MAY I, through your pages, now bring to and end the SNP leadership debate and aftermath? The contest is over and Humza won. This may not seem the case given the spate of letters to The National, but if readers need reassured on this matter, it is.

I was taught many years ago in my first SNP branch in Clydebank (joined after Winnie Ewing burst the bubble of unbelief in ourselves) that the first lesson on politics is simple arithmetic. Here then are some wee sums for the discerning. Humza: first-preference votes 24,336. Kate: first-preference votes 20,559 plus second-preference votes 3,331, which gave Kate a total of 23,890. So taking all of Kate’s votes and adding them together still left her 446 votes behind Humza’s first-preference votes, ignoring Humza’s second-preference votes. Game over. That’s not quite the way I had hoped when I selected my choices on the 1, 2, 3 basis for the ballot. Allow me to explain.

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When Nicola announced she was stepping down, I did two things. First, I wrote an “all members” letter to my present branch headed: “Well, they finally got her”. My letter simply quoted headlines written for the online version of what most of us dismiss as The Torygraph. There then followed a list of headlines quoted verbatim with dates that covered an entire month – a constant diatribe against Nicola, surely only designed to undermine her.

The second thing I did that evening was to sit and compile my own list of candidates and my order of voting – long before the SNP leadership contest was opened.

I am a committed SNP member and won’t be going anywhere else until independence is achieved. I try to keep myself informed and attend SNP conferences. My list was 1) Kate, 2) joint equal Angus Robertson and Keith Brown, 3) Ash Regan (as she was first to declare and caught my attention), 4) Humza. Then my joint seconds decided not to run – and a wee explanation for what I still find inexplicable would be nice, in your own time gentlemen – so my 1-4 became 1, 2, 3 and I went to the Inverness hustings. I decided, based on what I saw and heard, that my number 3 would now become 2. So I voted Kate, Humza and Ash in that order. I voted for what I saw, and who in my estimation would be the best person to lead us to independence. The final outcome we all know.

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Despite that fact I have not watched television for a bit more than a decade now, I am not immune to its nefarious effects. Can I ask readers of The National if I am alone in being outraged at a television so-called journalist questioning a candidate on their faith? Is that now considered normal or acceptable? Why?

Was the interviewer acting on his or her own initiative, or according to someone else’s script? I had hoped we were long past the days of deciding solely on religious lines whether or not a person should be given employment. Some of us have unhappy memories of this kind of discrimination.

This set the scene for an unedifying snarling match to a television audience. The only winners of that were non SNP members. Two versions of appalling behaviour do not translate into one being appealing over the other and non SNP voters may remember the former and overlook any of the latter qualities. I’m sure both candidates now understand that.

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Next came the time for our new party leader to select his team. Much has been made of the fact that Humza offered Kate a reduced level of post, a demotion from her previous level of responsibility that she felt unable to accept. In the longer game this is good for both and for all of us. With a critic of the FM sitting in Cabinet, the irritating and vacuous poseurs of the opposition would have reduced FMQs to their level.

Take heart, Humza – there is evidence for a much-criticised minster becoming a very effective first minister, and her name is Nicola. Go and do likewise and be assured the foot soldiers of the party membership are with you on your journey.

Jim Coll
via email