As he took office last week commentators, myself included, compared the new First Minister Humza Yousaf to Liz Truss, the chaotic, unpopular and short-lived former leader of the Conservative Party. Yousaf is similarly unpopular with voters, has a record of serial ministerial failure and, like Truss, has surrounded himself with a cabinet of cronies. Nor is Yousaf expected to linger very long in Bute House. Right on cue, the first poll since Humza’s installation as FM shows the SNP lead over Labour cut to 6 per cent – enough for the nationalists to lose 18 seats in next year’s general election.
However, now we have seen the First Minister’s priorities after his first week in office, perhaps the better comparison is not with Liz Truss but with Jeremy Corbyn. The Humza ministerial team is what a Corbyn cabinet might have looked like had Jezza won in 2017: young, red-green and pronoun-friendly, complete with a minister, Emma Roddick, who describes herself ‘queer’. Yousaf’s policy agenda is very Labour manifesto 2017. Public spending, wealth taxes, gender reform and sustainable energy, all packaged with greenwash and homilies about wellbeing.
The Guardian columnist, Owen Jones, penned a guest column in the nationalist tabloid, The National, giving Team Humza, the Labour left imprimatur. He portrayed Scotland as a land newly liberated from the dark forces of international transphobic neoliberalism. ‘If Kate Forbes had triumphed’ he thundered, ‘it would have been hailed as a victory for social reactionaries across the Western world’. It was all he could to stop himself chanting ‘Oh Humza Yousaf’.
Yousaf has made student politics into a principle of governance. There shall be no truck with capitalists, who as we all know are responsible for climate chaos, colonialism and slavery. Indeed, business has been cancelled by Humza. There is no longer a dedicated ministerial post of that name now the former business minister, Ivan McKee, has gone to join the former Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes on the backbenches.