Nicola Sturgeon recruits new government top team with equality in mind

She said the appointments underlined her determination to put equality at the heart of public life in Scotland

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The Scottish government’s top team is to be split evenly between men and women, Nicola Sturgeon, the new First Minister announced today.

She said the appointments underlined her determination to put equality at the heart of public life in Scotland.

Ms Sturgeon, who formally took over from Alex Salmond this week, will head a team of five men and five women. The former SNP leader, John Swinney, will serve as her deputy following his election.

Overall the team is designed to present a fresh face to the Scottish electorate ahead of the next Holyrood elections in 2016 and to capitalise on the party’s surge in support following the independence referendum campaign.

Speaking at her official residence Bute House in Edinburgh, Ms Sturgeon said: “Every member of the Cabinet is part of this Government’s top team on merit, on the basis of the excellent work they have already done as ministers.

“The Cabinet line-up is also a clear demonstration that this Government will work hard in all areas to promote women, to create gender equality and it sends out a strong message that we will start the business of redressing the gender balance in public life, starting right here in Government.”

Shona Robison, a strong ally of Ms Sturgeon, won an eye-catching promotion to health secretary, while Keith Brown and Angela Constance, who both unsuccessfully stood as deputy leader, were also both promoted.

The biggest casualty was Kenny McAskill who endured a torrid spell as Justice Secretary, along with another prominent figure, Mike Russell, a former SNP chief executive.

Ms Sturgeon said: “The aims of my government are clear: to create a nation that is both socially democratic and socially just, a nation that is confident in itself and governed effectively and a nation which will address poverty, support business, promote growth and tackle inequality.

“The new cabinet team I have announced will pursue these priorities with verve, vigour and determination.”

Sturgeon’s “team of talents”

John Swinney (Deputy First Minister). The former SNP leader also takes responsibility for the economy, fiscal policy, business and industry.

Shona Robison (Health, Wellbeing and Sport). Sturgeon ally secures high-profile promotion to a post once held by the new First Minister.

Angela Constance (Education and Lifelong Learning). Promoted to Cabinet after failed tilt at deputy leadership. Succeeds Mike Russell.

Keith Brown (Infrastructure, Investment and Cities). Former Royal Marine is promoted from transport minister.

Roseanna Cunningham (Fair Work, Skills and Training). Left-winger who has clashed in the past with Ms Sturgeon.

Michael Matheson (Justice). Surprise elevation. Inherits a portfolio mired in controversy under Kenny McAskill.

Alex Neil (Social Justice, Communities and Pensioners’ Rights). Demoted from health, but remains in Cabinet.

Richard Lochhead (Rural Affairs, Food and Environment). Remains in post he has held for seven years.

Fiona Hyslop – (Culture, Europe and External Affairs). Stays on, leading on culture and the arts.