In Scotland, three candidates seek the succession of Nicola Sturgeon

The succession of Nicola Sturgeon starts in a rather gloomy climate for the Scottish independence movement. Only three personalities entered the ranks, Friday February 24, on the deadline for submitting applications, to replace the Scottish Prime Minister and leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), after her surprise resignation in mid-February: her Minister of health, Humza Yousaf, his finance minister, Kate Forbes, and Ash Regan, his former communities minister.

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None of these elected officials has the charisma of Sturgeon, who has led the Scottish regional government since late 2014, was considered one of the most brilliant British politicians of his generation, including by his Labor and Conservative opponents. SNP heavyweights John Swinney, Deputy Mme Sturgeon, former leader of the SNP in the early 2000s, or Angus Robertson, former leader of the party in the House of Commons, preferred to skip their turn, claiming family reasons or the need for a “new approach” for the independence movement.

At 32, Kate Forbes is the most promising of the three suitors, but she sabotaged her campaign a few hours after launching it, perhaps irretrievably. This Cambridge graduate had yet impressed with her maturity, replacing at short notice, the very day of the presentation of the Scottish budget, at the start of 2020, her resigning predecessor. But this member of the Free Church of Scotland, an ultra-conservative Presbyterian Church, has awkwardly reaffirmed in recent days that she is against same-sex marriage or the birth of children outside marriage.

Positions in total contradiction with the progressive line defended by Nicola Sturgeon and a large majority of the SNP. Kate Forbes also confided that if she had not been on maternity leave at the time, she would not have voted for the Gender Recognition Reform Bill, the law allowing people to change their gender identity from the age of 16 without medical advice. , adopted in December 2022 in the Scottish Parliament, defended for years by Nicola Sturgeon.

Thursday, Forbes tried to put her campaign back on track by assuring that, beyond her religious convictions, she was committed, if she was appointed, to “to protect the rights of everyone in Scotland, especially those of minorities, to live and love without fear of harassment, in a pluralistic and tolerant society”.

Minister Humza Yousaf acts as the favorite after the missteps of his colleague, although this 37-year-old politician has a disputed record. The state of NHS Scotland, the Scottish public hospital, is indeed just as alarming as that of its big English cousin (NHS England), with long waiting lists for operations and a very large shortage of medical personnel. .

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