umza Yousaf is hoping for sunshine. In chatty video clips that have circulated on social media this week, the first minister extends a personal invitation to SNP members and the wider yes movement to attend this Saturday’s Believe in Scotland march and rally for independence. And he assures them that whatever the weather, “nothing can dampen our enthusiasm and determination”.

It signals a distinct change in emphasis from his predecessor, Nicola Sturgeon, who rarely attended marches like this one, according to the veteran independence campaigner Lesley Riddoch. By contrast, Yousaf has the top speaker billing at the rally.

Not that these challenges have detained Yousaf himself, who has used the relative freedom of the summer recess to make good on his pledge to be “first activist” as much as first minister, popping up at local events across the country. “He’s very reachable and very visible,” says one MSP, “which is good for members but also for the public more widely.”

Next week, MSPs will return to the Scottish parliament to hear Yousaf set out his first programme for government – the Holyrood equivalent of the king’s speech – which could be an important moment of reset.

Want to see more SNP fails? – Health Matters

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