Nicola Sturgeon’s successor is set to be announced today following a bitter race for the SNP leadership. Three members of the Scottish Parliament are running to replace her – Kate Forbes, Humza Yousaf and Ash Regan.
The contest has been marked by acrimonious clashes between the candidates during live TV debates.
Even the SNP’s chief executive Mike Russell has said the party is in “a tremendous mess”.
But Ms Sturgeon has defended the SNP, saying it is going through “some growing pains” since she announced her shock decision last month to step down after more than eight years as party leader.
The chaos has sent the SNP’s poll ratings plunging to the delight of Labor and the Conservatives who hope to gain seats in Scotland at the next general election.
Here, the Express lists some of the most dramatic and excruciating moments from the leadership contest.
JIBES IN TV DEBATES
Stinging clashes between the leadership hopefuls have made the headlines in recent weeks.
The trio have furiously disagreed on how to deliver Scottish independence.
In the harshest exchange of the race, Ms Forbes hit out at the record of Mr Yousaf – who is the current Scottish Health Secretary – saying: “You were a transport minister and the trains were never on time, when you were justice secretary the police were stretched to breaking point, and now as health minister we’ve got record-high waiting times.
“What makes you think you can do a better job as Prime Minister?”
Following the first STV debate, the Scottish Tories said the candidates were “torching each other and their party’s record in government”.
Scottish Conservative chairman Craig Hoy MSP added: “Given they all are – or were – integral to that government, they were also, effectively, setting fire to themselves.”
There have even been swipes at outgoing Ms Sturgeon, with former Scottish Government minister Ms Regan saying the SNP had “lost its way”.
RESIGNATION OVER MEMBERSHIP FARCE
Perhaps the most dramatic moment in the leadership campaign has been the resignation of Ms Sturgeon’s husband Peter Murrell as SNP chief executive after almost 25 years in the role.
He quit with immediate effect after the party initially rubbished reports that its membership had dropped by 30,000 – with the then-SNP head of communications Murray Foote dismissing the claims as “drivel”.
But in a deeply embarrassing U-turn, the party went on to admit that as of February 15 this year, its membership was at 72,186 – down from 103,884 in 2021.
Mr Foote quit his SNP role, with Mr Murrell then resigning the following day.
YOUSAF’S UKRAINE GAFFE
In the most toe-curling moment, Mr Yousaf asked “where are all the men?” when meeting Ukrainian women refugees.
The Scottish Health Secretary appeared to forget that many are likely to be defending their country in the face of the Russian invasion.
Mr Yousaf, the favorite to replace Ms Sturgeon, made the blunder while visiting Ukrainian women in Edinburgh to discuss support for refugees in Scotland.
FORBES SPARKS GAY MARRIAGE ROW
Ms Forbes’s campaign got off to a rocky start when she opened up about her views on same-sex marriage in the first week of campaigning.
The Scottish Finance Secretary, a member of the Free Church of Scotland, immediately lost some of her high-profile supporters after she said she would not have voted for gay marriage.
She also said having children outside of marriage “would be wrong according to my faith” and is something she would personally “seek to avoid”.
SNP deputy Westminster leader Mhairi Black said she had been “incredibly hurt” by the comments, with Deputy First Minister John Swinney saying he “profoundly” disagreed with them.