Humza Yousaf’s election should concern us all


James Esses


James Esses

28 March 2023

6:52 PM

Scotland has been deprived of the opportunity for a fresh start. Humza Yousaf has been elected leader of the Scottish National party, and he is set to be confirmed as first minister today in the Scottish parliament.

In the end he defeated runner-up Kate Forbes by 52 to 48 per cent on second preference votes, which is ironic considering that when the UK voted to leave the European Union by the same ratio, the SNP argued this was not a sufficient mandate and there should be another vote.

Despite this, Scotland will now have to prepare for life under a new first minister. And Yousaf’s election should concern us all.

Yousaf has stated throughout the election campaign that he wants to push social justice and progressive values as first minister. He has disturbing form for engaging in personal attacks against those he disagrees with, accusing rivals who have raised serious and legitimate concerns about the impact his ideology will have on society as ‘lurching to the right’.

In the Q&A following his victory speech he made a point of accusing the UK government of engaging in a ‘power grab’ regarding their use of Section 35 of the Scotland Act 1998 to block the SNP’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill. He went on to say that he will launch a legal challenge against the UK government to allow the Bill to go ahead.

It has been clear for some time that the Bill poses significant threats to safeguarding across the entirety of the UK. It would lower the age at which someone can legally change their sex in Scotland from 18 to 16; reduce the required period of time someone must have lived in their acquired ‘gender’ from two years to just three months; and would remove the requirement for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria. In essence, it would introduce self-ID, watering down existing checks and balances designed to ensure that those who wish to ‘transition’ are genuine. All polling has demonstrated that it is opposed by most Scots. Yet Yousaf has now committed to championing the legislation, even if it throws women and child safeguarding under the bus.

For an individual who claims to oppose the ‘culture wars’, Yousaf has shown himself more than happy to stoke its flames

The ramifications of this ideological policy were made clear when the convicted male rapist Isla Bryson (formerly Adam Graham), was initially placed in a female-only prison. On this, Yousaf’s response was completely nonsensical. Despite supporting the Gender Bill, which would make it easier for biological men to be housed in female prisons, he also accused Bryson of not being a ‘genuine transwoman’.This, in and of itself, demonstrates the problem with self-ID. Who exactly is to judge whether someone is ‘genuine’ or not?

Yousaf has held senior cabinet positions (including health minister) in a government that has aggressively pushed gender ideology. In Glasgow, the Sandyford gender identity clinic has continued to operate without proper political or clinical scrutiny, despite recent shocking admissions within the clinic regarding child safeguarding. When treating those with gender dysphoria, the Scottish NHS continues to openly rely on guidelines from the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, a trans-activist organisation. Last year, the Scottish government even published educational guidance that purports to support schools keeping pupils’ gender transition secret from their parents.

It’s not just on gender ideology that Yousaf has a disturbing record. Equally worrying is his approach to free speech. He has committed to pushing forward with legislation to ban ‘conversion therapy’ in Scotland, notwithstanding the significant concerns many have about the chilling effect it could have on therapists, potentially forcing them to affirm a child who says they are trans into going through medical transition. This flies in the face of ethical therapy, which should be explorative in nature. We have already seen the serious ramifications of this type of legislation. In Victoria, Australia, where ‘conversion therapy’ was recently banned, it is now potentially a criminal offence if a parent does not affirm their child into taking puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones.

As justice minister he introduced the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill. This included provisions on ‘stirring up hatred’, which pose a significant risk to free speech, and may even criminalise private conversations in Scots’ own homes. Thankfully, the Bill was at least amended during its passage through the Scottish parliament to remove prosecution for cases of unintentionally stirring up hate, which could have criminalised libraries for stocking contentious books. It’s lucky for Yousaf as well that the legislation is not yet in force. He was reportedly referred to the police for ‘misgendering’ the rapist Bryson, which would arguably have fallen foul of his Hate Crime Bill if it had been law.

For an individual who claims to oppose the ‘culture wars’, Yousaf has shown himself more than happy to stoke its flames. In a speech in the Scottish parliament, he recently engaged in what can only be described as a rant, listing senior public positions in Scotland held by people who are white, seemingly forgetting the fact that 96 per cent of the Scottish population are white as well.

He has also been happy to cosy-up to the Scottish Greens, whose co-convenor, Maggie Chapman, has previously said that eight-year-olds should be able to change sex and that ‘sex is not binary or immutable.’

There are some silver linings to Yousaf’s leadership, at least. He is gaffe prone. Just six months into his brief as transport minister, he received a fine of £300 and six penalty points after he was stopped by the police while driving a friend’s car without holding the proper insurance. And just a few weeks ago, during the election campaign, he jokingly asked a group of Ukrainian women in Edinburgh ‘where are all the men?’before it had to be pointed out to him that their partners were in Ukraine fighting the war.

If Scotland is lucky, this could be a very short-lived premiership. Many are already calling for a general election. A significant proportion of both the SNP membership and the country as a whole are opposed to his leadership. Many prominent voices, including JK Rowling, have his card firmly marked, while those rushing to his support include organisations engulfed in controversy, such as Mermaids.

Last year, a clip of Yousaf went viral after he fell off a scooter he was riding through the Scottish parliament. For the sake of free speech and sanity in Scotland, it is hopefully only a matter of time before Yousaf and the SNP come tumbling down in the same way.

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Published by Nelle

I am interested in writing short stories for my pleasure and my family's but although I have published four family books I will not go down that path again but still want what I write out there so I will see how this goes

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