SNP leadership debate: Humza Yousaf laughed at my jokes, I'm not sure Kate Forbes would find them so funny – Vladimir McTavish

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With the TV debates underway, the gloves are off in the fight to succeed Nicola Sturgeon as First Minister.

Whoever follows her will have big shoes to fill. However, let us not forget that when she herself took over from Alex Salmond in 2014, Nicola had some exceedingly large trousers to fill. I’m no doubt showing my age here, but the thing that strikes me most about the two leading contenders is that they are both very young.

Humza Yousaf is the same age as my youngest daughter. He’s a likable bloke and a fan of stand-up comedy. He was in the front row at one of my gigs in Dundee and laughed very enthusiastically. Kate Forbes, on the other hand, may well also enjoy a bit of a laugh, but only “a bit”, as presumably such frivolity only occurs before 11.30 on a Saturday night and after eight o’clock on a Monday morning.

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While Humza may be young, Forbes is even younger than he is, but holds views that belong in a previous century. Some of her opinions even my granny would have considered out-of-date. My granny was a regular church-goer and died in 1968, in case you’re wondering.

Kate Forbes, left, Ash Regan, and Humza Yousaf are standing to become leader of the SNP (Picture: Andy Buchanan/pool via Getty Images)Kate Forbes, left, Ash Regan, and Humza Yousaf are standing to become leader of the SNP (Picture: Andy Buchanan/pool via Getty Images)
Kate Forbes, left, Ash Regan, and Humza Yousaf are standing to become leader of the SNP (Picture: Andy Buchanan/pool via Getty Images)

It is somewhat sobering, no pun intended, to think that the next leader of the SNP could be more socially reactionary than Ruth Davidson. I never knew there were any members of the Free Presbyterian Church under the age of 80, so the idea of one of them running the country is absolutely mind-boggling.

She may not be planning it, but what would a truly ‘Wee Free’ Scotland actually look like? I can tell you, it would look like Dingwall in 1958. There would be no gay marriage, and probably no gay anything else for that matter. There would be no shops open on Sunday, no Sunday football and no Sunday newspapers. Pubs would shut at 10pm and not be open on Sunday. Hanging out washing on Sunday would probably be made illegal.

There would be no Sunday television, not even Songs of Praise as singing in church is a heathen activity. That is not to say we would not be allowed to do anything on Sundays. There would still be a myriad of options such as going to church, reading the bible, taking a walk and praying. And, in exceptional circumstances, going to the toilet, provided you did so without making any noise.

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Kate Forbes is, of course, free to express her views, but those views may well scupper her political ambition. She probably would have stood a much better chance with SNP members if she’d kept her mouth shut. I disagree with her, but I do admire her honesty. She could have kept her opinions to herself.

Instead, she has committed the second act of political hari-kari to have happened in the last six months, after the spectacular implosion of Liz Truss back in October. But at least Liz the Lettuce waited until she had been elected party leader before she pressed the self-destruct button.

I haven’t mentioned Ash Regan. Mainly because she’ll never be elected in a month of Sundays. A month of Sundays? My God, how dull would that be?

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