Wednesday, May 29, 2024

John Swinney enters race to be next first minister of Scotland -Dlight News

Unlock the Editor’s Digest for free

John Swinney has launched a bid to be the next first minister of Scotland and leader of the Scottish National party, becoming the first candidate to declare in the race to succeed Humza Yousaf.

At a press conference on Thursday, Swinney said he would “stand for election as leader of the SNP” and wanted “to unite the Scottish National party and unite Scotland for independence”.

The former deputy first minister, who led the SNP between 2000 and 2004 and has been backed by senior party figures, said he would offer his main challenger Kate Forbes a “significant” job in government if elected.

Swinney described Forbes, who ran Yousaf close in last year’s bruising leadership contest and has said she is considering standing this year, as “intelligent, creative and thoughtful”.

Forbes — who held informal talks with Swinney on Tuesday — is expected to say later on Thursday whether she will enter this year’s race, according to the Press Association.

Swinney also rejected suggestions that he would serve a temporary term at the head of Scotland’s biggest party, vowing to lead the SNP through the upcoming Westminster general election and beyond the 2026 Holyrood vote.

“I am no caretaker, I am no interim leader,” Swinney told reporters, adding that his party faced “difficult times” and that he was standing in order to “sort out” internal divisions.

The SNP faces a big challenge from Labour, which hopes to take more than 20 seats from the nationalist party at the general election. Labour has just two Scottish MPs in Westminster, far from its heyday under Sir Tony Blair when it had 56.

Yousaf, who resigned this week after losing the support of the Scottish Greens by tearing up a power-sharing arrangement, is to remain head of the devolved government in Edinburgh until a successor is chosen. 

The party hierarchy would prefer to avoid a repeat of last year’s brutal leadership contest, which exposed internal divisions over social issues.

Swinney and Forbes would have to work with other parties to become first minister and deliver new legislation, given parliamentary arithmetic: the SNP has 63 seats and the opposition has 65.

Swinney on Thursday said he stood at the “moderate centre left” of Scottish politics, with a focus on social justice and economic growth to support public services.

Forbes was appointed Scotland’s first female finance secretary in 2020 by former first minister Nicola Sturgeon, a close ally of Swinney’s. But her opposition to same-sex marriage equality damaged her campaign last year.

Related Articles

- Advertisement -

Latest Articles

- Advertisement -