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What next for Scotland under First Minister Yousaf? | Douglas Lumsden MSP

Slightly less than a month ago we witnessed the election of Humza Yousaf as Scotland’s new first minister. So, can we expect any change in direction from the SNP/Green coalition of chaos?

The answer is clearly no – one of his first actions has been to appoint a minister for independence – effectively a taxpayer funded role to campaign for the internal SNP goal of separation from the United Kingdom – this is even further than Nicola Sturgeon has gone in the past so we should not expect any more focus on addressing Scotland’s real problems than we had previously.

He has also confirmed a court battle to challenge the UK government on their attempts to strike down the GRR act – a bill so unpopular in Scotland that the UK government’s use of Section 35 legislation is rightly being proposed.

Yesterday we saw him expound his “fresh start for Scotland” vision and what did we get from this:

  • Recognition that the deposit return scheme, (DRS), in its current form is unworkable and has therefore been delayed from August until March 2024.

  • Reversing the ban on whisky and alcohol advertising – described as a calamity which will require the government to go back to the drawing board.

  • A reset of relations with business to correct the mistakes the government have made in the past.

  • A delay to the much-vaunted National Care Service to allow time to make it a workable scheme.

Interesting that he was viewed as the continuity candidate post Sturgeon but has now distanced himself from what many would see as he flagship policies for Scotland, ant let’s not forget that he was a key member of the government that proposed these things, but clearly within the secrecy culture operating in the SNP he did not feel able to speak out against these whilst sitting in the cabinet.

This brings us nicely to Mr Yousaf’s own record in the Scottish Government:

He appears to have been over promoted throughout his short career as a lightweight politician.

His first role was as minister for transport and the islands – not only did the trains not run, the vital ferry links between the islands and the mainland are still not functional and it all started on his watch. And we should not forget the amount of money poured into this at taxpayers’ expense as well as other vanity projects such as Prestwick Airport. And then there was the ludicrous situation where he held the role of transport minister he was also caught driving without insurance.

Having failed in this role, he was then appointed justice minister where he presided over the much-derided hate crime legislation designed to prosecute people for independent and free speech in their own houses. This was widely condemned by groups across the political and community spectrum in Scotland. It was welcomed by no-one.

And then after failing again, he was given the health portfolio. Admittedly he was given this role towards the end of the pandemic after the multiple failings of his predecessor, but what impact has he made in that role? The answer is clearly none with ever increasing waiting times in A&E, waiting lists growing and the inability to get an appointment with your local GP. And what has he done to address the shameful record of drugs deaths in Scotland – not just the highest of any country within the UK, but also the unenviable record of the highest of all European countries.

And if you don’t believe me, just ask Kate Forbes, who publicly took him to task during the recent leadership campaign and cited this litany of failures to challenge him on why he thought he was up to the top job.

And does he have the confidence of the membership, (now known to be 35% less than originally thought) - a margin of victory of 52/48 is hardly convincing. Will they be demanding a rerun as they did, and constantly do, re: independence and Brexit! No, I think not.

And whilst all these political manoeuvres have been taking place, we have seen absolute chaos in the ranks of the SNP which casts doubt on their integrity and suitability to govern.

Two weeks ago we saw the arrest, and subsequent release, of the SNP chief executive and husband of the recently departed First Minister, whilst at the same time the embarrassing spectacle of their house being sealed off as a crime scene.

Two days later, BBC News reported that the SNP auditors had resigned, with no reason given. Any company or organisation that loses its auditors certainly has questions to answer. And Humza Yousaf has already gone on record stating that the governance of the party needs to be improved and that he would provide open and transparent leadership. And yet, 4 days after this announcement, we then find out, AND NOT FROM YOUSAF, that the auditors resigned 6 months ago. How can the first minister reconcile his statement of improved governance and transparency with this deliberately misleading information. If he was true to what he believed in he would have made that statement last Friday and not wait for it to trickle out. Or is this yet another instance of the SNP believing they can brush facts they don’t like under the carpet.

And, if after 6 months, they have been unable to fill the role of auditor for their party’s accounts, how can we, the public, have any confidence in their abilities to run a country when they treat their own finances and membership with such disdain.

We recently saw another high profile arrest of the party’s treasurer – remember he has been in post for almost 20 years; he was replaced temporarily by Douglas Chapman who resigned the post due to not being able to get answers to his questions due to the opacity of the executive who run the SNP – this has been evidenced by a leaked video of Nicola Sturgeon herself basically stating “there’s nothing to see here.”

The behaviour of the SNP in the current crisis, of their own making, would not be unexpected in one party totalitarian states, but is this what we really want, or expect from our Scottish Government in the 21st century. The answer is a resounding NO and surely, even die-hard nationalists must accept that their party has betrayed them.

We have spent years listening to Sturgeon talk about “Boris Johnson and his Westminster Tories” having no respect for the public. And yet, all the time whilst she was spouting this line, her own party was in an even worse position. She knows, as do we all, that had this emanated from the Conservative party she would have been the first to be shouting from the rooftops demanding more openness, transparency, and accountability.

There is no doubt that the Union is in a less perilous position with Humza Yousaf in charge – he has continually demonstrated that his mantra is independence at all costs. Why would Scots put their trust in him when neither the party he leads nor the country he governs is in the state it currently is.

It is clear now that Yousaf is indeed the continuity candidate – continuity in treating the people of Scotland as fools; continuity in platitudes; continuity in hypocrisy and being economical with the truth and continuity in advocating independence over making Scotland a better place for its citizens.

It is time for us to get answers from this rotten government. The people of Scotland deserve better and the people of Scotland are demanding better.


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