Although I think Humza Yousaf should step down in the very obvious interests of both the SNP and the wider independence movement, I'm certainly not someone who will just reflexively oppose something because Yousaf was the person who did it. In the case of Fergus Ewing's highly controversial suspension from the SNP, there is one nagging doubt I have that might theoretically mitigate in Yousaf's favour, and it relates to the long-standing convention at Westminster that an MP will automatically forfeit the whip if they vote against their own government on a motion of no confidence, or indeed if they abstain on a motion of no confidence without a valid excuse. Fergus Ewing of course voted in favour of a motion of no confidence in the Green minister Lorna Slater - so is that somehow equivalent to voting in favour of a motion of no confidence in the government?
I don't think it is, actually. I did make the point repeatedly during the SNP leadership election that the argument that "electing Kate Forbes would be dangerous because SNP MSPs would refuse to install her as First Minister" was a piece of absolute nonsense, because those MSPs would know that abstaining or voting against their elected party leader in the First Minister election is tantamount to voting on a motion of confidence to bring down the SNP government, and they would lose the whip for doing it. But that's different from the vote on Slater, because the fate of the government really does hinge on the outcome of a First Minister election - if the SNP leader doesn't win it, you get a unionist First Minister who will attempt to form a unionist government. By contrast, if you vote to remove one low-ranking minister from the government, the same government can simply continue with a new minister. It's true that the Greens might walk out of the coalition if they were not allowed the ministers of their choice, and therefore the composition of the government might change from SNP-Green to SNP-only. But that would be a decision made by the Greens, and wouldn't be a direct consequence of the vote.
So I don't think the logic for suspending Ewing stacks up. The Slater vote is being used as a convenient excuse to punish him for a wider range of rebellions on matters of conscience that would not in any normal government warrant the withdrawal of the whip.
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Thank you to members of the Alba Party who have already nominated me for the positions of Membership Convener and ordinary member of the NEC. There were a flurry of emails yesterday from people receiving acknowledgements of their nominations, so the email address seems to be working and the nominations are being monitored. I need ten nominations to be on the general NEC ballot, and twenty nominations to be on the Membership Convener ballot. So far, and by a very rough count that may not be entirely reliable, I reckon I have about sixteen nominations for both positions. So I should (touch wood) be on the NEC ballot, but it remains to be seen whether I'll get the handful of further nominations required to get on the Membership Convener ballot. If you're a current Alba Party member and are interested in nominating me, you can find the details HERE.