With SNP in disarray, Humza Yousaf is using Gender Recognition Reform Bill as 'dead cat strategy' – John McLellan

It’s the deadest of dead cats. Desperate to turn the public’s gaze away from the SNP’s implosion, Hapless Humza Yousaf is spending taxpayers’ money on court action he will lose to rescue legislation two-thirds of the public oppose.
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Gender recognition reform (GRR) was the hill his predecessor chose as her Golgotha and he could be about to follow suit in what looks like misguided bid to save the alliance with the Greens which 35 per cent of SNP voters oppose. Polling shows half of Scotland welcomed the UK Government’s intervention to block Royal Assent for GRR Bill which will allow people as young as 16 to self-identify their sex without medical evidence, also opposed by a third of the SNP’s support, so Mr Yousaf’s decision to challenge London in the courts flies in the face of public opinion.

And opinion is already turning against him, with elections expert Sir John Curtice pointing to new figures showing 32 per cent of 2014 Yes voters will not vote SNP in the next Westminster election, with 18 per cent going to Labour. As SNP claims for a referendum mandate, never mind independence itself, evaporate by the day, it’s a bizarre way to build popular support for separation, which Mr Yousaf claimed during his leadership campaign was only five years away.

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Who now could deny SNP president Mike Russell’s view that Scotland is not ready for independence? If it was questionable in February when Nicola Sturgeon claimed in her resignation speech she was “firmly of the view that there is now majority support for independence”, it’s utterly risible now.

Humza Yousaf's decision to challenge the UK Government's block on the Gender Recognition Reform Bill flies in the face of public opinion (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)Humza Yousaf's decision to challenge the UK Government's block on the Gender Recognition Reform Bill flies in the face of public opinion (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Humza Yousaf's decision to challenge the UK Government's block on the Gender Recognition Reform Bill flies in the face of public opinion (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

As senior SNP figures burn more public money and fossil fuel jetting to the annual Tartan Week junket this weekend, the new “best-known Scot in America”, chief Sturgeon cheerleader actor Brian Cox, characterised growing nationalist desperation with a politically bonkers suggestion that the SNP changes its name to the Scottish Independence Party. As they ape the ‘Oirish’ and St Patrick’s Day by parading down 5th Avenue in a kilt, the SNP’s delegation knows there’s no point trying to kid Americans that a new nation is about to emerge from under the English yoke, as they have done in previous years.

The independence movement is not just on hold, but writhing on the floor, gnawing on its fists as it comes to terms with successive leaders’ falls from grace, and the implications of the arrest of Ms Sturgeon’s husband, ex-SNP chief executive Peter Murrell, later released without charge. Along with his 92-year-old mother’s £110,000 camper van, the independence bandwagon has been towed away for further examination pending inquiries.

There was an argument that pushing for an independence referendum is what the SNP does, and donors have only themselves to blame if their cash has been gobbled up without a vote to show for it, but that was before the strange case of the vanishing auditor, the odd failure to inform the SNP national executive, and the inability to find a replacement for six months.

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Why Mr Murrell duped his communications chief into misleading the public about falling membership numbers remains a mystery, as does the disappearance of the treasurer and three audit committee members, including ex-Edinburgh Lord Provost Frank Ross, two years ago.

But never mind all that… Over here! We’re taking the British to court!