Scottish politics 'more toxic' than ever, says Humza Yousaf

The First Minister said the atmosphere is very different to when he was first elected as an MSP

Scottish politics is “more toxic” than it has ever been, Humza Yousaf has said.

The new First Minister said the atmosphere in the Scottish Parliament is “very different” from 2011, when he was first elected as an MSP for the Glasgow region.

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Mr Yousaf, who became First Minister at the end of March following a bitter SNP leadership contest, made the comments in an interview with Holyrood magazine.

First Minister Humza YousafFirst Minister Humza Yousaf
First Minister Humza Yousaf

He was asked why he wanted to continue the co-operation agreement with the Greens, given policy problems in areas such as the delayed deposit return scheme and Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs), and the fact an independence referendum is likely not imminent.

Mr Yousaf said: “For a couple of reasons. One, you have to remember our membership voted for it overwhelmingly and I have made a big pitch about listening, quite rightly, to our membership.

"The second reason for me, having been elected to this place first in 2011, the atmosphere in 2011 compared to now is very different, and I and anybody who observes our politics, would say that the atmosphere here at times is more toxic than I think it’s ever been.”

He said the SNP “just constantly had the energy drained from us as a government” in the run-up to the 2021 Holyrood election, amid votes of no confidence and disruption from the opposition parties.

Mr Yousaf added: “The Greens will push us hard on a number of issues, and they’ll have to compromise on issues, it involves us having to compromise, and that’s not a bad way at all of doing politics. But for me as First Minister, having that majority in the chamber is worth its weight in gold.”

Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine said everyone with a position of responsibility “has a duty to try to take the temperature level down a little”.

She added: “It does not always prove easy however because from police centralisation to the proposed ministerial takeover of care services the SNP insist on pressing ahead with ill thought out legislation despite the warnings of Scottish Liberal Democrats and others..

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"I am more than happy to try to build consensus with the First Minister on tackling long waits for NHS treatment and the cost of living crisis. Sadly he is more interested in breaking up the UK and fighting fires in his own party."



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