John Swinney announces he will stand in SNP leadership race

Mr Swinney announced his candidacy at an event in Scotland this morning after days of speculation

Zoe Grunewald
Thursday 02 May 2024 10:56 BST
John Swinney 'considering' standing for SNP leader after Humza Yousaf resignation

John Swinney has announced his intention to stand for election as leader of the Scottish National Party.

Announcing his candidacy during a press conference, the MSP and former Deputy First Minister of Scotland said: “ 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 opportunity for all of our citizens.

He added: “I want to unite the SNP, and unite Scotland for independence.

Mr Swinney also said he wants fellow leadership frontrunner Kate Forbes to be part of his new government team, describing her as an “intelligent, creative person who has much to contribute”.

Mr Swinney’s announcement follows the resignation of former leader Humza Yousaf earlier in the week, who stepped aside following a decision to collapse a power-sharing agreement with the Scottish Greens.

The once-dominant nationalist party is now undergoing a process to appoint a new leader.

John Swinney has announced he will run to become the next SNP leader and first minister
John Swinney has announced he will run to become the next SNP leader and first minister (PA Wire)

Ms Forbes, the former Scottish cabinet secretary who previously narrowly missed out to Mr Yousaf’s leadership bid, is widely expected to announce her decision to stand for leader later this afternoon.

But the party is undergoing a period of chaos after former leader Nicola Sturgeon’s husband Peter Murrell, who ran the party for 22 years, has been charged in connection with the embezzlement of SNP funds.

Ms Sturgeon herself was arrested amid an investigation into the party’s finances and then released without charge. She has denied wrongdoing.

Her predecessor Alex Salmond has also returned to the political spotlight, aiming barbs at the SNP’s descent into the politics of “culture wars”.

The SNP is also facing the prospect of an electoral drubbing after being challenged by a resurgent Labour Party, set to win back swathes of seats north of the border less than a decade after being almost completely wiped out in Scotland.

Mr Swinney said he would stand in the “moderate centre-left” of Scottish politics, “where a majority of people want their government to stand”.

He said that if elected, his goals as first minister will come straight from the straight of centre-left tradition: “The pursuit of economic growth, and social justice. Economic growth, not for its own sake, but to support the services and the society we all want to see.”

Mr Swinney said his message was “crisp and simple”: “I am stepping forward to bring the SNP together. I want to unite the SNP and unite Scotland for independence. I invite everyone in the SNP and in our country who wants to join me in that journey to do so now.”

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