This article is reprinted with thanks from the Workers Party of Britain website
By Nikola B (Workers GB Writers Group)
For Humza Yousaf, failure brings its own reward. He entered Bute House as the youngest, first Muslim, first minister of Scotland as well as the first ever Muslim leader in the western world. However he left his post as health minister with a Scottish health service on life support.
During his two years as transport secretary he was branded “out of touch” and faced calls to quit over cancelled and delayed trains. This ministerial period also covered the ongoing ferry fiasco. In 2014 the Scottish government, despite not meeting initial mandatory requirements, contracted Ferguson shipyard, to build two ferries, with a joint price tag of £97m. This was to help replace an ageing Scottish islands fleet.
Ferguson went bust in 2019 and was then nationalised. Eight years on, with a bill to the Scottish taxpayer of half a billion pounds according to a Herald exclusive, the ferries have still not been delivered. The Herald also reported that during a BBC hustings interview: “Mr Yousaf did not mention that he had been transport minister while the problems that ultimately led to the yard going broke became entrenched.”
French philosopher Voltaire famously said, “I may disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Scotland’s first minister Humza Yousaf when Justice Secretary said, “free speech in itself is never an unfettered right.”
Following his stint in transport, Yousaf, known as “useless” to his political opponents, was promoted to justice secretary by Nicola Sturgeon. The Spectator writes: “In this capacity he spent most of his time desperately trying to pass the notorious Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill… described by SNP veteran Jim Sillars as ‘one often most pernicious and dangerous pieces of legislation ever produced by any government in modern times in any part of the United Kingdom.‘“
This virtue signalling Act, which may be in direct contravention of Article 10 of the ECHR, protecting an individual’s right to hold their own opinions and to express them freely without government interference, makes no distinction between conversations in public and private settings, meaning private conversations could be criminalised. Supporters of the Act see it as contributing towards attitudinal change, rather like a modern day Spanish Inquisition.
The legislation creates a new offence of “stirring up“ hatred related to groups defined by age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity, or variations in sex characteristics. Sex as a protected characteristic is not included, so whilst crossdressing men have protection against hate crimes under the Act women do not. With Scottish policing already under the cosh, facing a £74m cut to their budget, they will now have the added responsibility of policing the speech of the Scottish people.
Yousaf was just nine days into his job when Peter Murrell, recently resigning as SNP CEO and husband of Nicola Sturgeon, was arrested then released without charge ‘pending further investigation’ in connection with £660k missing funds raised on-line since 2017 SNP for a second referendum. It has since emerged, the firm that audits the SNP’s finances has resigned from its role.
Mr Murrell resigned from his post during the leadership battle following the secrecy row over SNP membership figures. The figures were only released following concerns raised in an open letter by candidates Ash Regan and Kate Forbes. The letter stated: ”We request that you provide essential information pertaining to the current membership status and voting procedures within the SNP, which is necessary for ensuring a fair and transparent leadership election.” The letter requested details of digital and physical postal voting papers as well as the numbers of “paid-up“ party members, giving Mr Murrell a specific deadline by which to reply.
The leadership campaign was acrimonious to say the least, with candidates tearing chunks out of each other. Kate Forbes attacked Yousaf’s record in government, suggesting she would not keep him as Health Secretary if she won. Reports were rife that SNP HQ were terrified Kate Forbes would win. The Scottish Sun reported Liz Lloyd, known as the “fixer” and Nicola Sturgeon’s right hand woman: “is helping with Humza Yousaf’s campaign amid fears he could be pipped to the post by Kate Forbes, sources claimed today… Ms Lloyd did not confirm or deny her involvement with Mr Yousaf’s campaign.” Ms Lloyd resigned shortly after the news broke and after Ash Regan raised questions about her involvement. Joanne Cherry MP who backed Ash Regan added her two pennies’ worth stating it’s: “no secret that the party machine is behind Humza and not behind Kate and Ash.”
Humza Yousaf only narrowly beat Kate Forbes polling 52.1% of the vote to 47.9%. Politico reported Mr Yousaf as stating: “‘Where there are divisions to heal, we must do so quickly,’ Yousaf said, adding that one of his first conversations as SNP leader would be with his rivals Forbes and Regan to reunite his ‘team SNP’.” However when forming his new cabinet he offered Kate Forbes, previously Finance Secretary, a humiliating demotion to rural affairs minister which she rejected. Ash Regan was reportedly not approached by Yousaf when forming his new cabinet.
