Humza Yousaf names first cabinet minus SNP deputy leader Keith Brown
HUMZA Yousaf has unveiled his first cabinet, appointing his deputy first minister Shona Robison to the all-important job of finance secretary.
He sacked justice secretary Keith Brown, the SNP’s elected deputy leader, who now leaves the government.
Mr Brown was at the heart of the recent controversy over the double-rapist Adam Graham being sent to a women's prison after identifying as Isla Bryson.
Half the 10-member cabinet are aged under 40, and for the first time most are women.
Mr Yousaf said his ambitious team reflected his priorities of "tackling child poverty, improving public services and building a fairer, greener economy".
Labour said it cemented "the SNP’s new status as a deeply divided party led by B-rate politicians".
Ms Robison, who previously employed Mr Yousaf’s wife Nadia El-Nakla in her constituency office, quit the government in 2018 after coming intense pressure as health secretary.
Appointed to the brief in 2014, she resigned on the eve of a reshuffle following weeks of criticism about NHS failings, including at her local Tayside health board.
As health secretary she also famously promised to eradicate delayed discharge in 2015
She returned as social justice secretary after the 2021 Holyrood election.
She replaces Kate Forbes, who narrowly lost to Mr Yousaf in the SNP leadership contest, and who quit the government rather than accept a demotion to Rural Affairs.
Ms Forbes’s supporter Ivan McKee quit as a junior trade minister this morning after also being offered what his supports claimed was a lesser position.
However there were also claims that he was offered exactly the same job, and left because he wanted a promotion to the cabinet.
Mr Yousaf was officially sworn in as Scotland’s sixth first minister this morning in a ceremony at the Court of Session by the country’s highest judge, the Lord Presidernt Lord Carloway.
He then returned to his Bute House residence to work on his reshuffle, with a succession of ministers and cabinet secretaries arriving over the course of the morning.
Ms Robison’s role emerged around 1pm.
In previous governments, the finance and economy roles were combined.
However Mr Yousaf split it, giving Ms Robison finance and responsibility for the Scottish budget. He gave his leadership campaign manager Neil Gray a “Wellbeing economy” brief.
Junior ministers are expected to be announced later, including a minister for independence.
The members of the cabinet are:
Angela Constance - Justice and Home Affairs
Jenny Gilruth - Education and Skills
Mairi Gougeon - Rural Affairs, Land Reform and Islands
Neil Gray - Wellbeing Economy, Fair Work and Energy
Mairi McAllan – Net Zero and Just Transition
Michael Matheson – NHS Recovery, Health and Social Care
Angus Robertson remains Constitution, External Affairs and Culture
Shona Robison - Finance portfolio, including responsibility for the Scottish Budget
Shirley Anne-Somerville - Secretary for Social Justice
Mr Yousaf also reappointed Nicola Sturgeon’s chief of staff, Colin McAllister, to the role.
Mr McAllister was briefly a special adviser to Mr Yousaf in his past life as external affairs ministers.
The First Minister said: “The Cabinet team I have unveiled reflects the priorities that we will pursue as a government – including tackling child poverty, improving public services and building a fairer, greener economy.
“Ahead of my appointment as First Minister, I have committed myself to a radical, ambitious and progressive policy agenda for Scotland – and I know that this team is the right one to deliver it.
“I want to thank those Ministers departing government for their leadership over the last few years, through many storms not of our making – the economic damage caused by Brexit, the COVID-19 pandemic, austerity and the cost of living crisis.
"Those Ministers – led so ably by Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney - leave a strong legacy for the new team to build on.
“I have made clear my belief Scotland’s government should look as much as possible like the people we represent. As well as being the first ever First Minister from a minority ethnic background, I am pleased that a record number of women have agreed to serve, as well as a significant blend of younger and more experienced members.
"That said, every single appointment has been made on merit.
“Every single person in this government is clear that it is for the people of Scotland to determine their constitutional future – no one else – and we will work to ensure that they are given that right.
"As we make the case for Scottish independence, we will continue to govern well and demonstrate to the people of Scotland the benefits of decisions about their lives being taken here in Scotland.
“Subject to Parliament’s approval, the new Ministerial team is ready to get to work delivering for the people of Scotland.”
Scottish Tory chairman Craig Hoy MSP said: “This is a cabinet in Humza Yousaf’s image – failed, continuity ministers appointed by a failed, continuity minister.
“The likes of Shona Robison, Michael Matheson, Angela Constance and Jenny Gilruth have been found sorely wanting in previous ministerial roles, yet all have been ‘rewarded’ with promotion by the new First Minister.
“In a rare display of self-awareness, Humza Yousaf appears to have recognised his own abject failure as health secretary by adding ‘NHS Recovery’ to that brief.
“This cabinet of proven flops and lackeys not only excludes Kate Forbes – who came within a whisker of beating Humza Yousaf in the vitriolic SNP leadership race – but anyone who backed her.
“Humza Yousaf clearly has no intention of ending the SNP’s civil war – just getting his revenge and declaring victory in it.
“Instead of offering an olive branch to the huge chunk of the party that didn’t back him, he would rather pander to the extremist Scottish Greens by giving a ‘wellbeing economy’ minister cabinet status.
“We all fear for the wellbeing of the economy with the Greens in government.”
Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie said: “The First Minister promised to bring the country together, but he can’t even bring his own party together.
“This dismal cabinet cements the SNP’s new status as a deeply divided party led by B-rate politicians.
“Loyalty is being rewarded over talent – but both are in short supply in the SNP.
“At the heart of this continuity government are some of the most incompetent politicians of the last decade, set to deliver more of the same failure.
“While the SNP are mired in chaos, Scottish Labour is united in our vision to deliver the change Scotland desperately needs.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton added: "I wish nothing but the best for any ministers who are prepared to actually focus on the people's priorities.
"But all of these figures have been part of the ministerial team that has fixated on division at the price of spiralling NHS waiting lists, disruption in our schools and missed climate emergency targets.
“The downgrading of housing and local government doesn’t bode well for sectors already in crisis on the SNP’s watch.
“Humza Yousaf could instead be adopting Scottish Liberal Democrat plans that would make every home a warm one and value the important work of councils through a power surge.
“It’s also not clear where transport fits into this mix. Will they just be taking it in turns to make excuses about the ferries?
“While we are crackling with ideas, the SNP will continue to haemorrhage reasonable, fair-minded minded voters who simply want good governance and aren’t fussed about the constitution."
Ms El-Nakla is an SNP councillor on Dundee City Council.
Her register of interests states under remuneration: “Employed – Senior Case Officer to Shona Robison MSP (Contract to end 9th June 2022)”