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The Race to Succeed Nicola Sturgeon as SNP Leader


Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, announced her surprise resignation, stating that it was the right time to make way for someone else. The SNP’s national executive committee has begun the search for a new leader to replace Sturgeon, who has held the position for over eight years. As no clear successor has been identified, the party’s first leadership contest in nearly 20 years could feature a debate on the SNP’s future direction and strategy.

Possible Successors include:

  • John Swinney, Deputy First Minister and former SNP leader
  • Kate Forbes, Finance Secretary and rising SNP star
  • Angus Robertson, former head of the SNP’s Westminster group
  • Humza Yousaf, Health Secretary and part of a new generation of SNP figures
  • Keith Brown, Justice Secretary seen as an outsider bet.

Party Constitution and Leadership Contest:

According to the Scottish National Party’s constitution, a candidate for party leader must secure the support of at least 100 members from at least 20 different SNP branches. Nominations for the leadership contest are already open, and if there is more than one candidate, a vote of party members will determine the new leader. The party’s national executive committee will meet on Thursday to draw up a timetable for the leadership race, and with no obvious successor, the contest could see a debate on the party’s future direction and strategy. The leadership contest will be the SNP’s first in almost two decades.

Reactions from Political Leaders:

The reactions from political leaders towards the recent developments in Scottish politics have been mixed. Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has expressed his optimism that a UK Labour government is possible for the first time since 2010, in light of the recent surge in the party’s popularity in Scotland. He believes that the Scottish electorate is beginning to see Labour as a viable alternative to the SNP, which has been in power for over a decade. On the other hand, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross disagrees with this assessment and has instead argued that his party is the clear challenger to the SNP in multiple seats across Scotland. Ross’s comments reflect the Conservative Party’s continued focus on gaining seats in Scotland, which has become a key battleground in recent years. The differing views of the two leaders highlight the complex and unpredictable nature of Scottish politics, and the upcoming elections will likely prove to be a crucial test for all of the major political parties.

Sturgeon’s Legacy and Future:

Nicola Sturgeon’s tenure as Scotland’s first minister has been marked by a series of notable achievements, including a significant expansion of free childcare and the delivery of the first gender-balanced cabinet in the UK. As the first woman to hold the position, she has also broken down barriers and paved the way for future female leaders. Looking forward, Sturgeon has made clear her intention to continue to push for Scottish independence and to work on improving the life chances of children in care. While her immediate plans involve remaining an MSP until at least the next Holyrood election, there is also speculation that she may seek to play a role on the world stage with an organisation such as the United Nations. Regardless of her future endeavors, it is clear that Sturgeon has left an indelible mark on Scottish politics and society.

The search for a new leader of the SNP is a significant moment for the party as it will determine the direction and strategy of the party moving forward. With Nicola Sturgeon’s legacy as Scotland’s longest-serving first minister and the first woman to hold the position, her successor will have big shoes to fill. The next leader will need to navigate the complex political landscape of Scottish independence and build upon Sturgeon’s work to improve the lives of children who have grown up in care. As the SNP continues to champion for Scottish independence and address the country’s social issues, the new leader will play a critical role in shaping the party’s future and Scotland’s place in the world.

Barry Kirkham
Barry Kirkham
Barry Kirkham: Edinburgh Magazine's go-to for tales of tech, science, and yesteryears. Often found wandering Edinburgh's alleys, fork in one hand, history book in the other, he's your fun guide to Scotland's capital and its delicious mysteries!

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