Humza Yousaf is good news for the Union
The new SNP leader is an example of the UK's strength
Welcome to racist, Terf Island Britain, where a practising Hindu is Prime Minister and a practising Muslim is now on his way to becoming First Minister of Scotland. For all Britain’s problems today — and there are many, no doubt still including racism in parts of our national life — it is hard not to marvel at the country’s emergence as perhaps the most successful multiethnic democracy on earth. Even more marvellous than this, however, is how little anybody seems to care.
When Rishi Sunak was elected Prime Minister last year, his elevation seemed to throw some commentators off guard, particularly those in the US. For those like Trevor Noah, for example, who had spent so long likening Brexit to Donald Trump, it seemed the only way to make sense of Sunak’s election was to claim it had sparked a non-existent “backlash”. Today, however, the election of 37-year-old Humza Yousaf as the first person of colour to lead the Scottish National Party has caused a similar level of indifference, just as Sadiq Khan’s did in London. When it comes to Yousaf, what people really care about is not his ethnicity but whether he will be successful in his bid to break up the UK.
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Herein lies one of the great challenges of covering modern Britain today. In many respects, the country is in a terrible state. As the polling expert John Curtice has observed, Britain is now a place where taxes are high and public services terrible. In large part this is because the country’s economic performance has been so poor for so long that the effects are starting to be felt across the board. On top of this, a little under half of the Scottish population currently wants to secede, Northern Ireland exists in a state of near-permanent political crisis, and the Brexit revolution has yet to settle on an obvious political and economic strategy backed by a settled majority in Westminster. There is a feeling of national stasis sapping the kind of energy a country needs to drive itself forward.
And yet, despite it all, there are also plenty of other indicators that suggest Britain is doing, well, okay. Economic growth is not disastrous, just disappointingly average; the years of turmoil and division that gripped the country from 2016 seem to be coming to an end; and relations with neighbouring countries are improving once again.
Perhaps most importantly of all there remains a heavy liberal consensus which anchors the country throughout all its various storms. No one, for example, thinks the election of Rishi Sunak or Humza Yousaf risks the kind of angry white backlash that Barack Obama blames for Donald Trump’s election. Britain today is just not in a state of violent upheaval like France, near-revolutionary torment like Israel, or angry national division like the US. Whisper it, but it may be on the road to becoming boring again.
If there is a backlash to Sunak or Yousaf it will not be directed at their race, but at their politics: to Sunak’s Toryism and Yousaf’s constitutional radicalism (or social liberalism). And if anyone is to benefit from the fierce reaction to their politics, it will be Sir Keir Starmer — the most centrist of politicians. One great irony of Humza Yousaf’s election, then, is that while his stated political goal is the disintegration of the UK, he might well be an example of its strength.
A white male as mediocre (to quote Kate Forbes) as Yousaf would have been consigned to the backbenches a long time ago. His success in the leadership campaign is not due to how multi-culti we are. He is the preferred candidate of the Nicola faction. They put their weight behind him because they know he will do what he is told. As well as mediocre, he is also charisma-free, so he is going nowhere without the backing of the Nicola faction. They will ditch him as soon as the time is right for a Nicola comeback.
In the US we were given a mediocrity no one ever heard of for two presidential terms because any criticism of him was denounced as “racist”. If he had stayed merely mediocre, we might have gotten through it, but the evil creatures running him were bent on “fundamentally changing the United States of America” and the entire world sees our ongoing destruction unfolding in real time.
It was the same with Liz Truss. She was supported by Boris Johnston. He had lost the trust of the majority of MPs but he still had a strong following amongst the electorate and thus her initial success…
Bravo, U.K. Lots of virtue-signaling here. And, just to prove that’s what it is, you refer to Yousaf as a “person of color”. What a gaffe. That’s the only way progressives can think of ethnicity. To clarify: with the rare exceptions of the albino genetic trait, all human beings have melanin in their epidermis: some more, some less. We are ALL persons of color. So, drawing arbitrary lines on this in order to group people into handy categories is… marginally racist. Oooo. Now that’s not a progressive virtue, is it? Want to really be able to tout your inclusiveness? Try following the advice of Martin Luther King, Jr. and drop all the color language. Become truly color blind in word and deed. Then you might have something to be proud about.
The U.K. Is blessed with the multi-ethnic variety it has that seemingly ( though not always ) work together in part because they don’t have professional race hustlers and grievance mongers like the U.S. does. This is an epiphenomenon of U.S. culture that has nothing to do with whether our people are more racist than Brits. Bit the British find comfort in the canard that “America is a racist country.” Poppycock.
Precisely, old habits die hard, and opinions cannot change that quickly.
