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NICKY MARR: Humza Yousaf was the least likely to get my vote

By Nicky Marr

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Nicky Marr, Ash Regan, Humza Yousaf and Kate Forbes at The Inverness Courier Leadership Debate. Picture: Callum Mackay
Nicky Marr, Ash Regan, Humza Yousaf and Kate Forbes at The Inverness Courier Leadership Debate. Picture: Callum Mackay

So there’s to be a new First Minister? So much for stability in leadership, on either side of the border.

When it comes to politics, I’ve never agreed with much of what Douglas Ross has to say, but recently, and on three things, I’m right behind him. And this worries me. Am I turning into a closet Conservative?

Those three things… First, that the Deposit Return Scheme was a piece of nonsense. Second, that Scotland’s Hate Crime Act isn’t fit for purpose. And third, that Humza Yousaf wasn’t fit as First Minister either. At least Yousaf has spared himself the indignity of a vote of no confidence and jumped before he was pushed.

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I was asked to moderate the Inverness Courier Leadership Debate in Inverness just 13 months ago, and of all the candidates on stage, he was the least likely to get my vote, had I been entitled. So here we are again, looking for an adult to take the top job, and there are slim pickings.

For the avoidance of doubt, Douglas Ross isn’t the only Conservative I’ve agreed with recently. I find myself nodding along to Rory Stewart in his podcast with Alastair Campbell, as they disagree agreeably about the big questions in life and politics. So where does this leave me?

Am I about to vote Tory? Fear not. I’m not likely to switch allegiances that much. But I think my swaying underlines just what a mess this country is in – and I’m referring here both to Scotland and the rest of the UK.

Who can we trust? Who has our best interests at heart? Who will look after our economy, at the same time as protecting the most vulnerable in society? If you come up with any answers, please let me know.

I grew up in a politically divided household. Come election time, one half of our front room window would display a Conservative party poster, the other proclaimed support for the SNP. As soon as I could vote, I rebelled against both, voting Labour and Lib Dem, before finally siding with the case for independence in the 2014 referendum.

Now, if you were to ask me whether I’d vote SNP again, I’d have to think really hard. I feel utterly let down by them on education, the health service, and the economy, and that’s before we start on the broken promises to dual the A9.

Ask ordinary people what is important to them, and the chances are they’ll mention a well-funded and staffed health service, alongside good, free education for Scotland’s children.

They’ll then explain that housing is important; we all deserve somewhere decent to live, and employers, especially in rural areas but in the heart of Inverness too, need to know that when they advertise vacancies, candidates will be able to find somewhere to live.

Good economic policies that support business might be next on the list, alongside a progressive system of taxation that doesn’t drive the lowest earners to have to use food banks, or the country’s top earners to move south of the border.

And we need someone who understands that the Highlands, Moray, and rural Aberdeenshire are different from the central belt, in more ways than just geography, whisky and population density.

Humza Yousaf and Kate Forbes. Picture: James Mackenzie.
Humza Yousaf and Kate Forbes. Picture: James Mackenzie.

If any targets for net zero are to be met (a moveable feast), we need the renewables power that exists of the Highland fault line, plus the investment in grid infrastructure to transport that power to where it is needed.

With not a single rural MSP in the Scottish cabinet since Humza Yousaf came to power, we have been forgotten. It’s time for that to change.

The only adult currently in the room who ticks any of these boxes for me, is Kate Forbes. I don’t agree with all of her personal beliefs, but if she’s not Scotland’s next First Minister, we’re in more trouble than I thought.

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