Iain Macwhirter Iain Macwhirter

It’s no surprise Humza Yousaf is courting Brian Souter

Brian Souter, Chairman of Stagecoach (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

It seems that Humza Yousaf is taking diversity seriously – though not as we know it. Scotland’s First Minister has apparently welcomed the Christian fundamentalist former bus tycoon Brian Souter, regarded as a homophobe by the Scottish Greens, back into the SNP fold. Changed days. 

The SNP needs all the help it can get with the business community in Scotland and Souter has been helping out schmoozing them, according to Politico. A freedom of information request revealed that Yousaf’s aides have been actively courting Scotland’s richest man following his sale of Stagecoach two years ago. 

SNP donations have all but dried up in recent years and the party needs cash for the upcoming general election campaign. In the past five years, the party has only received one donation over £50,000 from a living person. Souter used to be the SNP’s biggest donor before Nicola Sturgeon took over. They, however, didn’t see eye to eye on issues of personal morality. 

The character of the SNP is changing in ways that could not have been envisaged only a year ago when Nicola Sturgeon was still in Bute House.

Back in 2000, at the dawn of devolution, Souter bankrolled the infamous ‘Keep the Clause’ campaign to keep Clause 28 (Section 2A in Scotland) which banned the promotion of homosexuality in schools. It was an unholy alliance of tabloid newspapers, including the Daily Record, and the Roman Catholic Church in the august form of the late Cardinal Winning. Souter put up a reported £1 million to finance a referendum on keeping the clause, which is regarded as homophobic by LGBT campaigners. But he failed. The clause was abolished later that year by the Scottish parliament. 

However, Souter remained a close associate of Alex Salmond until 2014 and donated a total of £2.5

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Written by
Iain Macwhirter

Iain Macwhirter is a former BBC TV presenter and was political commentator for The Herald between 1999 and 2022. He is an author of Road to Referendum and Disunited Kingdom: How Westminster Won a Referendum but Lost Scotland.

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