A troubling election
The history and views of Scotland's new First Minister should raise concerns
Humza Yousaf has been elected leader of the Scottish National Party and has thus become First Minister of Scotland.
This has been considered bad news for the Scots, but excellent news for both the Labour Party and the survival of the United Kingdom.
Bad news for the Scots because Yousaf was considered to have been disastrously incompetent as Scotland’s health minister. His first outing at First Minister’s questions appears to have been a tetchy, chaotic and incoherent affair (on the economy, Yousaf said: “I am building upon our legacy where we have higher unemployment, lower unemployment”). The signs that Scotland will be administered well under his leadership therefore don’t look auspicious.
How could the Scots have elected such an underwhelming individual? You may well ask. But there it is.
The reason for rejoicing by the Labour Party leadership is that the rise of the SNP wiped out Labour in Scotland, where it had previously had a heavy electoral presence. The SNP thereby destroyed Labour’s ability to win enough Scottish seats at a general election to enable it to form a government at Westminster. Given the new First Minister’s unimpressive record, the Labour leadership is now eyeing up to 20 Scottish seats which it thinks will fall into Labour’s lap as voters recoil from Yousaf's anticipated failure to administer Scotland properly.
There’s also rejoicing by those in the UK government and elsewhere who are anxious to fend off the demand for Scotland’s independence. This is because Kate Forbes, the leadership candidate who would have posed a significant threat to the union, was defeated.
Unlike Yousaf, who has boiler-plate left-wing anti-business views that frighten the middle-class, Forbes is pro-business. She also has a proven track record of competence in her previous role as Scotland’s finance minister. She has a pleasant, open and attractive personality. Her strictly traditional Christian views, that were assumed by the liberal commentariat to be terminal to her political advancement, are actually a source of political strength amongst the disenfranchised, traditionally-minded public.
So she would have been a real threat to the union because she would have encouraged cautious Scots to believe that an independent Scotland would be safe in her hands. She would also have become the first UK politician to champion the nation and its core values in the culture wars. By challenging the progressive mindset which currently squashes any dissent, that might have altered the cultural dynamic currently dominant throughout the whole of the UK.
But Forbes was defeated, and has now left the Scottish government altogether.
However, there’s another factor about Yousaf which is even less comfortable for both Scotland and the UK as a whole.
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