First minister Humza Yousaf was interviewed as part of the Edinburgh fringe festival on Friday.
During his chat with LBC presenter Iain Dale, there were several interruptions from protestors in the audience, including one who claimed Yousaf previously made a speech that was “the most bigoted thing Scotland has ever heard”.
Claims that Yousaf made a racist, anti-white speech have been regularly repeated on social media.
Ferret Fact Service looked at the evidence and found this False.
The event in Edinburgh was one of a series of interviews Iain Dale is doing throughout the fringe with political figures including Yousaf, former first minister Nicola Sturgeon, Conservative minister Penny Mourdant and former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
During the event, the first minister’s interview was interrupted by a heckler, who made reference to a comment made by Yousaf on a podcast where he told people to say “f*** you” to anyone who discriminated against them.
The heckler then referenced a speech made by Yousaf in the Scottish Parliament in 2020, and argued that it was in fact “bigoted”.
What did Yousaf’s speech say?
The speech made by Yousaf, who was then the justice secretary, was part of a debate on a motion to show solidarity with anti-racism activism in the wake of the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis in May 2020.
In a lengthy speech, he referenced racism that he had experienced since being elected to the Scottish Parliament, and then went on to examine structural racism in Scotland.
He said: “Some people have been surprised or taken aback by my mention on my social media that at 99 per cent of the meetings that I go to, I am the only non-white person in the room.
“Why are we so surprised when the most senior positions in Scotland are filled almost exclusively by people who are white? Take my portfolio, for example. The Lord President? White, the Lord Justice Clerk? White, every High Court judge? White, the Lord Advocate? White, the Solicitor General? White, the chief constable? White, every deputy chief constable? White, every assistant chief constable? White, the head of the Law Society? White, the head of the Faculty of Advocates? White and every prison governor? White.
“That is not the case only in justice. The chief medical officer? White, the chief nursing officer? White, the chief veterinary officer? White, the chief social work adviser? White, almost every trade union in the country, headed by people who are white people. In the Scottish Government every director general is white. Every chair of every public body is white. That is not good enough.”
This section of the speech was in reference to underrepresentation of people from an ethnic minority in Scotland’s powerful positions.
He continues to say: “I do not doubt that across the private sector, black and minority ethnic people are similarly underrepresented at senior levels. That is a collective failure that includes every single one of us. I hope that we are sitting uncomfortably, because those should be uncomfortable truths for us all.”
Nowhere in the speech does he say there are too many white people in Scotland, or that white people shouldn’t be allowed to take top jobs. His speech was made in the weeks after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May 2020 – and was aimed at highlighting the structural racial inequalities which are still existent in modern Scottish society.
He ended the speech by recounting the final words said by George Floyd as he died, then said: “I hope that we are all angry. That should be our overriding emotion when we are confronted with racism. I hope that every single one of us takes that anger and uses it to recommit ourselves as anti-racist. Let us be judged by our deeds, Presiding Officer—by our deeds, and not just our words.”
Ferret Fact Service verdict: False
Humza Yousaf’s speech is not bigoted or anti-white, as has been suggested by posts on social media. The clipped section of the speech which has been shared online is part of a wider statement he made in the Scottish Parliament in 2020 about structural racism and inequality in Scotland.
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Photo credit: Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament