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Scotland’s first Muslim leader could transform the country in these 16 ways



A new era for Scotland

Humza Yousaf, Scotland’s new first minister, is the millennial son of Pakistani immigrants and a politician who supports his party’s alliance with the Scottish Greens and advocates independence for Scotland. Yousaf is the first non-elected leader in the role since the founding of the Scottish parliament in 1999. His appointment marks a generational shift toward youth across Scotland’s political elite.

A socialist for Scotland

Yousaf describes himself as a “socialist,” and he plans to tax the wealthy and attack child poverty. He won the election on a platform of progressive policies that included trans rights and Scottish independence. His message was that of a transformative leader, in contrast to his predecessor’s continuity. However, he faces the challenge of invigorating the party after it has ruled Scotland for over a decade.

Income vs. wealth tax

To lift people out of poverty, Yousaf proposes that assets, not just income, be taxed. Some countries already tax the net wealth of hyper-rich individuals, requiring them to declare the total value of assets as homes, jewelry, and art to pay a small portion of their worth. The occasional audit ensures such systems’ integrity. Promising this tax, Yousaf could gain wider public support for progressive policies.

Worker ownership

Yousaf encourages a worker ownership model for Scotland’s businesses. As transport secretary, he already nationalized Scotland’s train company, ScotRail, and he suggests that railway workers should own a share of that business. Likewise, Ferguson Marine needs an injection of worker control. Furthermore, Yousaf believes worker co-ops must be prioritized in procurement policies or by giving workers some of the government’s powers.

More affordable housing in rural Scotland

Scottish social housing remains too costly, particularly in rural areas with limited public transport infrastructure. Yousaf proposes investing more in affordable, socially owned housing and connecting them with publicly financed bus routes. Recent architectural designs for low-energy homes could be a starting point for renovation efforts. Funding may come from the National Investment Bank’s expansion.

Speed up Scotland’s land reform

Over 500 people mostly own more than half of the privately owned land in Scotland. The vast estates go largely undeveloped and are used as play spaces for the ultra-rich or are traded as financial products. Despite land reforms targeted at community ownership, the government is not doing enough to redistribute it. A more proactive approach would be helpful.

Reintroduce wolves and ban driven grouse shooting

Sheep farming and overgrazing by deer herds have devastated Scotland’s landscape. It is time for wolves to return since reintroduction could transform the Cairngorms. They would reduce red deer numbers but not those of Roe deer, for which lynx are required. Additionally, grouse hunting should be banned on Scotland’s moorlands since it is environmentally destructive.

Oil and renewables

Most oil workers support Scotland’s ‘just transition’ away from oil and into renewables. They propose an energy excess profits tax, a sovereign wealth fund, and public ownership of the industry. Rig decommissioning costs can be borne by polluting companies, and there must be a minimum wage for migrant workers.

Use data more responsibly

In our data-driven world, we must ensure that this potentially life-saving tool is managed democratically as a common resource. A data cooperative controlled by the Scottish government can decide how it is used for our benefit while preventing the wealth from being captured by surveillance capitalists.

Revolutionize education

The Scottish government has implemented an innovative education plan called Curriculum for Excellence designed to foster lifelong learning, critical thinking, and creativity. Scotland would benefit from more divestment of rote learning, particularly when the internet renders it increasingly redundant.


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