Scotland gets a Muslim leader in a moment of extraordinary change for British politics


Humza Yousaf’s appointment as first minister of Scotland is a historic moment for the UK. It means that, for the first time in history, the country has a Hindu prime minister in Westminster (Rishi Sunak) and a Muslim first minister in Scotland. In his victory speech, Yousaf said: We should all take pride in the fact that today we have sent a clear message, that your colour of skin, your faith, is not a barrier to leading the country we all call home.
On the face of it, these two men, whose families came to the UK as immigrants looking for a better life, embody the dream that, through hard work, immigrants and their children can make it to the top of society.Similar stories are playing out elsewhere at the top level of British politics, too. Scotland’s main opposition party Labour is led by Anas Sawar, a man who is also of Pakistani Muslim heritage, as is Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London. The Westminster cabinet also has unprecedented ethnic diversity. Many of these politicians are the children and grandchildren of immigrants who came to the UK in the 1950s and 1960s, economic migrants from former colonies like India, Pakistan and the nations of east Africa and the Caribbean, who came with little money and limited English language.
This first wave of postcolonial migrants often worked in the great British industries, in factories and in mills, settling in large town and cities.