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John Swinney confirms bid to run for SNP leadership and become Scotland’s First Minister

02 May 2024 2 minute read
John Swinney speaks during a press conference at the Grassmarket Community Project in Edinburgh, where he confirmed he is running to succeed Humza Yousaf as both SNP leader and Scotland’s next first minister. Photo Jane Barlow/PA Wire

Former deputy first minister John Swinney has become the first candidate to declare he is running to succeed Humza Yousaf as SNP leader and Scotland’s first minister.

If successful it will be the second time Mr Swinney, who was deputy first minister for more than eight years under Nicola Sturgeon, has led his party, having held the post between 2000 and 2004.

His leadership bid has already been backed by a number of prominent SNP figures, including Westminster leader Stephen Flynn, Scottish Health Secretary Neil Gray and Scottish Education Secretary Jenny Gilruth.

Former Holyrood finance secretary Kate Forbes – who has also been touted as a successor to Mr Yousaf following his resignation on Monday – is expected to announce later on Thursday whether she will run for the post.

Private talks

She and Mr Swinney held private talks on Tuesday, but it is not known whether any agreement was reached.

Announcing his leadership bid at the Grassmarket Community Project in Edinburgh on Thursday, he said the facility brings “hope to some of the most vulnerable people in society”.

He added: “This place reflects my values, who I am, and it’s therefore the right place for me to confirm that I intend to stand for election as leader of the Scottish National Party.

“I want to build on the work of the SNP Government to create a modern, diverse, dynamic Scotland that will ensure opportunities for all of our citizens.

“I want to unite the SNP and unite Scotland for independence.”

Mr Swinney said, if elected, he will be “part of a united team that draws together the whole party”, and said he wants Ms Forbes to “play a significant part in that team”.

Addressing how long he intends to stay in the top job, he said: “I am no caretaker, I am no interim leader.”

Mr Swinney has been an MSP since the Scottish Parliament’s inception in 1999, serving North Tayside, and previously represented the same constituency at Westminster in 1997.

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