POLLING expert Mark Diffley has said that the lack of hard polling data about the SNP leadership contest has left the candidates nervous and pollsters “frustrated”.

The lack of data means that the contest is too close to call with either Kate Forbes or Humza Yousaf most likely to emerge victorious when the result is announced on Monday. Third candidate Ash Regan could still potentially pull off a surprise victory despite the limited polling which has been done suggesting that she trails the other two candidates by a large margin.

The single poll of SNP members, published three weeks ago, which placed Kate Forbes and Humza Yousaf neck and neck in the lead, did not ask about second preference votes and they are likely to be crucial in determining the winner.

If none of the candidates achieve 50% of votes cast in the first round of counting then second preference votes will come into play. Assuming Kate Forbes and Humza Yousaf are the two leading candidates after the first round of voting but neither wins more than 50% of the votes, as the very limited polling suggests, then Ash Regan would drop out of the running and her second preference votes would come into play.

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Given the hostility that some Ash Regan supporters on social media have expressed towards Humza Yousaf – although how many of these are SNP members with a vote is a moot question – it is reasonable to assume that those who have given their first preference votes to Ash Regan will be more likely to give their second preference votes to Kate Forbes.

Judging by their posting history, some of the most vociferous, indeed vituperative, Ash Regan supporters on social media and those who are most overtly hostile to Humza Yousaf are Alba Party supporters who are unlikely to have a vote. Nevertheless, it seems likely that Ash Regan's second preference votes will break heavily in favour of Kate Forbes, as both have positioned themselves as the candidates who will change the direction of the party. This could give Kate Forbes enough to take her over the line.

It's also possible that Kate Forbes's second preference votes will go overwhelmingly to Ash Regan, giving her enough to come into the lead between the other two and to snatch the crown.

But really, it's anyone's guess what might happen on Monday once the ballots are opened and the votes are counted. No wonder the three candidates are in for a nail-biting weekend.


The Scottish Independence Convention (SIC) has voted to reform itself into a new umbrella organisation for the grassroots independence movement. The new Movement for Scottish Independence (MSI) aims to become a cross-party body representing the wider grassroots movement.

The independence parties themselves will be formally excluded from membership and without voting rights on the new body, although affiliated groups such as SNP Students will be eligible for membership.

This is aimed at ensuring MSI is organisationally independent of the pro-independence parties and representative of the wider movement, and not controlled by politicians or political parties.

The National:

Those grassroots organisations which participated in the Independence Forum, and those which have not, have been invited to the first annual general meeting of the Movement for Scottish Independence, where they will have the opportunity to vote on the way forward and stand as office bearers. The organisation intends to convene large-scale assemblies at regular intervals to build public engagement and to help develop a prospectus for an independent Scotland.


In more proof, as if any were needed, that the Westminster system is institutionally corrupt and unfit for purpose, research has found that over the past six years more than 170 former ministers and senior government officials have taken private sector roles related to their old policy briefs. These include Sajid Javid, Robert Buckland and Gavin Williamson.

The report from Transparency International has found that many former ministers and senior officials are going straight from their government jobs into private sector roles relevant to their former responsibilities.

The organisation says that this raises serious questions about how potential conflicts of interest are managed in Westminster.

Of course, all involved will protest that no rules have been broken, but when former government ministers are habitually going into lucrative private-sector jobs related to the government posts that they have just left, then it's clear that the rules are incapable of doing what they are supposed to be there for, which is to prevent even the appearance of a conflict of interest.

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But then, Westminster politicians themselves determine the rules, and they want to ensure that those rules operate in their interests.

Let's get real here, no one is going to offer Gavin Williamson a lucrative job because of his charming personality and proven ability to get things done.

Duncan Hames, the director of policy at Transparency International, said: "Britain's revolving-door watchdog has proved powerless to stop former ministers and officials cashing in on the contacts they made in public service."

#NOTMYSPANIEL (French edition)

A spokeslackey for King Charles has announced that the monarch has postponed his planned state visit to France, which had been due to start this weekend, because the French don't want him either. France is currently being rocked by protests against Macron's unpopular plans to raise the pensionable age and if history has taught us anything it's that entitled and privileged royals really ought to give a wide berth to angry French people.

The visit was postponed at the request of President Macron after French unions called for a day of new nationwide protests on Tuesday against the pension overhaul. Vive la révolution.