DURING the SNP leadership campaign Humza Yousaf told audiences at debates up and down the country that if he became First Minister he would certainly be "his own man".

The MSP for Glasgow Pollok was of course keen to convey this message because of the suspicion that he wouldn't in fact be "his own man" due to being the "continuity candidate" to Nicola Sturgeon.

With the former first minister's close ally Shona Robison running his campaign, her closest advisor Liz Lloyd playing a role, and a series of endorsements from Ms Sturgeon's cabinet – including ultimately one from the deputy first minister John Swinney, it was clear Mr Yousaf was the party establishment's choice.

It was a shock for Mr Yousaf's supporters that the politician explicitly calling for change, Kate Forbes, whose message during the race was that "continuity wouldn't cut it" ultimately ran Mr Yousaf very close in the contest, with the result 48 per cent to 52 per cent in the second round of voting.

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Some SNP politicians still believe that if it wasn't for Ms Forbes' speaking too frankly in interviews about her opposition to same-sex marriage and having children outside marriage, getting her campaign off to a disastrous start, she would have won the contest.

It is against the background of support given by Ms Sturgeon's allies to Mr Yousaf when he went for the top job that his decision not to suspend his predecessor from the SNP following her arrest on Sunday is significant.

In normal times, being Ms Sturgeon's continuity candidate wouldn't have been a problem for Mr Yousaf. He could have openly sought her advice, spoken proudly of her record if he wished, while seeking to make his own mark on the Scottish Government.

But with Operation Branchform ongoing, Mr Yousaf is not in a business-as-usual situation.

To many onlookers it simply looks rather odd to be heaping lavish praise, as Yousaf did today, on someone who has just spent seven hours in police custody being questioned by detectives or think it is appropriate for his MSPs to send her flowers, as the SNP Holyrood group agreed this afternoon.

Ms Sturgeon was of course released without charge pending further inquiries and in a statement afterwards said she was "innocent of any wrongdoing".

But by not suspending her from the party or even asking her to stand down voluntarily, the First Minister gives an impression of looking somewhat beholden to her and of being compromised by his close relationship to his predecessor, especially as in previous cases parliamentarians have resigned the party whip without ever being arrested.

This was the case with Michelle Thomson, the former SNP MP now a party MSP. In 2015, when Ms Sturgeon was party leader, Ms Thomson was suspended when it emerged police were investigating allegations of fraud connected to her property portfolio, even though she was never arrested or charged.

Fundamentally Mr Yousaf is now giving the appearance of very much not being "his own man" and of being unable to act independently.

It is a criticism being seized on by the Conservatives and Labour.

But it is also a view expressed privately among some in the SNP even well before Ms Sturgeon's arrest.

Now the talk around Holyrood is that had Mr Yousaf suspended Ms Sturgeon it would have caused a mighty rumpus among her supporters but that the row would have calmed down and there would be recognition the First Minister had taken action which his predecessor would have done in similar circumstances.

Mr Yousaf, on the other hand, is saying that he is being consistent in how he is acting vis a vis Ms Sturgeon as he didn't suspend Colin Beattie, the SNP MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, and the former party treasurer, when he was arrested in April in connection with the same police investigation.

It's a point that has raised eyebrows.

Following the arrest of Ms Sturgeon’s husband Peter Murrell and Mr Beattie it was widely believed that the former FM would be next. Like Ms Sturgeon, both Mr Murrell and Mr Beattie were released by the police without charge pending further inquiries.

The Herald:

Some suspect that the reason why Mr Beattie wasn't suspended is that it would have set a precedent for the same action being applied against Ms Sturgeon when the time came for her arrest.

"If you look what happened in the past, Nicola would pull the person and ask questions later," one senior source told me.

"Sometimes people went on to be charged while at other times people were suspended and the matter never came to anything.

"Imagine a world where Nicola was still first minister, Peter wasn't the chief executive and there was a treasurer who was an MSP and they found a campervan on his premises. Do you seriously think...

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