Anas Sarwar, leader of Scottish Labour, pictured right, has offered Humza Yousaf his sincerest congratulations on being nominated as the next First Minister. This is what he told the Scottish Parliament about his fellow Muslim:
Humza Yousaf and I have known each other for many years. I know that, today, he and his family will enjoy a feeling of pride in what he has achieved; I offer a special thought for his wife, his beautiful girls, his mum and dad and his sister, who will all, rightly, be proud today. Regardless of our politics, we should all take immense pride in the fact that our country is to have its first minority ethnic First Minister. Whatever our political differences—there will be many in the months ahead—today’s significance cannot be understated. It is something that our grandparents would never have imagined when they arrived in Scotland and made this country their home.
However, reaching this historic moment has not been easy. I know that Humza Yousaf has faced personal abuse and racism—as have so many others who do not have the platform that he and I are fortunate to have. I am proud of the work that he and I have done alongside others to stand against hatred and bigotry. Humza, I promise that I will continue to stand alongside you in that fight for us all. [Applause.]
In extending my congratulations to Humza Yousaf, pictured left, on being appointed as the first First Minister from a minority ethnic background, for obvious reasons I hope that he is not the last. In the meantime, as I said in my earlier remarks, we need a First Minister for all of Scotland. I understand that, during the SNP leadership contest, which we all watched in disbelief, he had to pander to his party faithful by promising to prioritise independence. I urge him to leave the inward-looking, divisive approach behind and to work on behalf of every person in our country, regardless of their constitutional position.
Nothing is more important right now than the twin crises that our nation faces: the NHS crisis, created by the SNP Government, and the cost of living crisis, exacerbated by the Tories. That is not all that is in the in-tray. The new First Minister has been left to pick up a catalogue of failure by his predecessors and the challenge ahead is immense.
After 15 years of SNP rule, not a single institution in Scotland is stronger. I hope that this moment ushers in some better governance for the people of Scotland, but if I am honest, I do not hold out much hope. It is clear that the SNP does not have the answers that Scotland needs. The First Minister now leads a chaotic and divided party, out of touch and out of ideas.
There are those who would describe today’s events as a coronation without an election. One might even say that it is
“a farce inflicted on Scotland”
and that the SNP has
“failed the democratic test.”—[Official Report, 22 November 2001; c 4158-9.]
I know that that might cause discomfort for some on the Government benches. However, those are not my words; they were said by John Swinney, when he made his speech in 2001.
Mr Yousaf has inherited the SNP’s woeful record, but he has not inherited Nicola Sturgeon’s mandate. That is why we need an election. It is only through a change of Government that we will be able to deliver the better governance that Scotland needs. If the First Minister is, as he describes himself, “a democracy defender”, he will call an election now. However, if he lacks the courage for that, the least that we can ask is that he uses the power of Government to change people’s lives for the better.
This Parliament has the immense power to change Scotland—the opportunity is ahead of us and we should take it.
I repeat my promise: where we can find consensus or common cause in the chamber, we should work together. When we disagree, as we inevitably will, we in the Labour Party will always attempt to offer positive alternatives. It is the job of everyone in the chamber to look to the future, not the past, and to help to realise the unfulfilled potential of devolution. We can do that if we rise to the ambition of the people of Scotland—for that, I will strive every day. Humza Yousaf must do the same.
Ach give us a rest Anas Sarwar. You and Humza Yousaf are a couple of rich boys. Private school educated the Sarwar family has the added advantage of a family member done for VAT evasion.
But it’s rich for Mr Sarwar whose father changed his citizenship like one changes their socks when needs suit to rail that everything we do must be done to lift Scotland. Does he not now that his establishment unionist masters down south, the Tories call the big shots. Does he not know that the Scottish Parliament with its limited budget cannot undo the big cuts in everything from welfare, to social security, to investment, to control of the currency, to interest rates and much more is the Westminster Tory call.
Does he not know that the UK Internal Market Bill could oblige Scotland’s NHS to accept privatisation as part of a UK trade deal with let us say the USA. Does he not know that his boss Sir Keir Starmer supports privatisation and charges for health care.
Does Sarwar, or for that matter Yousaf not know that people are living in cold houses because they cannot afford to heat their homes. All the bullshit of these two leaders doesn’t hide the reality of where we are.
But hey hoe, we now have troops operating on the ground in that foreign Holy war and are now shipping British depleted uranium shells to Ukraine. Maybe we shall have the opportunity to very soon to have our boys and girls lay down their lives fighting for their country.
Now that would be a cause for much pride. Hard hats on now and – ” Dulce et decorum est in pro patria mori”