SNP leadership contest: If Humza Yousaf is anything to go by, Nicola Sturgeon needn't worry about being overshadowed – John McLellan

Time for change indeed, and this time next week we will have a new First Minster but, whoever wins, all three candidates now seem to believe the SNP under Nicola Sturgeon hasn’t been very good at selling independence.
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How else would you explain away the continued reluctance of a majority of Scots to back separation, if you believe it’s the most sensible and obvious thing the country could do? And there was me thinking three ministers would actually have been listening to what their leader has been saying over the years, because to my ear not a single policy has been advanced or speech delivered without extolling the virtues of independence, or at the very least been designed to show a different way forward from the rest of the UK.

We have had 16 years of the relentless promotion of independence, the last eight-and-a-half from the woman hailed as Scotland’s greatest political communicator, and yet the dial refuses to shift. So how will front-runner Humza Yousaf persuade doubters to back separation?

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In this week’s Times Radio debate, he argued the focus had been on criticising Westminster, not a vision for independence. “When you have a new leader in place, that gives you the opportunity to set the tone from day one,” he pleaded. But in virtually the same breath he described Westminster as a foreign government “coming in and vetoing our legislation”.

If this is an example of the SNP’s new focus, unionists can sleep soundly. And Ms Sturgeon needn’t worry about being overshadowed.

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