TO the great surprise of absolutely no one, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has ruled out holding the next Westminster General Election on May 2, the same day that local and mayoral elections are due to be held in England.

It was Labour sources which had reportedly been bigging up the prospect of a May election, for the twin motives that Starmer would like the election to be held as soon as possible while Labour enjoys a polling lead of 20%, and also so that Starmer could accuse Sunak of running scared of the electorate when he inevitably ruled out an election in May.

Yes, that really is the adolescent level on which British politics operates.

The truth is there was only ever an outside chance of Sunak going for an election in May, and that depended on the recent Spring Budget being a game changer which radically shifted the polls. The Budget did indeed produce a bounce in the polls, it's just that it was for the Labour party. Voters were distinctly unimpressed by the Chancellor's offer and disappointed that the Tories are still talking about tax cuts and are not investing more money in over stretched public services.

The National: Rishi Sunak has been urged to sack a minister who told a journalist he was 'worried' there would be

The dismal failure of the Budget to shift the polls in the Conservatives' favour killed off the already small chance of a spring election. Sunak wants to hold on as long as possible in the hope that something, anything, will crop up and save him from going down in political history as the Tory prime minister who presided over the greatest electoral humiliation which his party has ever faced.

However, as the Conservatives lurch from one controversy to the next, the chances of that happening are looking increasingly remote.

The latest scandal to befall the Tories shows no sign of going away. There is anger over the hypocrisy of a Prime Minister who preaches about removing the influence of extremism from public life while accepting multi-million pound donations from businessman Frank Hester – who made grossly misogynist, racist, and inflammatory comments about the veteran MP Dianne Abbott. At a meeting in 2019, Hester said seeing Abbott on TV made “you want to hate all black women” and that the long-serving MP “should be shot”.

READ MORE: Speaker responds after First Minister's 'institutional racism' accusation

Hester's company TPP runs the electronic patient records of almost half the medical practices in the UK, making NHS England his main UK client. Now the general practice committee (GPC) of the British Medical Association, which represents GPs across the UK, has voted in favour of an emergency motion urging Hester to stand down from his company with immediate effect. The motion urges GPs to carefully consider Hester's racist comments before deciding whether to sign a contract with his company.

The Scottish Tories have also sought to distance themselves from the scandal, saying in a statement that the wider party should carefully consider whether to accept donations from Hester. They also rather disingenuously claimed that the Scottish Conservatives have never taken a donation from the controversial businessman. It may be true that Hester has never made a donation specifically to the Scottish Tories, but donations to the Conservatives go into a UK-wide pot from which the Scottish Tories also benefit.

It has now emerged that the Conservatives have a further donation of £5 million from Hester, bringing the total to £15m. The episode confirms the impression of an unprincipled government which is at the mercy of events, staggering on until its inevitable demise.

The Speaker's shameful actions

The National: Diane Abbott (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Diane Abbott was subjected to even further very public disrespect on Wednesday in the House of Commons – the issue of Hester's racist comments about her were central to that day's PMQs – but despite getting on her feet dozens of times in order to speak for herself about a matter which directly concerned her, the Speaker Lindsay Hoyle pointedly ignored her.

MPs can talk about Abbott being a victim of racism, but the Speaker would not allow a black woman to talk for herself about how that racism has affected her.

It was a shameful and disgusting lack of respect from the Speaker, proving yet again that he is unfit for the position he holds.

First Minister Humza Yousaf has weighed into the controversy, saying that the Speaker's blatant lack of respect for Abbott demonstrated the “institutional racism” that people of colour in the UK face.

Keir Starmer gets in on the act

The National: Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer (PA)

It's not just the Speaker who has come under fire for this disgraceful incident. Keir Starmer also stands accused of hypocrisy. Starmer suspended the Labour whip from Abbott after she pointed out that non-visible minorities like Jewish people and Irish Travellers do not experience racism in the same way as black people.

Professor of sociology Gary Younge, a noted commentator on racism in the UK, said on Twitter that Starmer is happy to raise money on the back of the racism directed at Abbott even though his party has constantly disparaged and undermined her. But he won't reinstate the whip. "Just how cynical can you get?" he added.

Abbott's real crime in Starmer's eyes is continuing to stand by Jeremy Corbyn – the “he who shall not be named” of Starmer's right-wing Labour party.

And finally

The National's fundraiser for Medical Aid for Palestinians has now smashed through its final target of £100,000 and donations continue to come in. It is an incredible testament to the generosity and compassion of this paper's readership and the people of Scotland as a whole.

This piece is an extract from today’s REAL Scottish Politics newsletter, which is emailed out at 7pm every weekday with a round-up of the day's top stories and exclusive analysis from the Wee Ginger Dug.

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