Humza Yousaf questioned over new hate crime laws

Copyright: PA Media

Humza Yousaf may have taken the top role in Scottish politics, but the circumstances have been challenging at times.

In the space of 12 months, the SNP changed leader and first minister, chief executive, president, Westminster leader, treasurer and communications chief.

Then there were the arrests of former chief executive Peter Murrell, former treasurer Colin Beattie and former first minister Nicola Sturgeon, as part of a police investigation into the party’s funding and finances. All were released without charge pending further inquiries.

Policy-wise, Yousaf has abandoned a series of commitments from Nicola Sturgeon’s time in the job, including a ban on alcohol advertising, an expansion of Highly Protected Marine Areas and gender reform.

Sturgeon’s independence strategy has been retained, although activists remain restless about the lack of clear direction.

In the midst of an inflation crisis and a funding black hole, the Scottish government’s budget coupled tax rises with funding cuts.

Last year was also marked with personal strife for Yousaf as his wife’s parents were trapped in Gaza at the outset of the war.

In happier family news, he will be taking paternity leave in the summer when he becomes the first sitting first minister to welcome a child while in office.

Ace for the next year? Fierce criticism of the state of the NHS continues – recent revelations including delays to child spinal surgery – while the polarizing Hate Crime Act takes effect from Monday.

A UK general election also looms – the strategy for which is to frame all Tory seats as a straight fight with the SNP, despite a resurgent Labor in Scotland.