Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf has said that support for the SNP is “going from strength to strength”, despite the turmoil the party has faced in recent weeks.
But he said “I will never, ever be complacent”, with a general election likely next year, as he led a national campaigning day to mark one month of his leadership of the SNP.
Yousaf beat Kate Forbes and Ash Regan to the top job in March following Nicola Sturgeon’s resignation as first minister, but has had a tumultuous start to his time in charge.
The party’s former chief executive, Peter Murrell, and its then-treasurer, Colin Beattie, were arrested earlier this month by police investigating how more than £600,000 of donations earmarked for independence campaigning were spent.
Both men were released without charge pending further investigation.
Visiting the Just Bee Productions charity in Dundee, Yousaf told the PA news agency that support for the SNP remains strong.
He said: “I’ve just been on the doorsteps in Douglas here in Dundee and support for the SNP is incredible and support for independence strong as well.”
He admitted the SNP has had a “challenging” few weeks, but said: “Actually what’s important to people on the doorsteps has been the cost of living crisis, investing in our public services, growing the economy, and that’s the priorities of the Scottish Government.
“I’m really pleased, certainly here in Dundee, and I know right across the country, support for the SNP is not just holding up but going from strength to strength.”
Asked whether that will continue if there is a general election next year he said: “I’ll not be complacent about it, the only way to know your support is to make sure that the people’s priorities are the Government’s priorities and that’s what I’m focused on.
“I will never, ever be complacent, I’ll make sure we’re on the doorsteps speaking to as many people as we possibly can.
“I promised during the election contest that I wouldn’t just be the First Minister I’d be the first activist, and that’s why I’m delighted to be able to join activists in Dundee today.”
He was campaigning alongside local SNP council leader John Alexander, deputy first minister Shona Robison and MSP Joe FitzPatrick.
Yousaf said that he has not yet been in touch with Sturgeon, after saying earlier this week that he would “check in” on her, but said he is certain he will speak to her “in due course”.