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Yousaf Caught In Private Talks With Turkey, Gender Bill Crushed, Cash Probe Scandal… SNP’s ‘Nightmare Before Xmas’ Explained

Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, via Wikimedia Commons

The Scottish National Party (SNP) regularly faces scrutiny as reports of misconduct mount. This last week has been no exception with columnists describing recent ‘humiliations’ as the party’s ‘nightmare before Christmas’.

In early 2023, when Nicola Sturgeon resigned as First Minister of Scotland and Leader of the Scottish National Party, there was hope that new leadership could bring about positive change. Shortly after, the Scottish Parliament elected Humza Yousaf to become the next First Minister who won against his main rival – Kate Forbes – by a narrow margin at 52.1%.

Sturgeon as the first female to bag the role and Yousaf as the first to do so from a ‘minority ethnic background’ saw both celebrated by many for the symbolic value of their premierships. Yet, their policies – amid other controversies – have seen the pair and their political party at large lose credibility with the nation, critics note.

Even within the early days of December, the SNP has been on the receiving end of multiple ‘humiliating’ news stories that are leading some to call into question their suitability as politicians. From Yousaf’s private talks surrounding Gaza with the Turkish president to Sturgeon’s husband having purchased a luxury car amid a police probe into the SNP’s ‘missing funds’, Scotland’s party risks losing yet more trust from citizens.

With countless reports surrounding these many controversies emerging on an almost daily basis, it can be difficult to keep track. So, here is an overview of the SNP’s latest affairs that are dominating headlines, with some referring to the press coverage as the party’s ‘nightmare before Christmas’.

Anger over Yousaf’s unauthorised meeting with the president of Turkey

Former British Prime Minister and now foreign secretary David Cameron “slapped down” the SNP after Yousaf met with Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, at the COP28 climate conference in Dubai “privately”. Lord Cameron explained that it breached protocol as there was no UK official present when the meeting took place.

A spokesperson for Scotland’s First Minister claimed a UK official had been invited. Sources told the Telegraph that Cameron was enraged over Yousaf pursuing a “very different foreign policy” and it was especially concerning as it surrounded a matter as sensitive as the conflict in Gaza.

In a letter addressed to Angus Robertson, the External Affairs Secretary for the SNP, Cameron declared that further breaches would entail the party losing “logistical support” or Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) facilitation of meetings. Scottish government international offices in British embassies in key locations like Washington DC were also threatened to be closed down.

Despite the SNP attempting to assure the FCDO that a “sufficient advance notice” would be provided for the meeting with Erdogan, Cameron asserted this had not been done. In the face of this criticism, Yousaf called the Foreign Secretary “really petty and misguided”, according to Yahoo! News. Criticism against Yousaf is mounting even within his own party, however.

Roza Salih, a Kurdish-born SNP councillor, said she was “disappointed and disgusted” by Yousaf’s actions. Salih, who works in Glasgow, first arrived in Scotland as a child seeking asylum from Iraq. On her social media, in response to an image of the party leader shaking the hand of the Turkish president, she wrote: “I am disappointed and disgusted by this image @HumzaYousaf

“Erdogan kills #Kurds in Turkey & does not respect human rights.

“Our politicians & half of the population are imprisoned by him and you shake his hand.

“I did not expect this from a FM (First Minister) that says he respects human rights.”

SNP’s ‘dangerous’ gender reform bill is ‘crushed’ leaving Sturgeon ‘humiliated’

Last week, Scotland’s Court of Session declared that the veto of the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill by the UK government was lawful. The move saw every argument attempted by the Scottish Government to defend their controversial legislation, which would drastically alter the process of legally changing one’s gender, firmly rejected. 

Holyrood claimed that the UK government using Section 35 represented “an impermissible encroachment upon the separation of powers and an attack on the devolution settlement struck by the Scotland Act”, according to UnHerd. However, the court rejected this and asserted that “far from being an impermissible intrusion upon the constitutional settlement, Section 35 is an intrinsic part of it.”

The claim that the gender reforms would not adversely affect equality laws in Britain was also swiftly rejected by the court who noted that there was no evidence to back that up. Sturgeon, the then Scottish First Minister, was told by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls that including self-identification in the bill would pose a threat to these groups. It would have allowed anyone aged over 16 to legally changing their sex within a period as brief as six months and without a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria being required. Experts quickly pointed out that this threatened to ‘erode’ female-only spaces such as refuges and prisons while allowing biologically male sexual predators to access vulnerable female victims.

Despite being a self-described “feminist to her fingertips”, critics like J.K. Rowling have disavowed the former SNP leader as a “destroyer of women’s rights”.

Dr Michael Foran, a lecturer in public law at the University of Glasgow, described the news as a “resounding defeat” for the Scottish Government and noted that it vindicated the concerns raised by feminist organisations for years which had been “shamefully ignored”.

A report by the Spectator noted that Kate Forbes, the former SNP leadership candidate, called on her government to accept the court’s judgement of the gender legislation.

Fraud probe deepens as Sturgeon’s husband found to have purchased a £95K car

Following accusations of misusing donations to purchase a £110,000 motor home, the ongoing police investigation into the SNP’s finances is now focused on a luxury Jaguar bought for £95,000.

One source told the Daily Record: “Police have interviewed at least one worker at the dealership about the sale.

“This is an extremely high-end vehicle, one of the most expensive electric SUVs on the market.

“The basic price start at around £80,000 and optional extras can get you up to £95,000 if you are going for all-out luxury.

“It goes without saying that it is completely out of the price range of most people, especially in a cost of living crisis.”

The financial probe has seen several arrests during its course including Sturgeon and her husband.