them seriously. Then again, with Plaid entering coalitions and pacts with unionist parties, the SNP flailing around because they tried to pretend to be New Zealand or Canada before actually becoming a free state, Sinn Fein starting to ignore the North in favour of… Read more »

Lib Dem YesCymru infiltrator
Lib Dem YesCymru infiltrator
1 year ago

The times are changing.
Labour, Plaid, SNP each in their own way toyed with the populist identity obsessed Left.
It was a failure. Time to move on.
Labour has moved on. The SNP is about to. Plaid will take a while.

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