Great Scot! It's Humza McYousaf

Humza Yousaf of Pak descent has been made the first minister of Scotland

When introduced to Samuel Johnson who had prejudices against Scotsmen, James Boswell said meekly, “Sir, I do indeed come from Scotland, but I cannot help it.” Replied Johnson, “That, sir, I find, is what many of your countrymen cannot help.” Scotland is a land with prospects, protested Boswell. The noblest prospect for a Scotsman is the high road to England, retorted Johnson. In his dictionary, Johnson defined oats as “a grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people”.

The spats between the legendary lexicographer and his bosom friend and biographer speak of the ties between England and Scotland. The two peoples revel in their prejudices, yet can’t live without each other. Sherlock Holmes, England’s greatest fictional detective, was created by Scotsman A.C. Doyle. England’s greatest fictional spy was brought into reel life by the most dashing Scotsman, Sean Connery. Neither would admit it, but their mutual “love swells like the Solway, but ebbs like its tide.” Damn or drown, Lochinvar!

The old Anglo-Scottish rivalry has now taken an Indo-Pakistan twist. Many in India toasted with scotch, thinking an India story was being made in London when Rishi Sunak, who swears by the Gita and worships the cow, kissed the king’s hand. Now Humza Yousaf of Pak descent, who wore a sherwani and swore in Urdu when he became a member of the Scottish Parliament in 2016, has been made the first minister of Scotland. By Robert Bruce and his spider, that calls for a toast with English gin!

WhatsApp smart Alecs—shall we say McAlecs?—are forwarding the 2016 video of Yousaf taking the oath in Urdu, claiming it to be of his swearing in as first minister. You don’t need a Sherlock Holmes to call the bluff. One, neither the prime minister of Britain nor the first minister of Scotland swear themselves in; the former kisses the monarch’s hand, the latter nods when the oath is read out to him. Two, in the video, he was swearing allegiance to the Queen. Crivvens! The Queen is dead; long live the king.

Illustration: Job P.K. Illustration: Job P.K.

Therein lies another irony. Yousaf has sworn loyalty to the crown of England, but he is leading a party that has sworn to separate Scotland five centuries after the English and Scottish crowns were conjoined under James I, and four centuries after the countries merged under the Act of Union. Does that make James the last ‘king of Scotland’? Great Scot, no! That was Idi Amin, the Ugandan tyrant who gave himself the title.

Yousaf and his Scots, who think they are a different people, are cut up with the English for everything from the latter’s conceit to cutting welfare funds. Many have been seeking separation, especially after the Brits exited the EU lock, ale stock, beer barrel, England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. But the separatists never got majority in a referendum. Having burnt their fingers and fish-and-chips in Brexit, the English now say, even if the majority of Scots say secede, they would block the way with law.

Brexit, if you ask me, was one moment when Westminster mistook public sentiment for public opinion, as Benjamin Disraeli had warned. Just because a few yokels in Cornwall or Cumbria didn’t like guys in Brussels telling them how to roast their beef, they voted to exit EU.

Now a few dumbos in Dundee and Dunfermline are seeking secession for Scotland. What if the Welsh say, they too want to ‘lleave’? Trifurcation of territory would end in tragedy. Read King Lear.

Bless my soul! Didn’t the Bard write Lear just around the time the two crowns were conjoined under the Stuarts?