Sunday 14 January 2024

This stinks worse than rotting fish


Humza Yousaf’s wife Nadia El-Nakla is Scottish. She was born and brought up in Dundee. But unlike most Scots she has family living in Gaza. Her parents chose to ignore Foreign Office advice about visiting Gaza and ended up in a warzone after the 7th October Hamas attack on Israel. That was unfortunate and naturally Humza Yousaf and his wife were concerned about their safety. But it is important that we distinguish between a politician’s political role and his personal life. Humza Yousaf is First Minister of Scotland. His wife is a Dundee SNP councillor. The Scottish Government has no role in foreign affairs.

It must be tempting if you are a well-known politician to try to use that role to gain personal advantage for yourself, your friends and your family. It would be understandably human to use connections available to you because you are First Minister to deal with a personal private issue rather than use the means available to everyone else. But it would nevertheless be a form of corruption to do so.

When El-Nakla’s family were trapped in Gaza Humza Yousaf contacted the British government and Foreign Office to expedite their rescue from Gaza, but he didn’t do so as a private citizen like the rest of us would have done if our family were trapped in Gaza, he did so as First Minister of Scotland. But it has nothing whatsoever to do with that role. Humza Yousaf’s wife’s family deserved no more extra special help than any other British citizens trapped in Gaza just because SNP members had elected him leader of their party.

In time El-Nakla’s parents were able to leave Gaza with the help of the British government. I don’t recall any thanks from either Humza Yousaf or Nadia El-Nakla nor indeed from her parents.

Next, we discover that Nadia El-Nakla went to Turkey in November to attend an international summit calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

It seemed rather odd that at the time that she should do so. It cannot be often that a Dundee councillor meets the First Lady of Turkey and other important figures. Indeed, it is rather surprising that they knew of her existence.

She is said to have attended in a personal capacity. One assumes therefore that she paid for the trip out of her own money and didn’t claim expenses for her iPad. But the truth is that El-Nakla would have been nowhere near this meeting if she had not been married to Humza Yousaf.

Next, we discover that Humza Yousaf has a meeting with Recep Erdoğan the president of Turkey at the COP28 meeting in December. Yousaf did so without permission from the British government and without Foreign Office staff being present as is required.

The reason for this is that the First Minister has no role in foreign affairs, which is reserved to the British government. The UK cannot have two foreign policies one directed from London and the other from Edinburgh. Yousaf is not the leader of a nation state and therefore Scotland has no international role at all. El-Nakla is no more the wife of an international politician than the leader’s wife of a province in Turkey, who doubtless does not get to meet Erdoğan’s wife.

But it now is beginning to become clear that Yousaf and El-Nakla have been using his position as First Minister for personal private reasons. First Scotland gives £750,000 in aid to Gaza and shortly afterwards El-Nakla’s parents get to leave Gaza. Then we discover perhaps why El-Nakla went to Turkey to meet Erdoğan’s wife and why later Humza Yousaf was so desperate that no one would be present at his meeting with Erdoğan.

El-Nakla has just admitted that the Turkish government helped her family in Gaza to move to Turkey. It’s an amazing coincidence. Such generosity on the part of President Erdoğan. What did he get in return?

I have no idea what happened when El-Nakla met Erdoğan’s wife, nor do I know what Yousaf talked to President Erdoğan about. One of the reasons I don’t know is that he went to a lot of trouble to make sure that Foreign Office officials were not present, but I do know this, it is not the role of the First Minister of Scotland let alone a Dundee councillor to have international meetings so that non-UK citizens can move from Gaza to Turkey.

El-Nakla now wants her Gazan family to come to the UK. She points out that Ukrainian refugees are living near her, why can’t her Gazan family not also come here as refugees?

Well, if El-Nakla wants Gazans in general rather than her family in particular to escape Gaza why doesn’t she ask Egypt to open the border. Perhaps she could fly to Egypt to have a meeting with the wife of President el-Sisi. Humza Yousaf could then attend an environment meeting somewhere where he happens to meet el-Sisi and the border between Gaza and Egypt could be opened.

But there is a problem here Egypt does not want to open its border to Gaza and nowhere else in the Arab world wants to take refugees from Gaza and indeed when Israeli officials suggest resettling Gazans elsewhere, they are condemned by the whole world including I imagine El-Nakla and Humza Yousaf.

So, we have a situation where if Israel suggests resettling Gazan refugees in Africa that’s disgusting, but it’s OK for as many Gazans as El-Nakla can find to settle in Scotland. What’s the difference?

Is El-Nakla a Zionist? Let’s make all the Gazans refugees and it will make room for Jewish settlers to take their place.

It is becoming clear to me that Humza Yousaf and his wife have their own private agenda that is quite different from the role of First Minister of Scotland and different indeed from the aims of the SNP.

It is quite understandable that they should be concerned for their relatives, but that is a private matter for them. It has nothing to do with Scottish politics.

Each British citizen can sponsor the visit of a friend or a relative who is not a British citizen. If we follow the rules these people will probably get a visa, but we cannot expect that all of our relatives can come to the UK to live, and we cannot expect that refugee status is given to our relatives in preference to everyone else who might deserve that status.

If I become Prime Minister and use that office to gain personal advantage whether financial or to gain favours for my friends or family, it would be considered corrupt. If I used public money to further my own private interests it would also be considered to be corrupt.

There is one rule for Humza Yousaf and family and another for everyone else.

This stinks much worse than the rotting fish did.

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