Saturday, May 27, 2023

Humza Yousaf, the start of an uncertain era for Scottish separatists

Daniel PosticoLondon 28/03/2023 06:52h.

Yousaf with familyGetty

  • Scotland’s new prime minister is 37 years old, and represents the Social Democratic line of Sturgeon’s resignation

  • He puts it as a priority to fight against the serious social and economic problems of those working in Britain

  • He says that he wants Scottish independence, although he is not in favor of a plebiscite like his predecessor.

  • Humza Yousaf’s victory in the Scottish National Party (SNP) is the first sign of a new era in Scotland. A new age that no one knows very well where it is headed. The previous era was marked by two politicians of enormous charisma and political weight. First Alex Salmond (prime minister between 2008 and 2014) and then Nicola Sturgeon (2014-2023). Salmond’s term ended in 2014 with the loss of a referendum on independence.

    He was replaced by Nicola Sturgeon, who had a mandate for Brexit (rejected in Scotland and approved in Britain in the Kingdom) and called for a new independence referendum called by Sturgeon without the agreement of London for October 2023.

    The previous stage ended with the decision of the British Supreme Court in December 2021 stating that the Edinburgh Parliament did not have the power to hold a general consultation without the consent of London. Sturgeon resigned and announced the referendum by turning 2024 leaders into a plebiscite.

    Many SNP members believe that Sturgeon’s decision to take the case to court was a mistake that ended the legal dispute and the dream of a new referendum. He also ended a controversial law that allowed transgender identity change.

    All of this precipitated Sturgeon’s unexpected resignation on February 15 and the calling of the primaries. Sturgeon’s husband Peter Murrell, who had been leader of the party for 20 years, was forced to resign after it was revealed he had lied about the loss of 30,000 SNP members in the last two years. Murrell was also involved in an alleged financial fraud at the party.

    Sturgeon’s continuous line

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    Yousaf, who was Minister for Transport and Health, had neither the weight nor the charisma of Salmond and Sturgeon in the party. Yousaf is up against a strong internal division in the SNP, not only over the question of how to continue with the independence process after the Supreme Court ruling, but also over the political line to follow. For the last 40 years the SNP has been a social democratic party. In the first place, Yousaf represented a line of continuity with Sturgeon’s democratic and progressive social policies, including a cross-cutting law that opposed feminists and the majority party.

    Her rival, Kate Forbes, who was Sturgeon’s affairs minister, proposed a shift to more conservative policies. Yousaf beat Forbes in the second part of the primaries by 52% to 48%, a small margin that could force him to offer a portfolio in his government to Forbes to please his own. Forbes may impose some of its policies on you. Labor sees this new era as an opportunity to recover the state lost in Scotland after the Nationalists ousted it from power and almost extinguished it in 2008. Since then the SNP has won every election in the territories, both in the municipalities and in the regional or primaries.

    In his first speech, after winning the primaries, Yousaf said that his priorities were to tackle the crisis of the cost of living, abandoning expectations in the National Health Service (except that he was the minister of health and did not achieve that time. he was in office), the creation of more social housing, support centers of the day and support for achieving carbon neutralization. The policies with which they will compete with Labor.

    The fall of the separatists

    Also in his first speech, he stated that his great goal was the independence of Scotland, that it would be his generation that would make Scotland independent after Scotland renounced its government in 1877 to join Britain. And he defined himself as a Europaist. He wants Scotland to be independent so he can rejoin the European Union (EU).

    However, the independence of the military behind the legitimate investment of the Supreme Court is not clear. Yousaf is not in favor of turning next year’s elections into elections as Sturgeon intended (that is, including only the issue of freedom in the electoral program), which would mean focusing on things that would lose citizens, that affect them. And certainly victory is not recognized.

    Yousaf, like Forbes, proposes to increase the campaign to support the cause of independence to suppress the central government, but this is not an objective in the short or medium term. It could only be done with an overwhelming majority. Now, support for independence is at 45% (the same as in 2014), according to the polling firm YouGov.

    The peak was reached in 2020 and 2021 after the arrival of Johnson with 55% support for independence. Support for independence among young people between the ages of 16 and 24 is at 59%, but among those over 65 at 30%. Humza Yousaf also becomes the youngest prime minister in Scottish history at 37 years old and the first prime minister for a Muslim and ethnic minority.

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