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John Swinney Enters SNP Leadership Race, Vows to Unite Party and Pursue Scottish Independence

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SNP leadership contest: John Swinney enters the race to replace Humza Yousaf as Scotland's First Minister

Following Humza Yousaf's resignation this Monday, the hunt for the next SNP leader and Scottish First Minister is underway.

Scottish correspondent @Jenster13

Thursday, May 2, 2024, 11:

John Swinney has declared his intention to succeed Humza Yousaf as the leader of the SNP and as Scotland's First Minister.

The MSP for Perthshire North has been sitting as a backbencher for the past year following his resignation as deputy first minister coinciding with Nicola Sturgeon's departure in 2023.

During his announcement to campaign for the position of first minister, made at the Grassmarket Community Project in Edinburgh on Thursday, he expressed his desire: "I aim to expand upon the achievements of the SNP government to foster a contemporary, diverse, and vibrant Scotland that provides opportunities for every citizen."

"My goal is to bring together the SNP and rally all of Scotland in support of independence."

Mr. Swinney acknowledged that the SNP lacks the necessary unity to successfully attain its objective of Indyref2.

He stated, "This needs to be different. I could have remained passive, wishing for others to resolve it, but my deep concern for Scotland's future and the Scottish National Party compels me to act instead of just passing by."

Emphasizing his early membership in the SNP since his teenage years and his tenure as a senior minister for 16 years, he stated, "I am confident that my experience and abilities, along with the trust and confidence I hold from people across the nation, equip me to reunify the SNP and direct our focus toward our core strengths—uniting Scotland, serving the populace, and striving for the brightest future for our country."

Further Details on Humza Yousaf

Kate Forbes Will Not Enter SNP Leadership Contest to Succeed Humza Yousaf as Scotland's First Minister

John Swinney: Leading Contender to Succeed SNP Leader and First Minister Humza Yousaf?

John Swinney and Kate Forbes are set to deliver remarks ahead of the anticipated leadership contest within the SNP.

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Authorities are actively seeking a successor for the SNP and Scotland's leadership after Mr. Yousaf stepped down on Monday.

Shortly after his departure was announced, key members of the SNP quickly rallied behind Mr. Swinney. Notable endorsements came from the party's leader in Westminster, Stephen Flynn, Education Secretary Jenny Gilruth, and MPs Pete Wishart, Ian Blackford, and Alyn Smith.

Later today, ex-finance secretary Kate Forbes is anticipated to make an announcement. Speculations are high that she may emerge as a leading contender in the upcoming leadership contest.

Mr. Swinney commented, "Our Scottish government team includes numerous skilled individuals. I am eager for Kate Forbes to have a major role within our group."

"She possesses a sharp intellect, a creative spirit, and a considerate nature, all of which are valuable assets to our country. If I am elected, I will ensure that Kate has the opportunity to share her talents and contribute meaningfully.

"I will lead a cohesive team that unites our entire party, and considering my profound commitment to the SNP, I believe I am the most suitable candidate to assemble this team."

Mr. Swinney has held the position of MSP since the establishment of the Scottish Parliament in 1999, representing North Tayside. Before this, he served as the MP for the same area in Westminster starting in 1997.

Supporters claim that the politician, who previously served as finance secretary during Alex Salmond’s administration, possesses the necessary experience to guide the nation after Mr Yousaf's exit.

Under Ms. Sturgeon's leadership, he held multiple cabinet positions, such as education secretary, COVID-19 recovery secretary, and finance secretary, stepping in for Ms. Forbes while she was on maternity leave.

Throughout his tenure as Ms. Sturgeon's second-in-command, he solidified his status as a relentless advocate for his leader and a dedicated supporter of the SNP.

He narrowly survived two votes of no confidence in the Scottish Parliament, initially due to his management of school examinations amid the pandemic, and later for initially declining to release legal counsel regarding the investigation into the mishandled harassment allegations against Mr. Salmond.

The ex-chief of the SNP, who stepped down from his position in 2004 after disappointing outcomes in the European parliament elections, announced he would not enter the 2023 contest for leadership to succeed Ms. Sturgeon, stating the need to prioritize his young family.

He stated today: "One of the advantages of withdrawing from active political roles a year ago is that it gave me the chance to view our political landscape from a new angle."

Mr. Swinney emphasized that the SNP has accomplished a significant amount for the Scottish population, expressing particular pride in initiatives like the Scottish child payment, the provision of free university education, and the extensive increase in childcare options.

He mentioned that the policies of the SNP help elevate children out of poverty, provide them with a superior beginning in life, and facilitate their ability to attend university.

He also stated, "The SNP alone aligns with the majority who prefer their government to be moderately center-left in Scottish politics.

This is my position. Should I be chosen by my party and parliament, my objectives as first minister will be deeply rooted in the center-left ideology.

"The drive for economic expansion and societal fairness. Such growth is not an end in itself, but a means to enhance the services and foster the community we all aspire to create.

"I am committed to focusing on key areas that will position Scotland as a leading nation, renowned for its modernity, innovation, and dynamism."

For optimal video playback, it is recommended to utilize the Chrome browser.

Mr. Swinney stated that additional measures are necessary to lift more children from poverty.

He further stated that the climate crisis poses an immediate and serious risk to our society, emphasizing that a strategy for achieving net zero emissions must be developed in a way that includes and supports both individuals and businesses.

Discussing the subject of autonomy, he stated: "Throughout my adult life, I have held the conviction that Scotland would thrive as a sovereign nation. However, I acknowledge that we need to persuade more individuals of this view before we can realize independence."

"I am dedicating my energy to engaging respectfully and thoughtfully in Scotland to overcome the challenges that hinder our progress toward independence – aiming to convince individuals that Scotland's prospects are most promising with the autonomy that independence offers."

Further reading: Yousaf cautions about the risks of a divisive leadership battle within the party, questioning its future path.

Stay informed on the most recent developments from the UK and globally by tuning into Sky News.

In a conversation with Sky News on Wednesday, Mr. Yousaf dismissed the idea that he was being pushed out to clear the path for Mr. Swinney as "total nonsense."

Today, Mr. Swinney declared, "I am neither a caretaker nor an interim leader."

He further expressed his commitment to remain at the helm of the SNP through the upcoming general election and the 2026 Scottish Parliament election, emphasizing: "Thus, my clear and straightforward message is this – I am stepping up to unify the SNP and to achieve economic development and social fairness, aiming to secure the brightest possible future for all in a contemporary, vibrant, and inclusive Scotland.

"I aim to bring together both the SNP and Scotland in pursuit of independence. I call on all members of the SNP and our nation who are eager to embark on this path with me to join now."

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The deadline to submit nominations for the leadership of the SNP is set for midday on Monday, May

Aspiring contenders must secure the endorsement of 100 members across 20 distinct SNP branches to be eligible to enter the race.

Voting is set to commence at 12pm on Monday, May 13, and will conclude at 12pm on Monday, May 27.

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