Humza Yousaf Voted in as Scotland's New First Minister
Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Humza Yousaf was voted in as Scotland’s new first minister on Tuesday, March 28.
Yousaf won the majority with 71 votes, receiving backing from fellow SNP members as well as Scottish Green Party members. In his speech following the announcement, Yousaf promised to work tirelessly for Scotland and its people, “stand up for parliament,” and “against any attempts to undermine devolution.”
Yousaf, who was born in Glasgow, is both the youngest and the first Muslim first minister of Scotland. Credit: Scottish Parliament via Storyful
- Thank you, members. In this round-- in this round of voting in the selection of the parliament's nominee as first minister, the number of votes cast for each candidate is as follows. Alex Cole-Hamilton, 4, Douglas Ross, 31, Anas Sarwar, 22, Humza Yousaf, 71. As an overall majority has been reached, the candidate selected as the parliament's nominee for the position of First Minister is Humza Yousaf.
Thank you. And I now call on Humza Yousaf.
HUMZA YOUSAF: Can I thank the other party leaders for their remarks? We are very aware, of course, that they may never be so nice to me again. And while the vote may have seemed like a formality, the fact that a few of my colleagues raised a point of order just after voting for me did raise my blood pressure ever so slightly.
And let me also remind Anas Sarwar in particular that I have his father's number on speed dial. So if he is not nice to me, I will be having words.
The generosity of comments that have been made matches the spirit of the remarks that were made by Donald Dewar 24 years ago when he became Scotland's first First Minister. Donald Dewar emphasized, and I quote, "the common aims that we shared across this chamber of giving people a better life and a better future."
The government I lead will dedicate itself very much to those aims. And I hope to work with colleagues across the chamber in doing so. And this is a proud day for me, a proud day for my family. And I can hear my three-year-old speaking and waving to me from the chamber. I'm only on my second page, darling. There's a little bit more to come.
It's a really proud day for me and my family. I hope it's also a proud day for Scotland as it speaks to our values as a country, as I stand here as the first ever Muslim to lead a Western democratic nation. You try telling that to 16-year-old Humza Yousaf, who post-9/11, was questioned constantly about his loyalty to this country. We have, presiding officer, collectively come a long way.
I am joined by too many family members and friends to mention, but I hope the chamber will indulge me, presiding officer, as there is a few that I would like to mention. My mom and dad have always been unwavering in their support of me. As a young Scots Asian, it was often the norm of expectation that we would end up as either doctors, dentists, pharmacists, accountants, or lawyers.
But I remember vividly the nerves I felt in the very pit of my stomach the day I decided to tell my parents that I wanted to study politics instead of law. Far from giving me, as my mom put it in news reports yesterday, a clip around the ear, they could not have been more supportive, saying it was vital, it was important that people like us were also represented in politics.
From that day to this very moment, they have encouraged me every single step of the way. I could not be making history without them. To my wife and my girls, you are my everything. And being first minister will not change that.
It may mean that you see me slightly less often. But to my three-year-old, Amal in particular, be aware there are plenty of stairs. So if you misbehave, there will still be a naughty step to put you on. Though so far, I am pleased that everyone seems to be on their best behavior.
Presiding officer, the years after 9/11 were not easy for Muslims growing up in Scotland or, indeed, across the UK. I've lost count of how many times my identity, my loyalty to Scotland, the only country I have ever and will ever call home, has been questioned over the years. There was a time not all that long ago when I felt I simply did not belong here in Scotland.
To go from there to now leading the government as Scotland's sixth First Minister, I hope sends a strong message to every single person out there who feels that they don't belong. No matter what anyone says, no matter who you are, whether Scotland has been your home for a day or for 10 generations, no matter your ethnicity, no matter your gender, no matter your religion, no matter your sexual orientation, your transgender identity or disability, this is your home. And do not let anyone ever tell you that you are not good enough.
Do not let anyone ever tell you that you do not belong. And as First Minister, I will always fight for your rights. And where possible, I will do everything I can to advance them. I will always stand up for social justice more widely and for making Scotland a fairer, as well as a wealthier, nation.
