At Midlothian Indoor Bowling Club, the good news was First Minister’s Questions was on the TV in the cafe. The bad news? No one seemed interested.
On Thursday lunchtime, bowlers were finishing soups and salads before enjoying a game at the club in Dalkeith but a few had some thoughts on the SNP leadership race.
And there was more bad news for the three candidates as many of them suggested the best bet to be the new first minister would be the old first minister, Nicola Sturgeon.
Cassy Kelly, 28, has grown up in a modern Scotland shaped in some way by Sturgeon’s SNP and was at the club with her grandfather, Alastair Ferguson, with whom she had just finished a game.
Indeed, the carer felt that the new leader would be a “best of the rest” and not the person who should be leading the party.
She argued that, although Kate Forbes would have been a solid choice as leader, her views on same-sex marriage were a concern.
“It’s a difficult position to be in because you don’t want to be nasty towards someone’s religion but a lot of people have family and friends who are LGBT and she doesn’t speak for a majority of Scots,” she said.
Her views were echoed by her grandfather, a one-time dyed-in-the-wool Labour man who switched to vote SNP under Sturgeon.
The 83-year-old considered that more must be done to quell discontent among the workers, who are striking like he did in the 1970s.
He said: “I was on strike in 1974 and 1978. I think that whoever is elected needs to get the deals done and agreed.
“I can’t understand Nicola Sturgeon resigning. She is my favourite and she did a good job. I’m not in love with Humza Yousaf because of his record as health secretary and then Kate Forbes made those comments.”
Although she knew who all three candidates were, club vice-president Janet Wilkenshaw had little interest in them.
The 73-year-old admitted: “I could tell you their faces in a picture but I’m not remotely interested in them because they’re career politicians.
“Humza Yousaf…he’s not doing well in his current job in health and is always just blaming Covid. We need to employ more nurses and doctors and pay the current ones more.
“Politicians never miss out on the chance of a wage rise but seem hesitant to give them out.”
SNP member Robert Stenhouse, 76, believed the best candidate should be elected and that although the public might judge Ash Regan for resigning as a minister over the gender recognition bill and Kate Forbes over her remarks on gay marriage, they could still be electable.
He said: “I have had several emails and will, of course, be voting for a new leader. It is very early in the campaign and I expect more to come and there will be meetings.
“In some people’s eyes Ash and Kate will be affected but I have an open mind and will vote for the best candidate. Some people will be reluctant to vote as they feel strongly on those views.”
Stenhouse did not agree with other members that Yousaf’s campaign might suffer because of his record as health secretary, arguing he had done a good job in tough circumstances.
“There’s a good chance for Humza compared to what has happened south of the border in health. Scotland has been doing better.”
Sandra Wilson, busy collecting money from bowlers for an event before playing a game, sat down to chat and told how she would prefer to see Forbes lead Scotland.
Wilson, 63, said: “I would go for Kate Forbes. Nobody can replace Nicola but I think she would get things done.
“The government needs to focus on the health service. It must be the priority, along with education. After Covid, we need to get back to where we were before.
“I just don’t know if they will be able to do it.”
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