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Third sector reacts to election of new SNP leader

This news post is about 1 year old

Humza Yousaf MSP will be voted in as first minister on Tuesday

Scotland’s third sector has welcomed Humza Yousaf’s election as the new leader of the SNP, with calls for him to prioritise child poverty and climate action as first minister. 

Mr Yousaf, MSP for Glasgow Pollok, was elected ahead of fellow MSPs Kate Forbes and Ash Regan, is expected to be elected as first minister on Tuesday following Nicola Sturgeon’s departure. 

The win saw Mr Yousaf receive 48.2% of members’ votes in the first round of voting, and 52.1% after the third-placed candidate’s votes were distributed. 

Speaking after the announcement, Mr Yousaf said: “I feel like the luckiest man in the world to be standing here as leader of the SNP.

“I will work every minute of every day to earn and re-earn your respect and your trust. I will do that by treating you, the people of Scotland, with respect.

"There will be no empty promises or easy soundbites when the issues in front of us are difficult and complex.

"Because government is not easy and I won’t pretend that it is."

Charities have outlined their expectations for the politician in the remainder of the parliamentary term. 

Reacting to the election of Humza Yousaf as SNP leader and prospective first minister, Poverty Alliance director Peter Kelly said: “During his campaign, Humza Yousaf told Poverty Alliance members that action on poverty and inequality should be the defining mission of his leadership. 

“We agree, and we look forward to working with our new first minister, so that together we can build a better Scotland, where the injustice of poverty is a thing of the past.” 

Campaigners from climate activist group Fridays for Future called for Humza Yousaf to live up to his commitments made during the election campaign. 

The group also expressed concern about the levels of support for other candidates, citing issues such as the move towards a just transition, LGBTQ+ rights and reproductive justice. 

​​In a statement, the group said: “Fridays For Future Scotland wish to congratulate Humza Yousaf on winning the SNP Leadership election and look forward to his term as first minister, if approved by the Scottish Parliament.

“We welcome his stances on phasing out fossil fuels and tackling the climate crisis so far. Scotland remains uniquely positioned with an abundance of renewable energy sources. 

“Progress has been made under Nicola Sturgeon with the Deposit Return Scheme and improvements to Just Transition schemes for oil workers, but the most important work still lies ahead of us. We sincerely hope that Scotland, under Humza Yousaf’s leadership, will rise to this challenge.

“Ultimately, Scotland needs to do much more to be in line with global climate targets. Under an SNP government many sectors, for example, agriculture and transport, have seen virtually no emissions reductions, and multiple road projects have been approved. When the whole world is failing, being a world leader is not enough; there is no use in being the fastest snail. 

“We do not have the luxury of taking things one step at a time; we need a just transition away from fossil fuels  as quickly as possible. We hope that Humza Yousaf will make the tough decisions we need in order to secure a liveable future for all. Of all three candidates, his comments have shown the best understanding of the climate crisis and what must be done to tackle it.”

This message was underlined by other charities, including Christian Aid. 

Head of Christian Aid Scotland Val Brown said: "Too many communities around the world are living on the frontline of the climate crisis, including in Malawi where recent cyclones have devastated lives.

"With IPCC scientists warning of worse to come, world leaders need to step up and act: we need global climate justice now.

"That is our message to Humza Yousaf today. Now is the time for even greater ambition to ensure we support communities who have done the least to cause the climate crisis."