I have just been reading old family diaries of the days of Empire:-
“The still of evening punctuated only by the hiss of tonic being poured into the gin, and the staccato crack of the Overseers whip on naked black buttocks, and the subsequent yelp, as the sun sets, and the insects gather to feast”
O happy days indeed. We shall not see their like again.
At least Glaswegian women can now get stoned without having to buy any weed?
You mean person of colour? Why are you yanks so averse to the letter U?
I would question your assertion that the UK does not have its own cohort of grievance mongers, whatever their particular grievance. Perhaps not quite as bad as the US, but that’s not saying much.
So why is Yousaf so bothered that all the main ministerial and managerial posts in Scotland are occupied by “whites”? Racism isn’t dictated by melanin but by what it represents.
It may be ‘good news for the union’ but it’s very bad news for anyone who cares about maintaining our hard won individual freedoms.
Yes, agreed. In June 2021 it was reported in the press that Yousaf was introducing a law that meant people could be arrested for criticising Islam (but not Christianity) in their own homes, on the basis that this constituted a hate crime – or was it blasphemy? Can we expect further moves in this direction from Yousaf?
Presumably it will be a short tenure given his recycling of the GRA? Very odd political instincts.
Your first paragraph describes what may be called the honeymoon period. The long, unhappy, perhaps sometimes abusive, marriage awaits us all.
So much to say already covered by others. What stood out for me is what was said by Obama – I didn’t realise the extent to which he played the lazy, tired race card. Trump is not alone in being divisive.
You mean that Yousaf is a “practising” Muslim, don’t you?
No, not in British English.
They’re both still practising? I’d have thought they’d have got the hang of it by now!
Don’t you mean English English?
Sorry, I didn’t mean criticize the spelling (now corrected), I was thinking about the use of the word itself.
Is he a “practising” Muslim or a practising Muslim
Orthography aside, I assume that by ‘practising’ muslim you mean ‘believing’ muslim. I am forced to wonder whether a believing muslim from a Pakistani cultural background is likely to be a genuine subscriber to the ‘woke’ agendas of the SNP (in particular the commitment to gay marriage which he has already sidestepped) and if so whether he is likely to be a trustworthy supporter of core British values, woke or not.
Given his stated intention to break up the UK, I would be surprised if he has any interest in core British values. It is indeed difficult to see how someone of such a religious persuasion can at the same time be devout and a supporter of gay marriage (where he was conspicuously absent for the vote). At least Forbes was honest enough to say that despite her beliefs, she accepted the democratic decision.
Given that he has declared that his religious beliefs will not influence his politics, I would say that he should be classed as a “lapsed Muslim” — surely the only type of Muslim who could possibly have any real interest in “core British values”.
Not lapsed, but opportunistic.
a member of the McCaliphate clan… Tartan hijabs, and a pint with a nice head in it at the aluak bar of The Severed Arms?
A quite marvellous example of truly fearless satire — clever, succinct, and extremely funny, though perhaps not to all tastes.
My humble thanks… See you at the bring and buy a wife sale at The Presbyterian Church cali fete…
I was going to write some excoriating comments about Humza Yousaf, the SNP, racism, and Scottish independence… and then
Even more marvellous than this, however, is how little anybody seems to care.
…about any of it.
The worst racists are those who see racism everywhere except within their own ‘community’ of course.
Yousaf is disastrous news full stop. There is no point looking for a silver lining when he is there, right now, with his hands on the levers of power. He will accelerate his program of division and destruction, and his baleful influence won’t stop at the border either. This is a nothing short of a catastrophe.
Starmer is a Corbynite wolf in a centrist sheep’s clothing. Today’s ban on Corbyn standing as a Labour candidate is just theatre designed to help him get elected.
Nice succinct summation. Love the ‘…heavy liberal consensus which anchors the country throughout all its various storms’. And thank goodness for it. I’m sure most UnHerd regulars will concur.
No great fan of the SNP, but v much welcome Yousaf’s election.
I welcome it because he appears to be the least popular out of the three amongst the wider Scottish electorate
Yes the electoral advantage that may provide to Starmer not lost on me either
I think Starmer is a horribly slimy politician personally, no more trustworthy than Boris but just less brazen about it. If him and Sunak (and Truss and Johnson before them) are the best Britain has to offer as politicians then the country is sorely lacking in leadership
I’ve some doubts about Starmer too, but I fear you may run out of invective for someone truly malign and toxic if you see likes of Starmer and Sunak as exceptionally untrustworthy. Politics is tough business they get a heap of manure poured on them from somewhere everyday. Now that goes with the territory but holding together broad coalitions, which is what all Parties are, not easy.
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