HUMZA Yousaf has unveiled his first cabinet, with a few old hands and a slew of new faces.

The First Minister said he wanted a government that looked "as much as possible like the people we represent."

He added: "As well as being the first ever First Minister from a minority ethnic background, I am pleased that a record number of women have agreed to serve, as well as a significant blend of younger and more experienced members.

"That said, every single appointment has been made on merit."


Angela Constance - Justice and Home Affairs

The Herald:

At 52, Ms Constance is one of the elder stateswomen of the new cabinet. She’s been an MSP since 2007 and has probably been in and out of government more than anyone else in Holyrood.

She first entered Cabinet in 2014, as the minister for training, youth and women’s employment, before being promoted to the education brief in Nicola Sturgeon’s first cabinet.

However, eighteen months later she was demoted before being punted to the backbenches in 2018. Ms Sturgeon brought her back into government in 2020 as minister for drugs policy. 


Jenny Gilruth - Education and Skills

The Herald:

One of the five cabinet members under 40, the Mid-Fife and Glenrothes MSP’s promotion sees her move from one of the hardest jobs in government to one of the toughest.

As transport minister, she came in for constant pelters over ferries and the un-dualled A90.

Education and closing the attainment gap was Nicola Sturgeon’s defining mission. It might not be Humza Yousaf’s but it’s still going to be a priority. The biggest challenge ahead could be the significant reforms to the SQA.

Also, she's probably the first Cabinet minister to be married to a former leader of the opposition. 


Mairi Gougeon - Rural Affairs, Land Reform and Islands

The Herald:

The Angus North and Mearns MSP keeps the Rural Affairs brief she’s held since 2021.

It's a bit awkward in that we know she wasn’t Humza Yousaf’s first choice.

Kate Forbes was offered the post on Monday but turned it down. What would have happened to Ms Gougeon if she hadn’t?

Presumably, she’d still have been in the cabinet, the 37-year-old is widely liked and seen as competent.


Neil Gray - Wellbeing Economy, Fair Work and Energy

The Herald:

We heard a lot about the wellbeing economy during the leadership campaign.

The Scottish Government defines it as “an economic system operating within safe environmental limits, that serves the collective wellbeing of current and future generations first and foremost.”

Delivering it falls to 37-year-old Neil Gray. He was Mr Yousaf’s campaign manager during the battle for Bute House. Though he's only been an MSP since 2021, he served as an MP for six years prior. 


Màiri McAllan – Net Zero and Just TransitionThe Herald: At just 30, Màiri McAllan is Scotland’s second youngest Cabinet Secretary (Kate Forbes was 29 when she took over the Finance brief).

She was first elected in 2021, and was promoted quickly, becoming Minister for Environment, Biodiversity and Land Reform 13 days later.

Before entering Holyrood she worked for Nicola Sturgeon as a special advisor and as a lawyer, specialising in energy and natural resources.

It’s worth noting that in the last cabinet Michael Matheson was Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport but under Mr Yousaf, the energy and net zero briefs have been split up. Meanwhile, transport's no longer in any cabinet minister's job title. 


Michael Matheson – NHS Recovery, Health and Social Care

The Herald:

Another veteran. He is one of the few remaining 99ers in Holyrood. The 52-year-old first entered government in 2011 as Minister for Public Health.

He’s covered the Justice brief and transport and energy, but now he’s probably got the hardest job in government, one that Humza Yousaf himself struggled with.

Note the change in job title, it now comes with added “NHS Recovery”. The Tories suggested this was Mr Yousaf recognising “his own abject failure as health secretary.”

Angus Robertson - Constitution, External Affairs and Culture

The Herald:

Though only elected to Holyrood in 2021, the Edinburgh Central MSP spent 16 years in Westminster, leading the SNP group between 2007 and 2017.

The 53-year-old probably had the quickest promotion of any MSP in the history of devolution, becoming a Cabinet Secretary weeks after taking his seat.

He keeps the fairly hefty portfolio, which takes in independence, Brexit and the culture brief.

He was one of the early favourites to replace Nicola Sturgeon though ruled himself out, saying he wanted to concentrate on being "first dad" rather than first minister. 

Shona Robison - Finance portfolio, including responsibility for the Scottish Budget

The Herald:

The only other 99er in the Cabinet. Shona Robison will take on the finance brief as well as being Humza Yousaf’s deputy.

She was a key player in his campaign to be SNP leader, and there was little surprise when she became the John to his Nicola.

However, her time in government has not always gone smoothly. Nicola Sturgeon made her Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, but she resigned in 2018 amid a growing clamour for her to quit.

The 57-year-old Robison was brought back in 2021, as the Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government where she was responsible for pushing through the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill.

Shirley Anne-Somerville - Secretary for Social Justice

The former education secretary now takes on Shona Robison’s old brief, which includes the Gender Recognition Reform Bill. If the Scottish Government chooses not to challenge the Section 35, or loses any court battle, the 49-year-old could end up having to find some way of getting the law through Holyrood. She was first elected to Holyrood in 2007, though lost her seat in 2011, but came back in 2016.


Jamie Hepburn - Minister for Independence

The Herald: Jamie Hepburn MSP

The higher education minister becomes the Scottish Government's first Minister for Independence.

The new role was first mooted by Humza Yousaf after Kate Forbes suggested during the leadership contest that the responsibility for building the prospectus for independence be taken away from the civil service. Mr Yousaf said: "Why on Earth would you not use the machinery of government to fund the cause?”

He then said he would be "quite keen to have a Cabinet Secretary not just for the constitution – call it for advancing independence and the constitution.”

However, Mr Hepburn will not sit in Cabinet, and Angus Robertson keeps the Constitution in his title. It's understood, however, that the 43-year-old will answer directly to the First Minister.