Dull Humza Yousaf can thank protesters for saving his first FMQs

In 2004, Tony Blair was pelted with purple paint by Fathers for Justice while speaking in the House of Commons. His lilac dusting came despite parliament installing a £600,000 security screen just a few months earlier. 18 years on, Scotland’s dislike of all things Westminster means debate interruptions are now more nailed on than the SNP’s failure to achieve independence. 

Douglas Ross interrupted by Holyrood protestors

In December, the entire public gallery was cleared out over two women’s rights hecklers. Two days later, MSPs came face-to-crotch with another woman’s rights protestor, flashing a merkin and shouting “you terrible, terrible people”. 

In January, yet another FMQs session was shut down over shouting about North Sea Oil. Today, at Humza Yousaf’s first question session as First Minister, the Q&A was suspended six times within 20 minutes. 

Quite frankly, it was a relief. 

What we did hear from Mr Yousaf was far from the blockbuster outing the SNP would have been hoping for. 

His first response to Douglas Ross, who asked about his incredibly weak first cabinet, saw the new First Minister say he is “delighted… to have appointed the Cabinet with the most number of women in it in the history of devolution”. 

He paused for a second, appearing to expect table banging and back-slapping. Instead, his backbenchers managed to muster pious nods. 

Presumably, his MSPs were just confused to hear Humza Yousaf definitively labelling anyone as a woman – his new Deputy First Minister Shona Robison wouldn’t have stood for that while serving as minister for Social Justice. 

Mr Yousaf went on to claim he had assembled a cabinet “that is focussed on the priorities of the Scottish people”. 

That’s true, provided you’re a Scot who believes having a minister dedicated to repeatedly asking Rishi Sunak for independence – only to be told ‘no’ – is more important than one looking after the country’s £4 billion tourism industry – a cabinet role scrapped yesterday.

The First Minister defended his reshuffle jobs, saying “we need independence now more than ever before”. Translated, that means “I personally need it now more than ever before”. 

Douglas Ross joked that he managed to get through the Holyrood interruptions without being caught muttering “f***s sake’ as he did in March, though was left begging for another heckling shutdown “just to stop that long rant from Humza Yousaf”. 

He wasn’t the only one. Thankfully, for anyone worried we may have to hear more from Humza Yousaf, Mr Ross’s prayers were immediately answered by another set of protestors and another shutdown of the session. 

The session came back a few minutes later, and as soon as Douglas Ross resumed his questioning, yet more heckles came drifting down from on high – another shutdown. 

After a couple of uninterrupted back-and-forths between the First Minister and his counterpart, it became blatantly obvious that Humza Yousaf has mistaken ‘passion’ for ‘anger’. 

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Photographers captured a shouting woman being dragged away by the police. 

Scrutiny of the photo suggests the woman in question wasn’t Nicola Sturgeon, desperate to get her job back after seeing Mr Yousaf squandering the SNP’s political capital. 

Though you wouldn’t have blamed her had she tried. 

Nicola Sturgeon stayed well away from the farce, as did John Swinney, Ash Regan and Kate Forbes. 

No doubt Mr Yousaf would have been praying for the protestors to leave so he could get into the swing of answering questions. 

It was clear from what we did see that limiting Mr Yousaf’s opportunity to speak was the greatest gift the protestors could have bestowed upon him. 

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