So after a fractious five-week SNP contest Humza Yousaf has been declared the party's new leader.

It would be safe to say there was a huge collective sigh of relief among the party's most senior figures when Mr Yousaf was declared the winner in Murrayfield Stadium this afternoon.

While outgoing First Minister Nicola Sturgeon did not endorse any of the three contenders, most observers believed the health secretary and self-styled "continuity candidate" was the candidate she wanted to succeed her.

But while Mr Yousaf won the contest, his was a narrow victory. He did not win an outright majority in the first round of voting with the counting of votes having to go to a second round.


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When second preferences were distributed in the second stage, Mr Yousaf beat Ms Forbes by 52 per cent to 48 per cent.

It suggests the SNP is divided over the party's choice and on the direction of party policy: just over half want to push on with the agenda established by Ms Sturgeon which Mr Yousaf will seek to develop, while almost half believed that "continuity won't cut it" as Ms Forbes told voters across the country in repeated heated TV debates.

So it is likely that his first immediate challenge will be to unite the party and persuade members who voted for Ms Forbes and Ms Regan that he can listen to them.

This will be difficult.

In his speech from the podium after the result was announced Mr Yousaf acknowledged the need to heal divisions and stressed the importance of uniting the party, adding that he would “harness all the talent across the party”.

He said: “We are one team and we will be the team that delivers independence for Scotland. As a party we are strongest when we are united. I will aim to earn your trust by continuing to ensure we govern well and earn your respect as First Minister.”

Among his leadership rivals' top concerns is the Gender Recognition Reform Bill (GRRB) and what to do with the UK block to the legislation.

Those two camps – and their supporters – made clear they were opposed to taking Rishi Sunak government to court over the matter with Ms Forbes favouring a negotiated compromise in the first instance and Ms Regan flatly against.

At the same time, Mr Yousaf needs to retain the support of the Scottish Greens, the SNP's partners in government.

It is only by having the Greens continued backing can the SNP govern as a majority in Holyrood.

HeraldScotland:

Yet the Scottish Greens are demanding that the price for remaining committed to the Bute House Agreement is the new FM's commitment to challenging the UK Government on its veto to the GRRB.

Away from SNP party management, Mr Yousaf is also likely to face challenges in keeping SNP voters on board ahead of the General Election, expected by the end of next year.

During the SNP's internal strife Labour has sensed an opportunity to win back some of its former voters who switched to the SNP...


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