By: Chandrashekar Bhat
Scotland’s next first minister Humza Yousaf has pledged to deliver independence for his country and return it to the European Union.
In his acceptance speech on Monday (27), when he became the first Asian elected to lead the Scottish National Party (SNP), Yousaf also paid tribute to his grandparents and said the “journey over generations reminds us that we should celebrate migrants who contribute so much to our country.”
His grandparents, who could not speak English when they migrated from Pakistan’s Punjab to the UK 60 years ago, “could not have imagined their grandson would one day be on the cusp of being the next first minister of Scotland”, he said.
His grandfather Muhammad worked in the Singer Sewing Machine Factory in Clydebank in the 1960s.
“We should all take pride in the fact that today we have sent a clear message, that your colour of skin, your faith, is not a barrier to leading the country we all call home,” Yousaf said, adding it drives his commitment to equality.
The health secretary in the outgoing Nicola Sturgeon government underlined his resolve to work for achieving Scotland’s independence – his party’s primary objective for years.
In the 2014 referendum, Scotland voted against a breakup from the UK by 55 per cent to 45 per cent and the popular mood has not reversed according to several opinion polls since.
Westminster has blocked Sturgeon’s attempts at having a second vote on independence and the Supreme Court also backed the UK’s government’s stand.
But Yousaf, 37, said, “we will be the generation that delivers independence for Scotland.”
“My solemn commitment to you is that I will kickstart our grassroots, civic-led movement and ensure our drive for independence is in fifth gear. The people of Scotland need independence now more than ever before…”
He, however, said his immediate priorities will be to address the cost-of-living crisis and reform the NHS and other vital public services.
“I will move quickly to develop plans to extend childcare, improve rural housing, support small businesses, and boost innovation.
“I will bring forward reforms of the criminal justice system and work with the local government to empower our local authorities.”