The Ancien Regime – 20 April 2023


The first hundred days sets the tone as to how you’ll be viewed. But for Humza Yousaf it’s not even been that, just a fortnight or so. To be fair it’s been baptism of fire with his predecessor having placed land mines whichever way he stepped. But this is how he’s going to be seen and judged.

It’s continuity despite suggestions it wouldn’t be. Indeed it’s worse and it’s a cementing of the old order. The Queen is dead, long live the King. Sturgeon has gone but Yousaf is ensuring the Ancien regime continues to reign. For sure they’ll cut Peter Murrell loose and deny culpability for her failings. “I’m with Nicola” stickers replaced by “who was Nicola” comments.

Other than that it’s a continuation of the old order. Old policy failings doubled down on and the catastrophic Green coalition confirmed. It’s the same in personnel as in policy. Murrell being replaced by his deputy, Sue Ruddick, is hardly a fresh look in an institution where secrecy seemed endemic. Worsening that she’s implicated in actions in the Alex Salmond affair that are unseemly if not worse.

Similarly, Julie Hepburn, who was rejected by the membership for an elected office has been appointed by him as a new supremo. She was part of the old order and is one of his pals, and is married to Jamie Hepburn, another close pal and Minister. Hardly a restoration of the democracy that has been posted missing in New SNP.

The review of Party governance sees those who were there or thereabouts conducting it. Ian Blackford and Jeanne Freeman are hardly clean skins. They’ve been in with the bricks since she set out to create her new order. Even if they didn’t know some specifics, they most certainly knew the generalities. Other senior figures are similar. I recall warning one out of friendship but who insisted that “the money was threaded through the accounts”. It’ll be easier to thread a camper van through the eye of a needle than justify that now. Naïve but also weak. Office bearers have a duty to the membership not just the leadership.

There’s some in the SNP who seem to think that will suffice. They’ll say any sins were hers or Murrell’s and Humza deserves unswerving loyalty. But that just won’t wash with an increasingly disgruntled rank and file, let alone the electorate.