Last month marked the first anniversary of Humza Yousaf becoming Scotland’s First Minister.

To nobody’s surprise, this anniversary came and went with very little fanfare, because the first year of the current First Minister’s premiership is hardly something the Scottish public would want to celebrate.

Over the last 17 years of SNP Government, we have become used to seeing bad news stories in just about every area of government, and on the basis of recent events, this trend is unlikely to change any time soon.

Take the controversy around VisitScotland’s visitor centres for just one example of this. We recently learnt that every one of VisitScotland’s iCentres, which provide important information and assistance to tourists, will be closing over the next two years.

Tourism has long been at the heart of the Scottish economy, and it is inexcusable to close off such an importance resource for visitors who don’t have access to information online – including the elderly or vulnerable – not least as local knowledge can also be truly invaluable.

The Scottish Government needs to consider their full impact before these closures go ahead; town centres and small tourism businesses have struggled enough in recent years, and the loss of iCentres would be the last thing they need.

If this news wasn’t bad enough, for another example of more difficulty created by this SNP Government, we need look no further than their recently introduced Hate Crime Act. This ludicrous Act may have come into force on the 1st April, but unfortunately it was no April fool.

Many people, including leading legal experts, are deeply concerned about the impact the Hate Crime Act will have on freedom of speech.

The Act could see many ordinary people finding themselves charged with crimes for simply speaking their mind. This could lead to people being too afraid to voice their own opinions, and carefully policing their own speech.

One of the biggest problems with the Act is that it tries to make laws on an issue where there are so many grey areas. Police officers will be forced to judge the intentions behind what people say, or to decide what constitutes a ‘reasonable’ opinion.

Along with my Scottish Conservative colleagues, I voted against this law when it was brought to the Scottish Parliament in 2021. Unfortunately, every other party chose to vote for the bill despite numerous valid and pertinent concerns being raised by many.

We all want to tackle genuine hatred between different groups in society, there is no question about that, however there are so many better ways we can achieve this, without resorting to risking important principles such as freedom of speech.

If Humza Yousaf doesn’t want his stint as First Minister to continue as badly as it has begun, he will need to change direction quickly. In the last month alone, we’ve seen free speech threatened with one hand, while Scotland’s tourism industry is dealt a blow with the other.

I will continue to call for U-turns on these issues, and for a renewed focus on the real priorities of Scots in the coming years. Humza’s first year in office may have been a write-off, but we can only live in hope that the next year is an improvement.