Yousaf was the only leadership candidate to support the Gender Recognition Reform bill (GRR). JK Rowling, a high profile critic of the bill described it as “the single biggest rollback of women’s rights in our lifetimes”. Humza Yousaf who voted against amendments to prevent male rapists being situated in the women’s prisons, seems more concerned about Holyrood “dancing to Westminster’s tune” than the safety of women and girls left vulnerable in ‘safe spaces’. Under the bill, sex offenders are eligible for a gender recognition certificate (GRC). As Ash Regan stated when she resigned her ministerial post over her concerns about the bill: “… I cannot support any legislation that may have negative implications for the safety and dignity of women and girls.”
With Scotland faring far worse in the cost of living crisis than the rest of the UK there was new bad news on the Scottish economy. The Scottish Daily Express reported: “David Phillips, IFS associate director, said: ‘The latest projections imply Scotland’s underlying budget deficit being much bigger than those based on the OBR’s November 2022 forecasts… this means the projected Scottish deficit in 2023–24 has been revised up from £9 billion to closer to £18 billion.’”
Deaths from drugs and alcohol, also known as ‘deaths of despair,’ have spiralled under the SNP’s watch. According to the National Records of Scotland, deaths from drugs have increased fivefold from those recorded in 1996 stating: “Scotland’s drug-death rate continues to be over 3½ times that for the UK as a whole, and higher than that of any European country.”
It is becoming increasingly apparent that Yousaf, along with large swathes of the SNP, are out of touch and losing the confidence of the Scottish public. Whilst Yousaf talks about taking the drive for independence “into fifth gear,” believing Scotland can become independent within five years, the Scottish people’s top priorities from recent polling are the NHS and the cost of living crisis. The Herald reported on 28 March 2023 Mr Yousaf would, with regard to the GRR bill: “… press ahead with a challenge to the UK government from stopping the legislation from receiving royal assent.” Adding: “My first principle, my starting principle, is to challenge that section 35.” However the results of a conclusive Ipsos poll demonstrated: “Just 12% of public say they want to hear about the candidates’ plans of transgender rights/the Gender Recognition Act, rising to 16% amongst SNP voters.”
In the Times Radio SNP leadership debate, Humza Yousaf referred to the UK government as a “foreign government”, stating: “If we were independent we would not have a foreign government coming in, for example, and vetoing our legislation.”A “foreign government” that, by the way, recently increased Scotland’s yearly grant to a record £41bn.
In his SNP leadership victory speech Yousaf declared: “We want to return to the European Union and play our part in building a continent based on human rights, peace, prosperity and social justice.” Gaining independence then handing Scottish sovereignty over to a collection of European US vassal states called the EU would mean subordination of Scottish law to EU law, including where a conflict in law arises. Mr Yousaf obviously finds being part of the UK and their powers of “veto” unpalatable, the UK government in this case believes the GRR bill would impede the operation of the UK Equality Act 2010. It would appear Mr Yousaf has no qualms about Scottish legislation being subordinate to a “foreign government”, he’s just fussy about which “foreign government”.
The SNP are haemorrhaging members, with a loss of 31,000, down from 125,691 in 2019 to around 78,000 members, meaning Mr Yousaf will be going into the next general election not only with a divided Party and severely depleted finances but a lack of popularity amongst the Scottish public. In an Ipsos poll taken during the leadership campaign: Forbes polled 32%, Yousaf 24% and Regan 8%. However one in four favoured none of the three candidates.
Labour is like a shark sensing blood in the water. Pumped up, primed and ready to go after years in political exile, when, as with the Red Wall, they took Scotland for granted. Now, like the Tories, they are ready to capitalise on the mounting disenchantment of SNP voters. Keir Starmer has been making regular trips up to Scotland in a bid to win 16 to 20 seats in the Scottish region, promising Labour will not work with the SNP whatever the outcome of the 2024 general election.
Humza Yousaf has demonstrated he is part of the problem and not the solution when addressing the myriad of issues Scotland faces. It is hoped in the 2024 general election Scotland will offer a firm rebuke to this wokearrista and an SNP leadership who have shown through legislation and intent their interests are far removed from those of the Scottish people.