IS Humza Yousaf already making plans for his career when he leaves politics? I only ask because of a throwaway remark by the First Minister on a political podcast in which he was asked what he’d be doing were he not a professional politician. 

Mr Yousaf, whose love for Celtic FC is widely known in the world of politics, said that “other than being chairman of Celtic Football Club, which is of course what I would be doing if I wasn’t in politics”, he would probably be involved in the legal profession.   

Like many other Celtic supporters, I’m delighted that the chap who occupies the most powerful job in the country is an out and out “Timaloy”, yet this is laced with a degree of alarm. 

Even the First Minister’s most loyal acolytes have been dismayed that, almost a year after taking office, he has failed to step out of the shadow cast by his predecessor Nicola Sturgeon. 

This was confirmed by his Cabinet reshuffle last week in which he seemed to have been inspired by the example set by Ms Sturgeon when handing out promotions: only promote the mediocre and the moderate – that way, you’ll never be challenged.

Thus, the prospect of Mr Yousaf running the show at Parkhead causes a chill. Would he insist on Hoopy the Huddle Hound, Celtic’s beloved but grievously out-of-condition club mascot, being appointed to a senior coaching role? 

Would all players and staff be required to get themselves a pair of pronouns so that even if they’re s**** at football they can still be disciples of a higher purpose? Would the brilliant Celtic women’s team remain a women’s team for much longer?  

Will Celtic supporters be told each year that the “fight for Champions League glory starts today” and that if only the English Premiership was forced to give us more of their riches we’d soon be spanking Real Madrid and Manchester City?

Would we be taking on Dynamo Kyiv and Shakhtar Donetsk youth players to stand in “solidarity with the hard-pressed Ukrainian people”?  

As attendances plummeted in the wake of all the virtue signalling – just like the SNP’s dwindling membership list – would we get the communications chief to make like Chemical Ali and pretend that we’re still knocking it out of the park? And who would be footing the bill on the Amazon gold cards for senior staff? 

Other than these slight concerns, I’m sure Mr Yousaf would be a fine ambassador for the Hoops. 

Lucrative tenure
I SEND my best wishes this week to Kezia Dugdale as she steps down from her position as director of the John Smith Centre at Glasgow University.

The Herald:

Ms Dugdale has served this august facility with distinction for the last five years and even became a professor during her tenure. 

So far as I can make out, the JSC exists to fast-track a gilded group of young people into professional politics and the lucrative policy advisory and lobbying sectors. 

All that seems to be required is that you be kind about everything and everyone, and avoid taking any principled position on anything and get your suits from Matalan and your duffel bags from North Face. 

Ms Dugdale’s own political career is the absolute embodiment of what the John Smith Foundation can secure: rising without trace; achieving very little; switching political allegiances when expedient; and attending the right leadership courses. 

Ms Dugdale, former leader of the Labour Party in Scotland, recently indicated that she’s switched horses to the SNP. This is a good move for someone who’s about to seek new challenges in civic Scotland’s platinum-card salons.  

Power to its people
TO the eternal credit of the John Smith Centre, it doesn’t try to disguise what’s going on here. Basically, we’re talking about a facility which can help you access power if you’re deemed to be of the right sort. 

On its website are details of its “Power Hour” series which “seeks to examine aspects of power in politics and public life in the UK and beyond”.

“From the role of special advisers to opposition backbench MPs, to government ministers and think-tank directors, we spend 60 minutes with key decision-makers looking at their early careers, the big issues they’ve grappled with, and their hopes and fears for the future.” 

The JSC even has a unique arrangement with the Scottish Parliament which grants its students access to paid internships with MSPs. 

Cross-party consensus
THE John Smith Centre hasn’t been operational for very long, so I salute its astonishing success in securing such access for its young charges. 

It showcases ingenuity and a pleasing can-do attitude that doesn’t mess about if you want to access power very quickly. 

One of the JSC’s main funders is the Scottish Government, while an “in-kind” supporter is Charlotte Street Partners, the most influential political lobbying firm in Scotland. So, I suppose the means of securing an access-all-areas platinum card becomes a little easier with such powerful friends.

On its board are Ed Balls, former Labour UK shadow chancellor; Baroness Ruth Davidson, former leader of the Scottish Conservatives; and the SNP MP Alison Thewliss. 

It warms my arid old soul to know that the Scottish Government and its collaborators across all parties and in the lobbying sector can restrict access to those who won’t misbehave or make a nuisance of themselves.