Dumbarton-educated Marco Biagi, who is supporting Humza Yousaf in the SNP leadership contest, highlighted that an early May Scottish Parliament election could be held if the new SNP leader fails to get enough votes to be First Minister
Marco Biagi, whose family were in business in Dumbarton and who went to Keil School.
By Bill Heaney
A Humza Yousaf-supporting SNP councillor has hinted at an early May Holyrood election if the winner of the leadership election is unpopular with other MSPs.
There have been reports that a Kate Forbes or Ash Regan win would cause a major split in the nationalist party and could even lead some of them to refuse to vote for them as First Minister.
In the Scottish Parliament, the First Minister needs to be elected through a vote, with opposition parties also allowed to nominate a candidate.
This means the likes of the Scottish Tories and Scottish Labour could nominate their leaders to take over at Bute House, but they would need to get majority support.
Up to six MSPs are weighing up whether to refuse to vote for Ms Forbes if she won the race, and with no support from the Scottish Greens, it could leave the vote on a knife-edge.
And now Edinburgh councillor Marco Biagi, who has criticised Ms Forbes on Twitter and backed Humza Yousaf as leader, has hinted that an early May Holyrood election could be called if the finance secretary cannot get enough support.
He said: “May election, anyone? If only one MSP is proposed as First Minister they face an affirmative vote. Without the Greens, the SNP would have 64 votes, same as the opposition. If the opposition co-ordinates they could block appointment. 28 days with no FM = automatic snap election.
“For avoidance of doubt, I really don’t think having a snap Holyrood election is something the public want or would thank anyone for.”
He was then asked whether the opposition parties would really want to fight such an early election, with emphasis on the Scottish Tories losing a number of seats.
Mr Biagi responded: “And they could scupper it by nominating Douglas Ross as FM. If there are two candidates, whoever gets the most votes wins. Only if there’s one does there have to be an affirmative vote.”
Aberdeen University politics lecturer Dr Malcolm Harvey also commented on this as he highlighted how this election is about the future of the SNP in Scotland.
He said: “A point I’ve been alluding to myself today. 30 of the 64 have endorsed Humza Yousaf. Several have been very vocal as to why they oppose Kate Forbes and Ash Regan. Enough to withhold voting for them for FM? This election is about the whole future of the SNP.”
The floating of an early election come as Mr Yousaf’s campaign goes on the offensive against his closest rival in an attempt to put some daylight between them.
Currently, it is almost neck-and-neck between the two cabinet secretaries, but Mr Yousaf’s team have launched scathing attacks on Ms Forbes, including claims that the party would split in half if she wins.
Westminster deputy leader Mhairi Black suggested this in an interview earlier this week, with Nicola Sturgeon ally Shona Robison claiming she would have to think about whether she would serve in a Forbes cabinet.
When she was asked about this by the Scottish Daily Express, the finance secretary said: “I think in a contest like this with one member, one vote, it’s incumbent on all elected representatives to respect the democratic choice that members make.
“I’ll be respecting that choice because ultimately I’m accountable to SNP members, SNP branches, SNP activists and I hope all elected representatives would see that duty of respect.”