HUMZA Yousaf has admitted he bears some personal responsibility for the CalMac ferries fiasco while also pointing the finger of blame at some of his colleagues and leadership backers.

The would-be first minister said all of the Scottish Government's transport ministers and finance secretaries shared in the responsibility over the eight years of the scandal.

That includes three of Mr Yousaf's backers for the SNP leadership - deputy First Minister John Swinney, former transport minister Graeme Dey and the current minister Jenny Gilruth.

Mr Swinney revealed last week that the two ferries being built at Ferguson Marine on the Clyde had been held up another six months amid rising costs.

Ordered by the state ferry procurement body CMAL in October 2015, the vessels, known as hulls 801 and 802, were supposed to cost £97 million and be sailing in 2018.

The cost is now around £300m and the boats are due in late 2023 and 2024.

From the start, the contract was beset by disagreements between the yard and CMAL over design changes and money.

Ferguson Marine went broke and was nationalised in late 2019.

For more than half of the time between the order being placed and Ferguson's being taken into public ownership, Mr Yousaf was minister for transport and the islands.

He replaced Derek Mackay in May 2016 and stayed at transport until June 2018, when he was promoted to Justice Secretary. He is now Health Secretary.

While Mr Yousaf was transport minister, the delays and problems with the contract were well-known to the government, which made emergency loans to the yard to keep it afloat.

In November 2017, Mr Yousaf reported to Holyrood's rural economy and connectivity committee that he had "visited the shipyard now on a number of occasions and seen the impressive developments that are taking place alongside the construction of the ships".

He also said he had also been "in regular contact" with CMAL and Jim McColl, the engineering tycoon whose business had bought the yard in 2014.

Reporting a "disappointing" delay, Mr Yousaf wrote: "I can reassure the Committee that I will be working with CalMac to ensure that there is no reduction" in ferry services as a result.

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However the situation deteriorated, and in February 2018, Mr Yousaf's transport agency was warning that Ferguson's would be insolvent within weeks without more cash. Mr Yousaf also answered parliamentary questions about progress on the ferries.

In BBC Scotland's SNP leadership hustings last week, Mr Yousaf described the CalMac ferries scandal as "unacceptable" but said there had been a "collective responsibility" for it.

However collective responsibility, the convention that all ministers support government decisions, is automatic. 

Mr Yousaf did not mention that he had been transport minister while the problems that ultimately led to the yard going broke became entrenched.

Speaking to the Herald, Mr Yousaf was again asked what responsibility he took given his long stint as transport minister at a critical time.

He replied: "I think we all bear collective responsibility".

The Herald put it to him that collective responsibility was a "total cop out", as he was clearly closer to events than most other ministers. 

Asked again what responsibility he bore, he said: "I bear responsibility, much like others who are involved. 

"So you obviously had the finance secretary at the time [Mr Swinney]. His successor of course was involved as well [Mr Mackay].

"And of course, as you know, the current finance secretary [Kate Forbes] has also been involved, as have other transport ministers. 

"So those who have been transport ministers, who have been finance secretaries, of course, we all have a responsibility in that.

"Clearly the issue of 801 and 802 has not been the government's finest hour by any stretch, so we need to make sure we're delivering."

Asked if he was putting his hands up for the situation, he said: "Certainly I would do that, as transport secretary [sic].

"I'm sure those that were involved thereafter, particularly in the decisions around nationalising Ferguson's - which I absolutely agree with, it saved hundreds of jobs on the Clyde - you know, I think we all bear some responsibility, myself included."

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Scottish Tory chair Craig Hoy: "In belatedly accepting his own failings for the SNP's ferry fiasco, Humza Yousaf has also dragged in some of his key backers for the top job at the same time.

"They might well be raising their eyebrows at his answer, given they stuck their neck out for him and said he was the best candidate for First Minister.

"A whole host of SNP ministers- including his leadership rival Kate Forbes- are responsible for blowing hundreds of millions of taxpayers money and leaving islanders without lifeline ferries.

"His supporters just might have expected these lines to come from opposition politicians, rather than from the man they have backed to move into Bute House."

Ms Forbes and former minister Ash Regan are also vying to be SNP leader.