SNP leadership contest: Humza Yousaf is the right choice to succeed Nicola Sturgeon – Angus Robertson
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Later this month, SNP members will be able to elect a successor to Nicola Sturgeon as party leader and first minister. All three candidates are proven election winners: Humza Yousaf has been returned three times as a Glasgow MSP, Kate Forbes has won back-to-back elections in the Highlands as has Ash Regan in Edinburgh East.
I have listened carefully to the campaign pitches from all three candidates and have been open-minded about backing either Humza Yousaf or Kate Forbes. To me, it has been important to hear about their policy priorities, their values and the team approach that they plan to take. The new SNP leader must represent an inclusive party that aspires to govern for the whole of Scotland, seek to deliver on the manifesto they were elected on, have new progressive policy ideas, and lead the broadest consensus in the party at all levels.
Since the campaign has started, I have been most impressed by Humza Yousaf who is the only candidate to stand up to Westminster’s veto of Scottish legislation, the only candidate who seeks to explicitly protect the rights of all in society and who is committed to the stable pro-independence government at Holyrood.
He has also outlined positive new proposals, such as:
Childcare: a £25 million-a-year fund would help with the cost of early-years childcare for parents returning to work with the prioritisation of childcare expansion for all one- and two-year-olds.
Housing: plans for empty properties to be purchased, or long leased, and turned into housing for key workers and those who need affordable housing in rural areas.
Energy: the Scottish Government would take an equity stake in Scotland's enormous renewable energy potential, boosting investment, delivering new jobs and ensuring profits from renewables are reinvested for the people of Scotland.
Community: supporting vital community groups which help the most vulnerable who are struggling with energy costs.
Democracy: defending the Scottish Parliament against repeated Westminster power grabs and seeking to safeguard our Parliament's right to make decisions.
On Scotland’s independent future, Humza Yousaf is right to underline that this will be won on the doorsteps. He has committed to give activists the tools they need by kickstarting a new Yes campaign, creating an instant rebuttal unit, and organising campaign workshops across the country.
Only one opinion poll of SNP members has been published so far and it shows Humza Yousaf has a nine-point lead amongst decided voters. Meanwhile he has secured three times as many endorsements by parliamentarians than the other candidates combined. It is a similar story when it comes to councillors and leading SNP activists across the country with strong support from rural and urban Scotland alike. Amongst prominent public supporters, Humza also has the backing of leading Scots stars like Alan Cumming and Stuart Braithwaite.
Political parties are only successful if they work together effectively with unity of purpose, talented team players, the best tactics and a winning mentality. Humza Yousaf is the SNP leadership candidate with the strongest commitment to progressive values, the strongest membership backing from all levels of the SNP, and he is a committed team player. It has to be Humza.