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COLIN CAMPBELL: Our MP faces toughest battle to hold on to his seat

By Colin Campbell

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Councillor Angus MacDonald and MP Drew Hendry.
Councillor Angus MacDonald and MP Drew Hendry.

Drew Hendry has entered his 10th year as MP for the Inverness constituency, and the question looms large as to whether or not he will see it out as our representative at Westminster.

How things have changed since the General Election of 2019. Back then it was a nailed on certainty that he would be returned to office as an MP. If I’d been offered odds of 1000/1 against him winning then I wouldn’t have risked a fiver.

Now, facing what looks a formidable and highly energised Lib Dem challenge in particular in the months ahead, I’d say his chances have tumbled to not much better than evens.

With Sir Keir Starmer seemingly ready to measure the curtains for No.10 and many Tories conceding they are due to be kicked out, the main point of interest north of the border will be how well – or how very badly – the SNP will fare.

After a prolonged period of absolute dominance, are many people who are not overtly partisan as fed up to the back teeth with Humza Yousaf and the SNP as they are with Rishi Sunak and the Tories?

And will MPs like Drew Hendry pay the price accordingly?

In Inverness, we have a bird’s eye view of the strife that is damaging the SNP and making Mr Hendry’s electoral prospects ever more uncertain.

His colleague Fergus Ewing has been the leading critic of the SNP leadership, their policies and their alliance with the Green pair of Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater, both of whom he clearly views as being utterly useless at their ministerial jobs. And with regard to Harvie and Slater he has found very little disagreement, right across the board.

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Kate Forbes has been not far behind him in her criticism and seems to be becoming more vocal by the week.

If she’d won the party leadership, an air of fatigue might still surround the SNP but it surely wouldn’t have been quite as dense.

She controversially called Humza Yousaf out for his past failings in a debate clash and her doubts over his fitness to become First Minister have been proved fully justified.

Schools are struggling with attainment levels and the NHS really does seem to be going through a “ winter crisis”.

I’ve heard of cancelled appointments and operations affecting people I know in different parts of Scotland. And I certainly won’t be alone in that.

Even a phone call to the GPs’ surgery brings home the realities of problems afflicting the NHS, with an automated voice warning of “extreme pressure on services”. Why is the pressure more “extreme” these days? Are many more people falling sick? Or is the Scottish Government, with a health minister still under fire over an £11,000 expenses scandal, failing to deliver an adequate level of funding and service?

Drew Hendry is also saddled with the burden of campaigning on the ludicrous SNP proposition that winning a majority of seats in Scotland will be a “mandate for independence”, regardless of how many MPs they lose and regardless of their vote share. He may survive these difficulties and forge ahead to a fourth term in office. But I doubt if he’s anything like as confident about his whereabouts 12 months from now as Sir Keir Starmer, with his measuring tape at the ready, seems to be.

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