Sarwar says SNP “chaotic and divided” after Humza Yousaf confirmed as leader

Morgan Jones

Anas Sarwar has said the Scottish National Party is “chaotic and divided” following the announcement that Humza Yousaf has been elected as the party’s new leader.

Yousaf was announced as the next SNP leader this afternoon, beating Kate Forbes by 52% to 48% in the second round of voting. Former minister Ash Regan was eliminated in the first round, in which Yousaf received 48% of the vote.

Yousaf has served as Health Secretary in First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s cabinet since 2021, having previously held the transport and justice briefs. Forbes, who serves as Finance Secretary, was critical of Yousaf’s record in his current role during the often acrimonious contest.

Yousaf has been a member of the Scottish parliament since 2011, representing the Glasgow region between 2011 and 2016 and Glasgow Pollok since 2016.

The Scottish Labour leader congratulated the new SNP leader on his election, stating that, regardless of their political differences, it was important to “pause for a moment and reflect on the election of what will be the first First Minister from an ethnic minority background”.

Sarwar described Yousaf’s election as “a significant moment for Scotland”, but added: “While Scotland faces the twin crises of the cost of living and the NHS emergency, it is clear that the SNP does not have the answers that Scotland needs.

“This chaotic and divided party is out of touch and out of ideas. Humza Yousaf has inherited the SNP’s woeful record, but he has not inherited Nicola Sturgeon’s mandate. We need an election now, and Scottish Labour is the change that Scotland needs.”

Sarwar has repeatedly called for an election, saying over the weekend: “If you look at what Nicola Sturgeon said when Rishi Sunak came to power without an election, she said it was a democratic imperative for him to have a mandate.”

He continued: “This is an SNP that screams about mandates. Let’s be honest, the next SNP First Minister will not have the mandate.”

The SNP leadership election was triggered last month when Sturgeon unexpectedly announced her intention to retire from her position as First Minister after eight years in the role. She assumed the role in 2014 following an uncontested election.

Speaking after Sturgeon’s resignation announcement, Sarwar said the former SNP leader has “secured her place” in history and declared that he had “never for a moment doubted” her passion for Scotland.

He said: “All too often, it is easy to forget that those on the frontline of our politics carry a heavy burden – not only for themselves but for their friends and families. I, and my entire party, wish her the best in whatever she does next.

“But our country, now more than ever, requires a politics focused on delivering the change Scotland needs – by uniting Scotland and not dividing it. It is clear that Scotland needs new ideas and new passion to make our country the best place to grow up and grow old in.”

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