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You’ve Been Had

The picture editor of The Times must have been delighted with this gift.

But it’s a very accurate picture, and fairly used.

Partly because it’s scarcely believable that Swinney would have the brass neck to still be punting the same line he was punting TWENTY-FOUR YEARS AGO.

But also because at this point if you think Kate Forbes is any sort of saviour for either the SNP, the indy movement or women, you’ve been taken for every bit as big a mug as the gullible party loyalists who insist Swinney is going to turn things around.

Kate Forbes bottled out of the GRR vote in December 2022, even though she could have voted on it if she’d chosen to despite being on maternity leave. And in the leadership election three months later, she offered – unprompted – her support for both the draconian Hate Crime Act and the Scottish Government’s appalling “conversion practices” proposals.


In fact, as far as we can tell she’s done NOTHING to justify the faith that’s been placed in her by some gender-critical campaigners. (Perhaps some alert readers can use the comments to direct us to anything we’ve missed.)

So the idea that Forbes represents any sort of bulwark or beach-head against the SNP’s misogynist, homophobic, child-endangering “woke” factions is a wild fantasy. She’s bodyswerved every opportunity to oppose them, whether inside the cabinet or outside it, and repeatedly asserted her willingness to go along with their agenda.

With Forbes as DFM, the GRR will stay on the statute books hoping for the incoming Labour government to lift its veto – and even if they don’t, the conversion bill will seek to achieve the same ends by the back door, despite Hilary Cass’s warnings, also with Forbes’ express and unequivocal backing.

But by not actively disassociating herself from the idea that she’s a more moderate voice and allowing herself to be promoted as a new direction, Forbes has managed to secure ministerial office again, and the very considerable pay boost that comes from it.

(Her salary leapt by almost £55,000 last week, to £126,452, when she took on a small sliced-off fraction of the Finance Secretary’s brief, as well as becoming the Minister for Gaelic to fill in some of the yawning gaps in her diary. Swinney, meanwhile, enjoyed an increase of nearly £105,000 for stepping into the caretaker-FM role.)

Forbes’ main impact on anything other than her own bank balance will be to continue to drive the setting up of Scotland’s “Green Freeports”, a very slightly tweaked Tory policy which other people are better placed to detail the horrors of than Wings is.

So last week’s events assure that not only is the SNP doomed for the next two years – something which was very much already baked in, and pretty openly acknowledged by the coronation of Swinney – but for the next seven at an absolute minimum.

Not only is the “new” leader there simply to mark time and absorb some defeats, but the NEXT one – whether it be Forbes or Stephen Flynn or (may God save us all) Mairi McAllan or Jenny Gilruth – will also do nothing to divert the party from its current road to self-destruction, and will very likely do that nothing from opposition.

(If any readers think we’re being overly gloomy, we simply invite them to name the current SNP M/SP – or even potential M/SP – who would bring about a change of direction. Joanna Cherry? She’s likely to be elected for another half-decade at Westminster later this year, and we already know she’s not willing to surrender her Westminster seat to run for Holyrood, so she’s not going to be First Minister any time soon. It’d need the SNP to change its rules, and why would either Swinney or the ambitious Forbes facilitate that?)

Even the most heroically optimistic and tirelessly positive people in the independence movement now accept what Wings told you when Humza Yousaf was elected SNP leader a little over a year ago – the last chance to avoid the cliff is now past.

Independence is now, at best, a project for the second half of the 2030s. And those people who’d at least like to spend the intervening years making things better rather than worse in Scotland – whether in terms of economic or social policy – have also been suckered by the tawdry deal between Swinney and Forbes.

No wonder they’re laughing.

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