Does Humza Yousaf’s resignation as Scotland’s First Minister signal the end of SNP dominance? After Yousaf arbitrarily and publicly ended his minority government’s coalition with the Green Party, it prompted motions of no confidence from Scottish Tory and Labour parties. When the Greens announced that they would vote against the SNP, the only hope was a deal with Alex Salmond’s breakaway Alba Party — but senior party figures, who have not yet forgiven Salmond for the nature of his split with the SNP, refused to countenance a deal.

While Yousaf had little option but to resign, this does not mean the end of the SNP government. They hold 63 seats, two short of a majority, and there is no chance of a coalition government among the remaining parties: Conservative (31), Labour (22), Greens (7), LibDem (4), and Alba (1). So whoever wins the leadership battle within the SNP will become First Minister in a minority SNP government.

This illustrates the great divide in Scottish politics, not between left and right, but between unionists and nationalists. The first two Scottish parliaments had a coalition government of Labour and LibDems. When the SNP became the largest party in 2007, the LibDems refused to go into coalition with them and there was a minority government. Anti-Tory feeling during the period of austerity following the financial crash led to a majority SNP government.

This was a high point for the SNP, who have been in steady decline ever since. They have continued to play the nationalist card, claiming credit for things going well, and blaming Westminster for any shortcomings and for denying Scotland another independence referendum. Their left-wing rhetoric and progressive policies have decimated the Labour vote in Scotland; but, in or out of the United Kingdom, Scotland is still part of a world economy in crisis that means they have been unable to deliver on many of their promises. Hence their declining fortune at the polls and the growing divisions within the SNP.

Socialists in England have looked at the SNP with a mixture of envy and admiration. As Labour has shifted to the right, they see the SNP as an electoral force that has embraced social democracy and won elections, pushing Labour into third place behind the Tories. Three things need to be said:

First, as socialists, we absolutely defend Scotland’s right to seek independence, and condemn the Westminster parties for refusing to contemplate a fresh referendum.

Second, we all applauded when Humza Yousaf spoke up for the Palestinians and demanded a ceasefire in Gaza — and we continue to applaud those SNP MPs, like Mhairi Black, who expose the hypocrisy of both Labour and Tories in the House of Commons.

Third, the SNP is a warning that, however able or committed its leaders, reformist parties will always disappoint if they are not prepared to go further and challenge the root causes of poverty and inequality that are part and parcel of the capitalist system.

So, we will not be joining Starmer and Sunak as they gloat over Humza Yousaf’s demise and seek to pin the blame for all of Scotland’s ills onto the SNP. The political situation in Scotland will become more chaotic, and progressive ideas will be the loser. Socialists take no delight in the SNP’s troubles. They spoke against genocide in Gaza and austerity in the UK when Labour tried to silence us.


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