My thoughts on the the new SNP Leader

Wednesday March 29th 2023


Midlothian MP, Owen Thompson, writes his monthly column for Midlothian View

After the weeks of debate and questioning I’m delighted to see Humza Yousaf elected as the new SNP Leader and First Minister of Scotland. I’ve backed Humza from the minute he announced his candidacy as I’ve no doubt he’ll make an excellent First Minister. Even before securing this win Humza has already visited Midlothian, with an afternoon at the MAEDT community café where I’m told he served a decent cup of tea! I’m sure we’ll see Humza back in Midlothian again soon and I’m very much looking forward to working with him as First Minister.

While there were undoubtedly some challenging exchanges during the leadership contest what was clear from all candidates, but especially from Humza, was the positive vision they have for Scotland. With Humza’s win we will see the Scottish Government continue to develop and progress policy to make Scotland a fairer more equal country. Yet the steps we can take are still limited by the constraints of devolution. Only with the full powers of Independence can we truly tackle some of the most challenging inequalities that remain in our Nation.

Now compare this positive vision for a progressive, forward looking country to the recent actions of the UK Government. While the SNP look to make Scotland a fairer more equal society the UK Government is attacking some of the most vulnerable People on the planet in their misguided mission to ‘stop the boats’. The UK takes only a fraction of the number of refugees other nations host, yet the hostile environment here would see some of the most vulnerable people in the world flown to Rwanda to be processed. We should be helping refugees, not persecuting them.

We’ve also seen this UK Government introduce voter ID, making it more difficult to cast a vote apparently in the hope that those who don’t support them will simply not bother voting. Between this and attacks on the Unions, limiting rights to protest and refusing to accept even the most basic principles of democracy for Scotland, this is a Tory Government badly out of touch.

While millions struggle with the cost of living made worse by the disastrous 49 days of PM Liz Truss, this Tory Government do the bare minimum to help those struggling most, but find plenty of time to award multi million pound contracts to cronies and donors, while making tax cuts for the wealthiest and even removing the cap on bankers bonuses. This is not a government that wants to see a fairer more equal society, this is a Government looking out for themselves.

With so many faults in this Tory Government you would this at this stage we would see clear water between them and Labour, but sadly on so many issues it’s so difficult to tell their positions apart. Even on issues like small boats, the language Labour use is different, and they may not use detention in Rwanda, but they still want to stop those seeking our help and support from being allowed to come to these isles.

Then there’s the elephant in the room, Brexit! Labour sadly are as pro Brexit as the Torys these days. They say they want to ‘make Brexit work’ yet everybody knows it simply can’t. We’ve already seen the impact of Brexit on food supplies, and many of the recruitment issues in our public services are down to a lack of EU nationals who moved away after the Brexit vote.

The Labour Party was founded on the principles of fairness, equality, solidarity and to secure Home Rule for Scotland. How far the party have travelled, and while undoubtedly a better option than the current corrupt Tory Party, its critical any New Labour Government be held to account and not just given a free run with placed lobby fodder. Who knows, with the right pressure they might even finally move to abolish the house of Lords, it’s only been promised for 100+ years

Regardless of who forms the next Government in Westminster the challenges remain for Scotland to move but main UK parties continue to deny democracy to Scotland, for now, but with Humza’s leadership the case for Independence will continue to grow and for my own part, I’ll keep pressing whoever holds power in No10 to deliver on their promises, and to keep them honest when they forget it’s the people they represent, not their own self interests.

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