SNP leadership race descends into ‘Trumpian nonsense’ amid vote rigging concerns

Ash Regan, Kate Forbes and Humza Yousaf

All three SNP leadership candidates have demanded Scottish National Party (SNP) bosses bring in an independent watchdog for the Nats leadership vote amid fears of vote rigging.

Their comments have been called “Trumpian” by critics, following the former president of the United States repeatedly claiming the 2020 US election was rigged in Joe Biden’s favour.

The three declared candidates in the SNP leadership race – Kate Forbes, Ash Regan and Humza Yousaf – will battle it out to succeed Nicola Sturgeon as first minister, with the successful candidate announced on 27 March. 

But ahead of the final count all three candidates have demanded greater transparency over the ballot process.

It comes after Nats head office – run by Sturgeon’s husband, Peter Murrell – refused requests to reveal the number of members who will effectively vote for the next first minister.

On Wednesday, 15 March, Forbes and Regan joined Yousaf to call on Murrell for greater transparency in the ballot processes, with Regan publishing an open letter on behalf of her and Forbes.

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‘Transparent, fair and equitable’

Regan wrote: “As the chief executive of the SNP, it is your responsibility to ensure that the leadership election process is transparent, fair and equitable.

“Providing this information is crucial to fostering trust and confidence among the candidates, their campaign teams and the party members who are participating in this election.”

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The letter added: ”Your cooperation in this matter will not only demonstrate the SNP’s commitment to democratic values and principles but also help maintain a strong and united party during this leadership contest.”

An adviser to Regan informed Sky News that if a “satisfactory response” is not received by 3pm on Thursday, 16 March, Regan will hold a press conference outside [the Scottish] parliament to address this matter further.”

The team representing Yousaf informed the news outlet they had made similar representations as Forbes and Regan on Tuesday (14 March).

Separately Forbes’ campaign manager issued a statement on behalf of the Finance Secretary which raised concerns about the “integrity of the ballot processes for the current SNP leadership contest”. 

“Some of these concerns are based on hearsay or are from bad faith actors. However, others are being openly expressed by individuals within the SNP of longstanding.

“I have written two letters thus far to the National Secretary regarding the ballot processes. I have not yet had a response,” the statement added. 

Forbes’ campaign manager states that a request to SNP has been made to appoint “a robust, experienced, third-part auditor of both the ballot processes and eventually the tally of the vote”. 

But Forbes’ demand for transparency has seen backlash from Gavin Newlands, SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North. 

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Taking to Twitter he accused her statement of being “Trumpian nonsense”.

In 2020, Donald Trump made multiple claims of voter fraud in the expansion of mail-in ballots. His claims were found to be baseless, however Trump supporters were quick to accept his claims as fact.  

A spokesperson for the SNP has confirmed candidates “have already been made aware” that the responsibility for the leadership election “does not rest with any member of staff”, The National reported. 

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