It’s not often a headline provokes a spontaneous ‘Oh, no!’ from yours truly, but I have to admit when I saw Humza Yousaf had been elected the new SNP leader, it did. The man who embodies all the double-standard hypocrisy inherent in the militantly PC ‘Progressive’ Identitarian brigade, who was amongst the hardest of hardliners when it came to lockdown cheerleading, who was the driving force behind Scotland’s contentious hate crime bill intended to outlaw free speech in the privacy of one’s home, who believes all a man has to do to change sex is to proclaim himself a woman, whose authoritarian leanings Kim Jong-Un would regard as a tad extreme, whose absence of humour led him to accuse those who retweeted a video of him falling off a scooter (that made him look like a prize prat) of every ‘ism’ under the sun – this is the man chosen by his party to succeed Nicola Sturgeon as the former First Minister and her husband exit under a cloud of controversy and financial scandal? I think the last time an in-party leadership appointment sparked such a bout of head-shaking was when Comrade Corbyn was elected Labour leader; but I suppose if the promotion of Sturgeon’s Health Secretary turns out as well as that did, the Union is perhaps secure after all.
If one were to invent the ultimate right-on politician for a cartoon to appear in, say, Private Eye, chances are one wouldn’t have to delve too deep into satire were Humza Yousaf to be used as the model. The man is practically a parody of the species as it is, making Sadiq Khan look like Nigel Farage; even the Guardian and the Labour Party would probably find him a bit much; indeed, Labour’s Deputy north of the border Jackie Baillie described Yousaf as ‘the worst Health Secretary on record’ in reference to the decline and fall of Scotland’s NHS on his watch. One wonders if Citizen Yousaf parades his Woke credentials with such pride as a canny smokescreen to mask his mediocre performance in office. The SNP’s Kate Forbes, one of his rivals in the race to supersede Sturgeon, was even more cutting in her criticism. ‘You were Transport Minister and the trains were never on time,’ she said to him during a televised debate; ‘when you were Justice Secretary the police were stretched to breaking point, and now as Health Minister we’ve got record high waiting times.’
Quick to play the race card and leap on any barely-mobile bandwagon he thinks will signal his unimpeachable virtue, Yousaf once retweeted a video that allegedly showed Glasgow Rangers footballers engaging in a sectarian singsong; his undue haste swiftly proved to be a misjudgement when the video was exposed as a fake. Only recently, he and his wife dropped a £30,000 legal claim against a Dundee nursery they accused of ‘discrimination’ simply because the place didn’t have room for their precious daughter; the fact these claims that the nursery described as ‘demonstrably false’ have cost it tens of thousands of pounds to defend its good name evidently matter not in the noble pursuit of social justice. Yet, as is so often the case with those who wear their virtue as a T-shirt, all is not what it seems. As a noted advocate of the Stonewall brand of ‘gay rights’, Yousaf was famously absent from the decisive vote on gay marriage at Holyrood in 2014 – an absence blamed at the time by Alex Salmond on pressure from a Glasgow mosque (Yousaf is a Muslim), something Yousaf denied. And let’s not forget that six months into his stint as Transport Secretary he was fined £300 by police for driving a friend’s car without the required insurance.
But it was Citizen Yousaf’s promotion to Justice Secretary in 2018 that earned him the authoritarian spurs he wore so well during the pandemic. His flagship policy was the aforementioned Hate Crime and Public Order Act. Despite opposition from the likes of the Law Society of Scotland and the Scottish Police Federation – not to mention JK Rowling, who ran the risk of being prosecuted on dubious ‘transphobia’ charges – Yousaf promoted the bill with all the blinkered belligerence of the zealous fanatic, disingenuously selling the policy as a triumph of #BeKind bullshit over ‘intolerance’; former SNP Deputy Jim Sillars described the bill as ‘one of the most pernicious and dangerous pieces of legislation ever produced by any government in modern times in any part of the United Kingdom.’ Only during its passage through the Scottish Parliament was the bill amended to prevent the prosecution of those unintentionally promoting ‘hate’, such as libraries accidentally displaying books that should obviously be burned in the nearest public square; however, Citizen Yousaf stands by his belief that anyone uttering unacceptable comments behind their own closed doors is committing a punishable offence. If you’ve ever seen the 2002 movie set in a totalitarian future, ‘Equilibrium’ – where the lead character played by Christian Bale has to bite his lip around his children, who think nothing of ‘grassing him up’ to the authorities should he say the wrong thing in private – you’ll be more than aware such a law brings fiction one step closer to frightening fact.
His switch to Scotland’s Health Secretary neatly coincided with the arrival of Covid, and Yousaf entered into the scaremongering spirit by declaring in June 2021 that ten children under the age of 10 had been admitted to hospitals in Scotland the week before suffering from the coronavirus – a claim refuted by the officer for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, who said the children in question were not hospitalised due to Covid and that there was no rise in the virus amongst children; Yousaf retracted his claim, but still played a key role in ensuring Scottish schoolchildren were unnecessarily masked-up for lessons, a move then spinelessly replicated south of the border simply because Boris Johnson didn’t want to get into another kerfuffle with Nicola Sturgeon. Moreover, rising waiting times for an ambulance prompted the Health Secretary to urge the public to ‘think twice’ before dialling 999, a call criticised as reckless by his opposite Tory number; the findings of Audit Scotland in the wake of this revealed there were 500 deaths in Scotland in September 2021 due to ambulance delays.
Of course, the election of Humza Yousaf as SNP leader being an in-house appointment – and Yousaf upholding all the progressive values that are so highly-prized amongst privileged politicians who don’t take the concerns of the plebs into consideration – the SNP hierarchy are naturally delighted by the succession. For them, it was a foregone conclusion; seen as Sturgeon’s ideological heir, Yousaf was the man the ‘progressive’ wing of the party wanted. It remains to be seen how his appointment will be received by the wider Scottish electorate, which – despite SNP propaganda – actually includes some who not only baulk at Yousaf’s more extreme proposals, but who don’t actually crave independence either. It should be remembered that one of the severe misjudgements that appeared to accelerate the retirement of Wee Nicola was the highly-publicised case of the violent rapist who suddenly (not to say conveniently) took a turn down the ‘self-identification’ route and proclaimed he was now a woman; courtesy of policies advocated by Humza Yousaf, this proclamation resulted in said rapist-in-drag being shipped off to a women’s prison.
Humza Yousaf’s commitment to this particular cause may win him plaudits in the upper echelons of his party and in activist circles; but out there beyond the cosy confines of the echo chamber, he may find such fanatical support for an issue that helped push his predecessor towards the door marked ‘exit’ might not assist him in his mission. That mission, lest we forget, is the same mission every SNP leader before him has been genetically modified to embark upon. But internal elections don’t always produce the right man, woman (or non-binary individual) for the job. Just ask Liz Truss.
© The Editor