By Bill Heaney
Updated at 6.30pm
Humza Yousaf is the new leader of the SNP and tomorrow will be confirmed as Scotland’s First Minister by a vote in the Scottish Parliament.
He beat Kate Forbes by a short head for the top job – 52 to 48 per cent after the first count showed none of the three candidates received more than the 50 per cent of the votes required to win outright. The 11 per cent of initial votes that went to third place Ash Regan were divided between Yousaf and Forbes and the former came out on top.
Yousaf will choose the Ministers in his new cabinet over the next few weeks. His predecessor Nicola Sturgeon had made it clear to the SNP’s 70,000 members all through the run up to the election that he was “the chosen one”. Yousaf’s West Dunbartonshire connection is that his grandfather once worked at the Singer factory in Clydebank.
Meanwhile, the Daily Record is reporting that the Health Secretary, 37, Yousaf pledged to lead Scotland “in the interest of all of our citizens” whatever their political allegiance.
“If elected as your first minister in parliament tomorrow, know that I will be a first minister for all of Scotland,” he said.
“I will work every minute of every day to earn and re-earn your respect and your trust. I will do that by treating you, the people of Scotland, with respect.
“There will be no empty promises or easy soundbites when the issues in front of us are difficult and complex. Because government is not easy and I won’t pretend that it is.”
Mr Yousaf also paid tribute to the late Labour leader John Smith in his victory speech and said it was “the greatest honour and privilege of my life” to be the next first minister, should parliament decide to elect him.
Turnout in the party’s leadership election was 70 per cent. For first preferences, Humza Yousaf took 24,336 (48 per cent), Kate Forbes took 20,559 (40 per cent) and Ash Regan took 5,599 (11 per cent) of the vote. When second preferences were distributed in the second stage, Humza Yousaf took 26,032 (52 per cent) and Kate Forbes took 23,890 (48 per cent).
The Glasgow MSP was considered the favourite to succeed Nicola Sturgeon since she stunned the political world last month by announcing her resignation. He racked up a huge list of endorsements from prominent Nationalists including John Swinney, Ian Blackford, Stephen Flynn and Mhairi Black.
But his campaign was rocked when his ministerial record was trashed by Kate Forbes during a fractious TV debate earlier this month.
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross, left, said: “I congratulate Humza Yousaf on his election, and on becoming the first leader of his party from an ethnic minority.
“We encourage him to govern for all of Scotland and abandon his divisive plans to push independence relentlessly as the self-styled ‘First Activist’. As the main opposition party, we will hold Humza Yousaf to account when he lets the Scottish people down.
“Unfortunately, we have serious concerns about his ability. For the good of Scotland, we hope he does not lurch from failure to failure as he did when he was Nicola Sturgeon’s Health Secretary, Justice Secretary and Transport Minister.”
Mr Ross added: “Humza Yousaf’s election as leader shows that the SNP Government are moving further and further away from the real priorities of the Scottish people to obsess over independence. The Scottish Conservatives will continue to focus on the issues that matter to people across the country, such as strengthening our economy, supporting our struggling NHS and helping families with the global cost-of-living crisis.”
Commenting following the election of Humza Yousaf as leader of the Scottish National Party, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar, right, said: “I extend my sincere congratulations to Humza Yousaf on his election.
“While I question his mandate and the SNP’s record, it is important to reflect on the election of what will be the first First Minister from an ethnic minority background. Regardless of your politics, this is a significant moment for Scotland. But while Scotland faces the twin crises of the cost of living and the NHS emergency, it is clear that the SNP does not have the answers that Scotland needs. This chaotic and divided party is out of touch and out of ideas.
“Humza Yousaf has inherited the SNP’s woeful record, but he has not inherited Nicola Sturgeon’s mandate. We need an election now, and Scottish Labour is the change that Scotland needs.”
Responding to the comments made by the new SNP leader Humza Yousaf, when he told ITV News that he would ask the UK Government for a Section 30 Order “right away,” Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP, left, said: “This is just the same old same old. The SNP is tired and out of touch, and it doesn’t look as if Humza Yousaf wants to make that any better.
“On health, on education, on the cost of living, on the climate emergency, the nationalists have no credible strategy. At Humza Yousaf’s lead, the SNP will continue to haemorrhage reasonable, fair-minded minded voters who simply want good governance, not wrecking balls to unity and partnership.
“I am tired of the scapegoating and backbiting that has chipped away at our politics for too long. People need a party who will fight their corner. This country is ready for change and Scottish Liberal Democrats will be part of what’s next.”
104,000 members they said, 78,000 votes sent out they then said, then 72,219 members admitted as Murrell resigned, then just over 50,000 votes cast.
A rigged vote, you bet, unless you believe in the tooth fairy.
And the future. Will Humza be long for the hot seat? Will the SNP troughers be long for their parliamentary seats? Most certainly there are a lot of absolutely disgruntled SNP members and that is reflecting in the wider electorate too.
Will more members leave? You bet and where will they go? Not to Labour, not too the Tories. And ditto the voters. If I was a betting man I’d say a realignment of independence voters and independence parties is underway. The SNP may be finished but the independence movement is not.
On a maybe cheerier note, we all might be happier to note that British forces are now embedded and in action in Ukraine and that British depleted uranium tank shells are on their way to Ukraine. Certainly looks like the proxy war is going to heat up. And what better way to restore pride in one’s country to have your young fight and die die for their country? Our glorious dead as they used to say, Or is it, dulce eT decorum est in pro patria mori.
Just hope when they start chucking the theatre nukes, and then maybe later the tactical first strike ones that they don’t target our wee bit of Bonnie Scotland. That would be a tragedy and then some. But the drums of war are beating and it is so reminiscent of the lead up to both the previous world wars.
But otherwise, upwards and onwards. Tip tip now, normal service will be resumed tomorrow. The thought of Humza in the hot seat, if he passes election today will have settled me.