WHEN Muzaffar Yousaf joined the SNP just over 50 years ago, he never dreamed he would have a son who would become leader of the party – and First Minister of Scotland.

“All I thought about was getting independence,” he told the Sunday National. “I felt we were not getting our fair share from the English Government and that we were considered to be second-class citizens rather than proper citizens of the United Kingdom, so that was the reason I was motivated to join.”

However, as an immigrant to Scotland, he faced criticism for joining the party.

“I was asked how I could be a nationalist and I was told I could be Labour or Tory but I could not be a nationalist as that was for people born in this country and I was not born in this country,” said Muzaffar.

The National: The Pollokshields branch of the party with Angus McIntosh, Muzaffar and ZahidaThe Pollokshields branch of the party with Angus McIntosh, Muzaffar and Zahida (Image: Muzaffar Yousaf)

By the time he joined in 1972 at the age of 18, he had been living in Scotland for eight years, having moved with his parents in 1964. His father, Muhammad Yousaf, from Mian Chan­nu, a town in the Khanewal district of Punjab province, had moved to Kuwait for em­ployment in 1955 and then settled in Scotland, taking work at the Singer sewing machine factory in Clydebank.

While Muhammad was not particularly interested in politics, Muzaffar and his sister Zahida were and both joined the Pollokshields branch of the SNP. They were pictured in the Evening Times in 1979 supporting Angus McIntosh who was standing for election to the city council.

At the time the SNP were a minority party but Muzaffar has remained committed to the cause throughout its troughs and peaks. At one point he was even asked to change allegiance by Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh who, before she joined the SNP and then defected to Alba, was a Tory and stood for election to the Scottish Parliament in 1999.

“She asked me why I was a member of a losing party,” Muzaffar remembered.

READ MORE: SNP division after Humza Yousaf election ‘overestimated’, expert says

He continued to stick with the party and encouraged his three children to join too. Humza, who was born in 1985, joined when he was at Glasgow University studying politics. Speeches by then-party leader Alex Salmond and anti-war activist Rose Gentle against the illegal Iraq War convinced him that independence was the only way for Scotland to stay clear of it.

At the time Muzaffar also thought Salmond was “doing a good job” and “might achieve something” so he was pleased Humza had joined the party but never thought he might become its leader.

The National:

The National:

Now he and his wife, Shaaista Bhutta, could not be more proud.

“I’m glad as he does work hard and he deserves it,” said Muzaffar. “It is a big responsibility and my only wish is that he does much better than people expect him to do and brings on board more members to the SNP. I think he will be good for the job.”

Not only is Humza Yousaf the first person of colour to become First Minister but he is also the first Muslim to lead any country in Western Europe.

His father thinks that is good news for the minority populations in Scotland.

The National: Muzaffar and Muhammad’s home in PakistanMuzaffar and Muhammad’s home in Pakistan (Image: Muzaffar Yousaf)

“It is a good thing in the sense that it will encourage more minority people to come into the SNP,” he said. “I think they will be able to see a future for them with the party.”

Muzaffar, who is an accountant, said he was already getting phone calls from people of colour saying Humza would be a role model for their children.

“They are saying this is good for us, for our future,” said Muzaffar. “They are saying they can look at him and encourage their children and their children will look at him and think that if he can do it they can do it too – not necessarily in politics but in other fields as well. It’s very good news.”