Politics

Humza Yousaf’s leadership win is a big victory for the SNP establishment but old issues must be tackled

Humza Yousaf’s leadership win is a big victory for the SNP establishment.

A close ally of Nicola Sturgeon, he was branded the “continuity” candidate – pledging to build on the former first minister’s work.

The losers in this contest had planned a more radical overhaul of both policy and party.

There is no doubt this marks a significant moment for equality. He becomes the first Muslim to lead a major UK party and the first Asian set to take charge of a devolved administration.

Yousaf’s campaign was fought talking directly to the 70,000 voting SNP members. He now needs to begin his wider appeal to the public to ensure he can remain in Scotland’s highest office.

A raft of polls pointed out the newly crowned winner was popular with nationalist members but his polling with the public made for grim reading.

He was seen as more incompetent, untrustworthy and weak compared to rival Kate Forbes. She was seen much more favourably with wider society.

More on Nicola Sturgeon

Mr Yousaf needs to turn around his broader appeal if he is to drive the SNP’s election-winning machine forward. If he fails to do this, he could be a lame duck first minister.

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Failed candidate Ash Regan spent the last weeks of her campaign raising questions about the integrity of the vote with calls for members to be able to change their vote.

It followed a raft of resignations, including the SNP’s chief executive, over false information.

Could her team now claim Mr Yousaf is an illegitimate winner in an election where there were questions over what involvement and interference party HQ had?

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Nicola Sturgeon has urged her successors to work together as a team and act with kindness

Mr Yousaf’s pledge to take on the UK government in court over the blocked highly controversial gender reform laws will put his premiership on a constitutional clash from day one.

His independence policy is to build a “consistent majority”. His rivals reckon that is code for kicking the SNP’s dream into the long grass as almost all the polls suggest the dial is not shifting in favour of support for a second vote.

One of his biggest immediate challenges will be a root-and-branch overhaul of the SNP’s headquarters which has been left in a mess thanks to this contest.

The party’s reputation is diminished. It is without a CEO and head of communications after they were rocked by rows.

Mr Yousaf may signal a new generation for the Scottish National Party but he has to tackle much of the old issues.

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