A key priority of my government will be to protect every Scot as far as we can from the harm that has been inflicted by the cost of living crisis. One of my first conversations as First Minister will be with anti-poverty groups to explore what more we can do within our devolved powers to tackle child poverty. We will protect and we will reform our NHS, and social care, and other vital public services to support our well being economy to improve the life chances of people right across our country.
We will rapidly develop plans to extend childcare, improve rural housing, support small businesses, and boost innovation. We will keep the promise that we have made to people with experience of the care system-- not just the young people, as important, of course, as that is. But we recognize that care experience is lifelong.
We will bring forward reforms of the criminal justice system, continue our work to reduce drugs death, and create a new deal with local government to empower our local authorities to meet the challenges of the day. We will support businesses. We will seize the economic and social opportunities of a just transition to net zero. And we will continue to ensure that Scotland uses its voice on the international stage.
On Thursday, I will nominate the team of ministers who will deliver on those priorities. I will then set out more detailed policies to this chamber in the first week after the Easter recess. I will be very proud to build on the record of the government that has been led by Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney-- the Scottish child payment, the expansion of childcare, Scotland's international leadership, and the transition to net zero, their championing of equality.
Through all of those achievements and many more besides, Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney have both left a significant legacy, of which I am very, very grateful to them for. But I know there's also so much more to come from both of them-- well, certainly once Nicola is finished taking her driving [INAUDIBLE] test, of course. I will also continue, as they did, to argue tirelessly for independence.
In my view, and it is, of course, the view of the majority in this parliament, that we will be able to deliver on our priorities more effectively when Scotland is independent. And we will certainly deliver them less effectively if we allow the UK government to arbitrarily veto this parliament's legislation.
Unsurprisingly, I will also argue vigorously for independence. And while I do that, of course, I understand that the strongest argument this government can make for independence is to make the best possible use of this parliament's existing powers. I want to reach out to other parties across the chamber as I do that.
That's why the point I want to end on today is not so much about what this government will do, but how we will do it. At the start of my speech, I stressed the common aims, the common values that we all share. Listening to many of the remarks made in the chamber, not just today, but also after Nicola Sturgeon's statement last Thursday, I think that there is probably a shared appetite across this chamber for a politics that is slightly less polarized and a bit less confrontational.
This government already works in cooperation with this Green Party under the House agreement. That will continue. But I also want to make an open offer to all leaders of all parties in this chamber. This isn't an offer that is made naively. I know that we will continue quite frequently to disagree forcefully. That is as it should be.
Politics requires strong, reasoned, respectful disagreement. But for all those disagreements, I also know that we share many areas of common ground, including many of the areas that have been outlined not just by me, but by each party leader today. That's why I will request early meetings with leaders of other parties in this chamber. I want to work with you where we can to achieve those shared aims.
I believe there is a willingness for that in this chamber and a desire for it right across this country. And just as I will reach out within this parliament, I will reach out beyond this parliament too. To the UK government, I want to stress that I will work with you where I can, when I can, in the best interests of our nation. To provide to partners in local government, the business community, the third sector, and the wider public sector, I promise that this government will listen to you and will work with you.
And above all else, to the people of Scotland, I want to make this pledge. I will never forget that I am First Minister for all of Scotland, regardless of who you voted for, where you live, or where you've come from. Yesterday, I mentioned my grandparents.
I've also thought a lot in recent days of my great friend and mentor, the late Bashir Ahmed. He also came to Scotland in the 1960s. He started off driving buses. He became the first member of this parliament from an ethnic minority. He was, by far, the kindest and most gentle soul I have ever known.
And if we were all a little bit more like Bashir, then I think our world would be in a far better place. He used to say that it isn't important where you come from. What matters is where we are going together as a nation. It is a phrase I think of often. It's a phrase which will guide how I and my government governs.
This parliament has just given me the opportunity to help steer this nation's course as we make the next stage of that journey together. Doing that will be the honor and the privilege of my life. I will strive every single minute of every day to be worthy of it. I look forward to working with each and every one of you as I do in the best interest of our nation. Thank you.
- Thank you.