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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
27 March 2024
Opposition criticises Humza Yousaf’s record as he marks a year as SNP leader

First Minister Humza Yousaf | Alamy

Opposition criticises Humza Yousaf’s record as he marks a year as SNP leader

Humza Yousaf has been credited with tackling child poverty and helping “reset” Scotland’s relationship with business as he prepares to mark a year as first minister.

A year on from winning the race to replace Nicola Sturgeon, Yousaf’s party said he had put Scotland’s “values and priorities first at every turn”.

But opposition parties accused Yousaf of presiding over “abject failures” during his first year in office.

SNP deputy leader Keith Brown hailed Yousaf for “resetting” Scotland’s relationship with business, tackling child poverty and supporting a just transition. He also commended the first minister for the stance he had taken over the conflict in Gaza.

Brown also praised Yousaf for his independence strategy, which he said had “united the party”. 

He said: “In the past year, the first minister has put Scotland’s values and priorities first at every turn – from delivering a budget that invests in our NHS and public services, to freezing council tax for households across Scotland to support people suffering from Westminster’s cost of living crisis, to resetting the Scottish Government's relationship with business. 

"It is leadership - and policy decisions - based on clear values. And Humza Yousaf's leadership is in stark contrast to the Westminster parties and their Scottish branch offices.” 

Brown added: “Where we see other party leaders hiding when things get tough, the first minister has stood up with courage and integrity when it has mattered most - not least in leading calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.” 

However, Yousaf’s main opposition at Holyrood has been less than complimentary of his first 365 days in office.  

Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross said Yousaf’s “independence obsession, abject failures and broken promises” were laid bare in a new Tory dossier released today, adding that he had “ignored Scotland’s real priorities”.  

The Scottish Conservatives said their dossier highlighted more than 100 areas where the first minister had fallen short, including the contraction of the Scottish economy, missed A&E targets, spending £134,000 of taxpayers’ money on nine independence papers, a rise in violent and sexual offences, and over 12,400 train cancellations.  

Similarly, the leader of Scottish Labour Anas Sarwar described Yousaf as a “weak leader” who is leading “a chaotic, divided” government.  

His party have also published a dossier which outlines 50 perceived failures of the first minister and his government.  

It accuses Yousaf of failing to sack Michael Matheson as health secretary while remaining silent “while he lied to the public”, failing to make progress on crucial climate policy, and overseeing NHS waiting lists which have increased by 9.5 per cent on last year.  

Ross said: “Humza Yousaf’s first year as SNP leader has been nothing short of a disaster for him, his party and – most importantly – the people of Scotland. 

“It’s a tale of independence obsession, abject failures and broken promises; of a first minister out of his depth and unable to control his feuding, scandal-ridden party.

“Humza Yousaf has ignored the real priorities of Scots – fixing our ailing public services and growing the economy – and instead doubled down on the SNP’s fixation with breaking up the UK, while cosying up to the anti-growth Greens. 

“This detailed and damning dossier lays bare his appalling record, which includes every A&E target being missed, Scotland’s economy shrinking, rising levels of violent and sexual crimes, unacceptable train cancellations at SNP-run ScotRail and public cash being squandered on independence propaganda papers.” 

Sarwar said: “After a year in post it is clear to see that Humza Yousaf is a weak leader, who is out of his depth and leading a chaotic and divided government that is not delivering for Scotland. 

“Every sector of our public services is now weaker thanks to Humza Yousaf’s SNP. 

“Not only is it clear to the people of Scotland that Humza Yousaf has no vision for the future – even his own former cabinet colleagues are saying so in public.  

“This is a record of shame and failure."

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