Scottish Daily Mail

How Humza the hedgehog misses point


LUKE Skywalker has his lightsaber, Zorro his rapier, and Humza Yousaf his trusty Biro. The First Minister jabs his writing implement in the air to emphasise a key point, which yesterday was his commitment to a National Care Service.

Douglas Ross suggested the plans were uncosted and confusing. Jabber Yousaf reached for his ballpoint.

‘Sectoral bargaining’ – the nib swished and thrusted – ‘is at the heart of our plans’ – the inky weapon lunged and plunged – ‘for a National Care Service’. Yousaf tends to become demonstrat­ive with his pen when he’s under pressure. It’s a psychologi­cal bluff to give verbal waffle the appearance of cool confidence.

Ross tried another tack. If the First Minister was so confident in his proposals, why was his government refusing to hand over costing estimates to the Scottish parliament?

The Scottish Tory leader complained ministers had spent almost £2million on consultant­s. Honestly. The SNP finally creates jobs and all the Tories do is complain.

Yousaf tried to push back but his answer deflated like an overdone soufflé. ‘The muted applause hasn’t got any better since last week,’ Ross quipped. ‘No wonder – the answers haven’t got any better either.’

Yousaf has killed FMQs. There’s no sport in it any more.

It’s like watching a hedgehog potter across a dual carriagewa­y. You pray he’ll get to the other side without a sudden splat. He almost made it this week, but he tried to be clever, admittedly a relative term where the First Minister is concerned. He brought up polling showing Ross was ‘the least popular elected politician in the country’.

I slapped my forehead. He didn’t. Did he? He did.

Without even looking at Ross, I knew he was gesturing with two hands very close together. The poll the First Minister was citing, the one that put Ross’s unpopulari­ty at 43 per cent, put the First Minister’s at... 41 per cent. ‘The best retort Douglas Ross has is that I’m catching you up,’ he scoffed.

Yousaf went on with his answer. Wait for it... wait for it... Roughly five seconds later, he realised what he had just said. His mouth ran on but his eyes froze in a haunted sideways stare. I can’t claim to be a public relations expert but if the choice is between admitting that you are becoming more unpopular and not doing that, I’d advise going with the latter strategy.

The SNP benches only woke up later when Yousaf mentioned a particular subject. You can probably guess what it was.

It began with ‘inde’, ended with ‘pendence’ – and it had ‘utter desperatio­n’ in the middle.

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