I HAVE made no secret of my support for Humza Yousaf to be the next SNP leader and first minister of Scotland.

I have also been quite candid, as I always am, as to the reasons why. I want to go into a bit more detail on this reasoning and discuss the journey I have had with this contest so far, to give insight into the why and for what purpose.

I have wanted to concentrate on the positive campaign for Humza, and not distract from his own qualities by focusing on a comparison with others. I feel that now is the time to discuss my personal opinion on some of the subjects covered so far, so I can give that more rounded insight to my internalised reasoning to this point.

I would like to address the accusations of attacks on faith first. I was in a very high-demand religion for many years before I left and went on another journey regarding my faith and life purpose. I know that the people within faith groups and religions vary in regard to how much or how little their faith dictates anything in their personal lives.

I do not think that anyone should be judged by their personal faith-based beliefs, I believe it’s how they intend to use them to affect our society and others that we should be mindful of.

It’s not belief we should scrutinise, it’s entirely behaviour. I condemn all personal attacks on our candidates for their respective faiths. Our scrutiny should be on their political actions and values alone, that’s what concerns us.

I was quite concerned at the outset when equal marriage was up for discussion – it was demoralising for a huge population in Scotland to have this raked over.

When we do not realise the equality of everyone, we not only ostracise those we would have restricted rights from but also everyone who loves and supports them, which in 2023 is the vast majority of Scottish society.

All candidates have said they will support LGBT rights – but to be a leader for all, you also need to commit to advancing those rights further, and Humza is the only candidate to give an unwavering commitment, without compromise, to the whole LGBT community, with previous actions to back them up in my opinion.

We are a progressive nation, and to compromise on these values will not cut it at the ballot box, or essentially with our membership overall. Humza clearly stated he knows the need for equality as a minority person – “when they come for one of us, they come for us all”; he gets it.

He stated that we shouldn’t just be tolerated but celebrated!

When it comes to abortion rights, just upholding the status quo isn’t good enough – women’s rights and bodily autonomy shouldn’t be a compromise or balancing act with opposing views, we need only look to the US to see the harm to women from the attack on their right to abortion healthcare.

Buffer zones to protect women visiting clinics are needed, and legislation should not be a compromise with those opposed to abortion – that is a red line for me. I welcome Humza’s commitment to this and with his health brief he will be well placed to form legislation with his commitment to seek further progress on abortion rights.

The idea of working across grassroots groups and with other parties is a great one. Firmly Upholding the Bute House Agreement with the Greens and securing the super majority of independence-supporting parties already in the Scottish Parliament is essential to our progress to independence and a socially just Scotland.

I have listened not only to Humza but others with vast experience in navigating a minority government, and the compromise with opposition parties is a long and lengthy one. I don’t want to work with the Tories on a budget, not at all – anyone suggesting such should look at the cost of living crisis we are in right now.

To suggest we work with groups and parties who have been openly hostile to myself and other colleagues is not an enticing option.

Humza is the only leadership candidate committing to a strong political Scottish Government position, anything else weakens us and allows for our opposition to play games with our hard-won devolution and cuts at the heart of the compassionate governance our constituents need.

Humza’s vision for how we gain an independence vote – and not only win it but thrive in a Scotland where democracy, fairness and justice are intrinsic – is by far the most credible and reasonable of the three leadership candidates.

His focus on grassroots activism comes from his background, which is at his core – he not only appreciates the efforts of our activists, he wants to lead that by being the “First Activist”. This is clear in his commitment to committing to pay for regional organisers.

A true leader will lead by example and will lead by embracing the values we have built on for years.

They will need to nurture our SNP family, not allow the opposition in to destabilise it.

We have a winning formula that’s in no doubt, so to ebb towards change to suit No voters is not a way to get them onside – that’s compromising values and taking for granted the decades of hard work and success behind us.

We don’t have to change, we are heading in the right direction – it’s the pace we need to step up.

Humza recognises this and dismisses that gradualist approach – but he has also stated he will listen to all options on the table.

To assume the UK Government will accept our democracy is foolish.

We need a groundswell; we need a positive vision; we need a rousing campaign with a Scottish first minister who does not and will not ever compromise on the democracy and values of our people and our country.

One who will fight against power grabs and not weaken our democracy due to personal or populist views.

Unwavering and a true SNP son is why I have just voted for Humza!