'Now is the time for John Swinney to lead Scotland as the next First Minister'

Cometh the hour, cometh the person.

Safe hands, a wise head and a good heart. The John Swinney I have known since I was a teenager is all of these things and more.

I am in no doubt that the best interests of the SNP, and more importantly all of Scotland, are best served by John becoming the new SNP leader and First Minister of Scotland.

Let’s be candid. We recognise that those of us in the SNP need to demonstrate that we remain worthy of the trust of the Scottish people. We do need a reset, a refocussing, a sense of renewal to clearly demonstrate that we are focused on the people’s priorities right now, as well as reenergising our journey to independence.

These are challenging times, many folk are struggling with the cost of living crisis, and they need public services that work. Folk want to see the bread and butter issues being dealt with but they also want hope and a vision that can keep delivering a fairer, more prosperous, greener Scotland. A competent Government and a programme of delivery that shows people we are on their side.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford speaks during Prime Minister's Questions
Ian Blackford has urged John Swinney to put himself forward -Credit:PA

John Swinney is by far the best person to take on that massive task. He has given a lifetime to public service already and has excelled in Government, not least as finance minister. He is a person far more interested in solutions than in slogans, far more interested in getting things done than exploiting problems.

He is of course a party man, of that there is no doubt. He has been a loyal servant of the SNP and our party membership are equally devoted to him. But he is also that rarest of things in modern politics – respected and admired across the political divide. Liked, respected and valued across the board – he is the party leader our political opponents most fear.

The SNP now faces being a minority Government until the next Scottish election in the spring of 2026. We need to lead, to inspire and demonstrate we are on the side of the people of Scotland. John has the experience, the character and the personality to lead and to work across the parliament to deliver for the people we all serve.

One final thought. We of course face challenges in Scotland but we can’t lose sight of the opportunities too. Our economy stands on the edge of a defining decade. There is an enormous opportunity to deliver a green industrial revolution - driving investment, creating good jobs, improving productivity, living standards and in turn creating the wealth to invest in our public services.

John can be trusted to bring our private sector, our public sector and our communities together to deliver on that defining economic agenda. It is a task he is ready made for.

Safe hands, a wise head and a good heart. This is the John Swinney I know. It is the First Minister I hope Scotland will soon get to know too.

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