Leadership hopeful Humza Yousaf is to tell SNP members the party “cannot afford to have a leader who pulls us off” a progressive path as voting in the contest to choose the next first minister opens on Monday.
Ballots are being sent out to SNP members to choose their party’s new leader, with Mr Yousaf, Kate Forbes and Ash Regan in the running to be Scotland’s sixth first minister.
Mr Yousaf, who currently serves as Health Secretary in Nicola Sturgeon’s administration, will at an event in Stirling tell party members the Yes movement was built on “inclusivity, equality and respect for everyone” and that the SNP “cannot afford to have a leader who pulls us off that progressive path”.
“I am the only candidate who is ready to stand up to Westminster power grabs and vetoes, and I’m the only candidate that will ensure we maintain our pro-independence majority agreement with the Greens to ensure Holyrood is strong and united in the face of future Tory attacks,” he is expected to tell members later alongside former SNP MSP Bruce Crawford.
Party members will be asked to rank the three candidates in order of preference, and if no single candidate secures more than 50% of votes on first preferences, the person in third place will be eliminated.
Their second preference votes will then be distributed among the two remaining candidates in order to find the winner.
Mr Yousaf will tell the event on Monday he is best placed to take the party forward.
“Today our hard-working SNP members and activists have the opportunity to elect a party leader and first minister who will champion their values by standing up to Westminster power grabs, advancing the rights of everyone in Scotland and building on a progressive policy agenda to deliver independence for Scotland,” he will tell members.
“As a proudly progressive political party, the SNP has won election after election, delivering for the people of Scotland with free education, free prescriptions, the Scottish Child Payment and protecting our beloved NHS from backdoor attempts at privatisation.
“Inclusivity, equality and respect for everyone were key pillars on which the Yes movement was built in the lead-up to 2014.
“As a party, we cannot afford to have a leader who pulls us off that progressive path that will deliver us the independence for Scotland that we crave.
“It is so important that any SNP leader and first minister stands up to Westminster attacks and attempts to undermine Scotland’s Parliament and its democratic will.
“As a government, the SNP cannot roll over and allow the Tories to trample over our democracy.”