Humza Yousaf has held various positions in the Scottish Government, including minister for external affairs and international development, minister for Europe and international development, cabinet secretary for justice, and, since 2021, cabinet secretary for health and social care. He graduated from the University of Glasgow with an MA in politics.
Yousaf is known for his progressive policies and activism on issues such as social justice, human rights, and anti-racism. He has been a vocal advocate for minority rights and has worked to promote greater diversity and inclusion in Scottish politics. He has the same views as Nicola Sturgeon on abortion clinic buffer zones, same-sex marriage, gender recognition and banning conversion practices.
Most recently, there have been publications mentioning Yousaf’s commitment with regard to abortion. In one of them, it is said that he commits to introducing abortion up to birth and sex-selective abortion in Scotland. However, there is no link for his statement on this. As he stated in one of his tweets, he supports Back Off Scotland‘s calls, one of which is to improve access to abortion care, available up to 24 weeks. This needs to be clarified.
According to the Abortion Act 1967, abortion is legal in Great Britain up to 28 weeks’ gestation. A different legal position exists in Northern Ireland, following the UK Government’s Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019. In brief, the Abortion (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2020 allow access to abortion up to 12 weeks gestation.
As cabinet secretary for health and social care, Yousaf has faced challenges. Although he secured the largest pay package in the history of NHS; a £568mn pay deal committed for Agenda for Change in 2023-24, the Scottish Government needs to come forward with a detailed plan with regard to a recovery schedule since the pandemic. There is a need of modelling to predict demand on services and the NHS’s capacity to meet that demand. The health system is still under extreme pressure.
Yousaf’s plans on green energy
Yousaf unveiled plans to unite business leaders in a bid to substantially increase Scotland’s green energy output and slash soaring energy bills for working families in Scotland. Yousaf has outlined such a move would allow for substantial export opportunities in energy and hydrogen, creating a serious competitive advantage for energy-rich businesses in Scotland. He mentioned the result would be lower bills and wider access to more affordable green energy for families and businesses across Scotland.
Commenting, Yousaf said:
“Working families and households are on their knees due to this Tory cost of living crisis. Household bills are soaring, while wholesale gas prices drop and energy companies rake in eye watering profits. The lack of support from Westminster is there for us all to see and Scots are crying out for help.
“Scotland is an energy rich country. Our citizens should not be living in fuel poverty and struggling to heat their homes or turn the lights on. Scots are subject to a broken Westminster energy system that penalises consumers by fixing the price of wholesale gas. It’s a disgrace and the Tories’ plan to increase energy prices even further this April will have devastating consequences for households in Scotland.
“My top priority as your next First Minister would be to build the energy security Scotland so desperately needs through a revolutionary increase in our green energy capacity. By focusing minds in Government and the private business sector, we can create a Green Innovation Masterplan for Scotland that not only cuts bills and hands consumers access to affordable green energy, we can create hundreds of thousands of new skilled jobs and bring billions into our economy.
“I will use the Scottish National Investment Bank to unleash that potential and grant green energy businesses a competitive advantage to take the handbrake off Scotland’s economic and green energy potential.
“The Tories are far too happy to sit on their hands with this issue. I’m not, and it is time for serious and aggressive action to get to grips with this crisis.”
Yousaf plans to establish regional party assemblies
According to Yousaf, the route to independence should not be a discussion at conference only. It should involve members across the country to establish a route to an independent Scotland. As he stated:
“The only way we can counteract the anti-democratic actions of Westminster is through more democracy, embedded all across our society – including our party.
“Within my first week as SNP Leader, I will immediately set up Regional Assemblies across Scotland to build on the discussions of all our members and branches on how to win independence. This will allow our party to decide our collective plan for independence at Annual Conference and, as your SNP Leader, I will act upon the collective and democratic decisions of our members.”
Yousaf economic plans for an independent Scotland
Yousaf has set out an ambitious, progressive plan to use the full powers of independence to abandon the failed Westminster economic consensus and take bold action to build a new economic model which puts the equality, happiness and health of all Scotland’s citizens at its heart. His pledges are:
- Bring trade unions and workers into the heart of economic policy – abolishing restrictive anti-trade union laws, setting up an action plan for greater collective bargaining, and expanding the right to flexible working, to allow parents and carers to work around school hours.
- Redesign the electricity market, breaking the link between the price of electricity and the price of gas – a key driver of current high prices for households and businesses.
- Using oil and gas revenues and new borrowing powers, commit to a £20bn investment fund to invest in large scale affordable housing, renewable energy and higher-speed internet in remote and rural areas.
- Rejoin the European Union, escaping the disaster of Brexit which is predicted to cost Scotland around £3.2bn in economic output per year, and giving Scottish businesses access to the EU single market, seven times the size of the UK market.
- Pioneer new ways of doing business by legislating to help workers organise co-operative buyouts or rescues when a business is up for sale or under threat, sharing wealth and power with their workers.
Yousaf race in the SNP leadership
A survey from Savanta ComRes puts Yousaf on 31%, Forbes on 25% and Regan on 11%, and undecided on 32%.
It is very clear that Yousaf has been backed by strong names in his party such as John Swinney and Stephen Flynn, which would certainly mean continuity of what the SNP has been these past few years. Also, it seems his campaign is well organised, with numerous people contributing to it. As an example, Bylines Scotland receives at least five press releases every day!
Some of the content in this article is based on press releases from [email protected]