Earlier on this week The Times reported that
Labour will target Humza Yousaf’s Glasgow Pollok seat with a message that he lives 80 miles from the constituency, in an attempt to undermine his election campaigning.
Pollok is among the areas where Labour is delivering direct mail shots to try to capture voters who have previously backed the SNP as part of a campaign to exploit the divisive leadership election.
Yousaf’s home is in Dundee and he must now spend much more time living and working in Edinburgh after becoming first minister.
Labour hope that they can pin him into his constituency during the 2026 Holyrood election, hampering his ability to tour the country to campaign as party leader.
I’m not in favour of electoral decapitation strategies, in 2005 the Lib Dems focussed on such a strategy against senior Tories, including the leader Michael Howard, and failed in every instance except in Westmorland & Lonsdale where Tim Farron ousted the Doctor Who fan Tim Collins. Ultimately the Lib Dems failed to win more winnable seats that simply didn’t have a profile Tory MP.
Back in 2015 in my own constituency Labour seemed obsessed with ousting the then Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg rather than focus on the plethora of marginals in neighbouring West Yorkshire which helped the Tories win a majority that year. As a famous Italian-American businessman & war hero observed “never hate your enemies, it affects your judgment.”
With the expectation that Humza Yousaf might not be very good I’m not sure it’s Labour’s interests to ensure a wider public do not get to see the Humza Yousaf magic in person.
Another reason this seems like a bad strategy is that I’m not sure Yousaf survives as SNP leader if the next general election result is suboptimal for the SNP then I can see Yousaf being replaced which would make focussing on ousting Yousaf in 2026 a bit of a pointless and useless exercise.
Targeting the MSP for Pollok because he lives and works faraway also seems a bit fishy to me. We seldom get MPs and MSPS who live and work in their own constituencies.