In a historic move, Humza Yousaf has been appointed as the First Minister of Scotland by Rishi Sunak. This appointment is significant for several reasons - it marks the first time that a person of Pakistani descent will be leading Scotland, and it comes at a time when religion has played an unusual role in Scottish politics.
As news of his appointment broke out, South Asian family WhatsApp groups were abuzz with memes asking whether the British Indian Prime Minister and Scottish Pakistani First Minister would be negotiating the partition of Britain. While these might have been light-hearted jokes, they highlight an important point about diversity in leadership.
The recent Scottish leadership election was marked by attention paid to religion rather than ethnicity or race. In contrast, there was little attention paid to Rishi's Hindu faith during his own election campaign. The census data shows that all faiths are now minority faiths in Britain, including Christianity. Therefore we should strive towards treating followers of all religions equally and equitably.
Having ethnic minority national leadership sets a higher bar for minorities being seen as fully part of the national “us” and equally capable of representing everyone. This surge in British Asian leadership comes before Britain has seen a black party leader but partly reflects demographics and may reflect contrasting group reputations with too many people.
This step towards greater representation is crucial to ensuring that every citizen feels included regardless of their background or beliefs. Humza Yousaf's appointment signals progress towards creating a more diverse society where everyone can feel represented at every level – from local councils to Parliament itself.