Political Veteran John Swinney Set To Be Named Scotland’s Next Leader

On Monday, Scottish political veteran John Swinney was named chairman of the pro-independence SNP party, putting him in line to become Scotland’s new leader.

Swinney, 60, told X, formerly Twitter, that he was “deeply honoured to have been elected as leader of the SNP” after Humza Yousaf quit last week after less than a year as Scottish leader and head of the Scottish National Party (SNP).

The SNP confirmed Swinney’s election after nominations closed at noon (1100 GMT) with no other candidates surfacing.

He later informed reporters that, in addition to advocating for Scottish independence, his main policy goal was to eliminate child poverty.

“It is a curse and under my leadership, I want to eradicate it in Scotland,” he added.

On independence, he stated that the party would “get our act together” to regain the votes of supporters who may have abandoned the party in recent years.

Humza resigned last Monday as he faced a confidence vote in the Scottish parliament, which he was expected to lose after splitting with his junior coalition partners, the Scottish Green Party, over climate policy.

Swinney, an old party member who led the SNP from 2000 to 2004 while the nationalists were in opposition, will now face a vote in the Scottish parliament later this week.

However, he inherits a difficult political legacy, with former SNP leader and ally Nicola Sturgeon mired in a party finance controversy and an uncertain domestic policy picture.

Loss of momentum

Critics accuse the SNP, which has been in power in Edinburgh for 17 years, of prioritising independence over matters like as the cost of living and health.

Since Scotland’s rejection against leaving the UK in a referendum in 2014, the party has struggled to regain momentum for another independence vote.

Meanwhile, three public polls conducted in April found that support for independence had dropped to between 41 and 43 percent.

With the SNP leading a minority administration in Scotland’s 129-seat parliament, Swinney will need the cooperation of another party to establish a governing coalition or enact legislation.

However, he stated that he would not revive the Bute House Agreement, a power-sharing agreement between the SNP and the Scottish Greens that has since expired.

“I don’t intend to return to the Bute House Agreement,” he added, adding that he prefers to handle situations on an individual basis.

The administration is presently two votes short of an overall majority, having survived a no-confidence motion brought by the Labour opposition last week with the support of the Greens.

The schisms in the SNP are being keenly monitored in London ahead of the UK general election later this year.

The SNP presently has 43 seats in the UK Parliament.

The UK’s main Labour opposition is aiming for a rebound in its former heartland north of the English border to enable it win a landslide victory in the general election.

The Scottish Parliament, which was re-established in 1999, has limited authority to determine policy in sectors such as health, education, transportation, and the environment.

The UK government in London retains jurisdiction over national matters such as defence and foreign policy.

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