John Swinney reaches out to 'intelligent' Kate Forbes as he confirms SNP leadership bid

John Swinney has reached out to Kate Forbes after declaring he will be a candidate to replace Humza Yousaf as SNP leader.

The former deputy first minister used a speech at a community hall in Edinburgh to insist he had the experience to steer the SNP through minority government.

He lavished praise on Forbes, who will make her decision on whether to stand today, and promised to unite the factional SNP.

The MSP, who led the party twenty years ago, also said he was in it for the long haul: "I am no caretaker. I am no interim leader."

Swinney had already racked up a long list of endorsements from Cabinet ministers and other senior Nationalists before the launch.

The only question left to answer is whether Forbes, a former Finance Secretary who lost to Yousaf last year, will force a contest.

John Swinney
John Swinney was SNP leader between 2000 and 2004 -Credit:Getty Images

The SNP veteran said he wanted Forbes to play a “significant part” in his team, likely to be a senior Cabinet post.

He said: “She is an intelligent, creative, thoughtful person who has much to contribute to our national life and if elected I will make sure that Kate is able to make that contribution.

“And that will be part of a united team that draws together our whole party, which given my deep deep devotion to the SNP I think I am best placed to put together.”

Swinney said: “I am offering to lead my party through the Westminster elections, to lead us beyond the 2026 elections, to contest, which I intend to win for the SNP and for Scotland”.

The MSP also said he will keep the party on the progressive side of Scottish politics.

He said: “Only the SNP stand where the majority of people want their government to be, in the moderate centre left of Scottish politics.

“That is where I stand and if elected by my party and by parliament my goals as first minister will come straight from that centre left tradition – the pursuit of economic growth and social justice.”

Recognising SNP divisions, he admitted his party is “not cohesive right now, we are not together”.

He added: “We’re not operating as one, big unified team."

He also praised the SNP's record in office: “I want to build on the work of the SNP government to create a modern, diverse, dynamic Scotland that will ensure opportunities for all of our citizens.

“I want to unite the SNP and unite Scotland for independence.”

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