Pro IQRA News Updates.
Two candidates sought to distance themselves from Nicola Sturgeon’s government in the campaign’s first televised debate.
Ash Regan and Kate Forbes, both appointed to ministerial posts by Sturgeon, put themselves forward as candidates for change while Hamza Yusuf said continuing with the SNP’s “progressive” policies would lead to independence.
While Youssef described sturgeon as “the most feared politician in these islands,” his opponents were not complimentary of its leadership.
“The SNP has lost its way,” said Ash Regan, the former Community Safety Secretary, in the STV debate. “There has been no progress on independence” as she criticized the policy of seeking UK approval for a referendum.
Reagan added, “The ballot box is the gold standard of democracy.
“The only legal option is to use the available ballot box. The use of each election will be a democratic mandate for independence.”
Hamza Yusuf said it would “build on the Scottish government’s radical agenda”.
Referring to previous statements to Forbes and Reagan on issues such as same-sex marriage and gender recognition reform, Youssef said, “I am the only candidate who will unequivocally stand up to protect the rights of all of you.”
Yusuf said he would “maintain and increase support (for independence) by continuing with the progressive agenda.”
He added: “We can’t pretend there is some kind of shorthand. Nicola Sturgeon is the most feared politician on these islands, if there was one she would have found her.”
“We are at a tipping point,” he said. “We need a solid majority.”
After Sturgeon and longtime Deputy First Minister John Swinney announced they were stepping down, Kate Forbes said they would be a “new generation”.
She said, “Continuity isn’t going to cut it. More of the same is not a statement of acceptance of mediocrity. It’s time for a new generation of leadership.”
Forbes considered presenting herself as the competent candidate to promote her record as Finance Minister, adding, “Making the economic case (for independence) matters more than most.”
She also said there was a “need to refocus on efficiency and execution”.
The trio also attacked each other with Forbes and Yusuf having the biggest brawl.
Forbes questioned Youssef’s record as Minister of Transport, Minister of Justice and now Minister of Health.
While Youssef countered that Forbes lost MSPs from her campaign team and alienated favorable voters.
“The government of the United Kingdom will turn to you with your plan (for independence) and tell you where to go,” Joseph told Reagan.
Youssef said Kate Forbes would be “swaying to the right”.
He said Forbes would “capitulate” to the UK government over the Gender Recognition Reform Act and said its ruling was clouded by its “opposition to gender recognition reform”.
“I have made a solemn and heartfelt pledge to support the rights of everyone in Scotland whether they are male, female, transgender or gay,” Forbes said.