WITH the round of SNP leadership hustings reaching its conclusion, a number of clear issues have materialised which go well beyond the appointment of the new leader. In fact, I believe that it could lead to the disintegration of the SNP as a political force in Scotland.

It’s like watching the in-fighting witnessed during the Jeremy Corbyn/Momentum battles within the Labour Party. The SNP on the other hand, with independence at its heart, has its very existence as a party now in doubt. Ironically the widely held view that once independence had been achieved the SNP would disappear, having done its job, and its supporters would find “homes” in other political parties of the left, right or centre or morph itself into the Social Democratic Party of Scotland, may now happen BEFORE independence! Why so?

With the resignation of Nicola Sturgeon, the one individual who deftly held the “broad church” together and with a loyalty of membership envied by all other parties, we are now witnessing an unprecedented destabilisation of the SNP itself.

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There are three clear issues which have materialised, exposed by a leadership contest which it seems will either deliver Kate Forbes or Humza Yousaf as the leader of the SNP and unbelievably may or may not deliver the post of First Minister at the same time.

Kate Forbes, it seems, is ahead of Humza Yousaf in having the support of the Scottish public but may not be the first choice of the SNP membership. If she wins the contest as leader, the likelihood is she may have difficulty in achieving enough support from the Holyrood MSPs for FM. Unbelievably, many SNP and Green MSPs may not give her their vote or abstain. Very likely the SNP as a party may also split going forward.

If Kate Forbes is NOT elected the leader the public will, crucially, turn its back on the SNP and possibly independence. Therefore, winning or losing the leadership contest will have its problems for Kate Forbes as well as the party going forward.

Humza Yousaf may be ahead of Kate Forbes with the SNP membership and it seems that he has the support of many MSPs and MPs. He is, however, not popular with the Scottish public. Him becoming leader of the SNP may split the party and many members may leave as a result. It is likely that his passage to the post of FM may be easier than that of Kate Forbes, with the support of the Greens remaining intact. It seems that Ash Regan’s votes may tip the balance for Kate Forbes if she drops out of the contest in the first ballot – maybe not. Humza Yousaf may of course get a majority of votes in the first round.

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The big issue for me is no longer WHO wins the leadership but the inevitable consequences to the party. When a member casts their vote they MUST look beyond the party and recognise that we must attract the Scottish public’s votes to win independence. I do hope everyone in the SNP recognises this as all-important. Clearly this reveals only one winner: Kate Forbes.

Already we have our MPs, MSPs and councillors naively and blatantly voicing their support for Humza Yousaf and trying to “persuade” the rest of us members to do the same. They are ushering in the end of their own party and our independence aspirations. Humza Yousaf does NOT have the support of the voting public, he is a gift for the Tories and Labour. My last plea is for all our members to “see the writing on the wall” and vote for the public's favourite. When she wins the leadership I want the whole of the party to get behind her and for all elected MSPs to ensure she becomes FM.

The future of the SNP as a party and independence is at stake!

Dan Wood