HUMZA Yousaf was the self-styled continuity candidate in the party’s leadership race.

His first speech to a major gathering of its members more than lived up to that millstone.

To be fair, Mr Yousaf showed he can be a very good public speaker. 

His husky whisper gets a bit too Marilyn Monroe at times, but there was a genuine tingle moment when he asked people to imagine how they’d feel on the morning after a Yes vote.

He also showed empathy and took a risk when he went to meet a heckler who interrupted him, and reproached the audience in Dundee’s Caird Hall for booing her.

But the abiding sin of the Sturgeon years - promising the faithful the next election is going to be a turning point when it’s really about bagging votes - only teed up more disappointment

The SNP leader said that “page one, line one” of the manifesto for the election expected in 2024 will state: “Vote SNP for Scotland to become an independent country”.

It is, of course, not something which is not in his gift, as the Union is reserved.

So he argued that an SNP win in the election - later defined as winning most of the 57 seats - would be a mandate for independence and present the UK Government with a choice.

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf claims SNP general election win would be mandate for Indy

Either accept independence as a done deal and open negotiations or grant Indyref2. 

In private, SNP sources admit that there is no realistic prospect of a UK Government accepting independence has arrived simply on the back of an SNP election win.

The very best the Nationalists could hope for, in an ideal hung parliament, is Indyref2.

So, although Mr Yousaf presented it as an either/or, only a second referendum is possible.

That means his message boils down to this: an SNP majority is a mandate for Indyref2.

The problem for him is that this is the same old pitch that the SNP has made at successive elections, and the constitutional dial hasn’t budged.

After the 2015 general and 2016 Holyrood elections, Nicola Sturgeon said she had a “cast-iron” mandate for a second referendum. Ahead of the 2017 general election, she said that the SNP winning a majority of seats would kick it up a notch to a “triple lock” mandate.

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf challenged by heckler at SNP convention over NHS scandal

Now, Mr Yousaf is touting a “page one, line one” mandate.

The branding is new, but in the end it’s the same thing: asking the UK Government to play ball if the SNP win.

It hasn’t worked in the past, and it’s not clear why it would work in 2024.

Indeed, it’s especially unclear why it would work this time around given the SNP’s slide in the polls and the prospect of the party losing a good chunk of its MPs to Labour.

After the SNP lost a third of its seats in 2017, Ms Sturgeon didn’t dare brag about securing a triple-lock mandate even though, on her terms, she had just got one. 

Instead, she accepted political reality and announced a “reset” and paused her plans.

Yet Mr Yousaf is proposing that even if the SNP lost a comparable share, it would still count as a win that would melt UK hearts. Yeah, right.

Worse, it’s clear that Mr Yousaf’s own party is unclear about what his plan is.

MP Pete Wishart insisted, after hearing Mr Yousaf, that what had been announced was a de facto referendum, in which the threshold for independence is 50%+1 of the vote.

This is categorically not what was announced - according both to Mr Yousaf and his team.

It's not a good look.

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf's Indy plan thrown into confusion by SNP MP Pete Wishart

Like all politicians, Mr Yousaf is also trying to have it both ways. 

He said after his speech that even if the SNP didn’t get a mandate at the general election, it would still have a mandate for Indyref2 from the 2021 Holyrood election.

But as Ms Sturgeon found, momentum is all, and going backwards in an election cannot be dressed up as success.

The truth is that this was a speech aimed at SNP members who are tired and hacked off after the drama of recent months.

Mr Yousaf energised them for a while in Dundee, but ultimately he has set them up for another anti-climax.