Humza Yousaf has said he has never been comfortable with the word “national” in the Scottish National Party.
The First Minister said there was a risk that the word could be misinterpreted due to its negative connotations.
The SNP leader was asked about the idea of being a “nationalist” in Scotland and in the wider world.
Nationalism is often defined as a political ideology which puts the interests of a particular nation first, often to the exclusion of others.
But it can also mean support for political independence for a nation or a people.
During an interview with the BBC podcast Political Thinking with Nick Robinson, the journalist said nationalism is seen in some parts of the globe as “hostile to others and aggressive”.
The interviewer pointed to Pakistan, where Yousaf’s dad is from, and India where he described nationalism there as “destructive and dangerous”.
Yousaf said he would not make comparisons with partition in India and Pakistan and “what is happening here in Scotland”.
The First Minister added: “I’ve never really been comfortable with the fact we have national in our party’s name.
“Not because the founding members of the SNP had any far-right inclination, they certainly didn’t, or any nationalist inclination the way you expressed there but because it can be misinterpreted.
“But we are the Scottish National Party, we have a very strong brand, a strong identity.
“But we’ve worked really hard to make it really clear, and I think it’s understood, that we are a civic national party, we are a party that believes it doesn’t matter really where you come from but where we are going together.
“And there’s no doubt about our politics being rooted in the left and centre-left of political discourse.”
‘Police investigation finances clearly affected how public views SNP’
Elsewhere in the interview, Yousaf said the police investigation into SNP finances had “clearly” affected the public perception of his party.
He said the inquiry has been “one of the most difficult times” for the SNP and that he must work hard to rebuild trust.
Former first minister Nicola Sturgeon, her husband and former SNP chief executive Peter Murrell and then treasurer Colin Beattie were arrested last year as part of the police investigation.
All were released without charge pending further investigation.
The arrests came as part of Police Scotland’s investigation into what happened to around £600,000 raised by the party for independence campaigning.
The SNP leader said: “The police investigation has been one of the most difficult times for the party.
“There’s no ifs or buts or maybes about it. There has clearly been an impact in terms of how we were perceived by the public and issues of trust, and I’ve got to work hard, as I hope I have been doing over the last ten months.
“I’ve got to work hard to make sure that people know, whatever the outcome of that police investigation is, that the SNP is a party that they can trust.
“It’s been difficult, no doubt, for those involved. But difficult for us as a party and it’s certainly been a challenge for me in my first ten months.”
‘In-laws trapped in Gaza was the lowest point of my life’
Yousaf also spoke of the weeks that his parents-in-law were trapped in Gaza after the conflict broke out in October last year.
They became trapped in the territory at the outbreak of hostilities following a trip to visit their relatives there.
Elizabeth and Maged El-Nakla, from Dundee, were eventually able to leave Gaza through the Rafah crossing.
He told the podcast: “The four weeks that my mother-in-law and father-in-law were in Gaza are probably the lowest points of my life and of Nadia’s life, they were really difficult four weeks, precisely because day by day and night by night, we did not know if they were going to live or not.”
Yousaf also said he has never really been comfortable with the fact that the Scottish National Party has the word “national” in its name because it can be misinterpreted.
He said the party has worked hard to make it clear that it is a “civic national party” that believes it does not matter really where you come from.
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