John Swinney confirms bid to run for SNP leadership and become first minister

Former deputy first minister John Swinney has become the first candidate to declare he is running to succeed Humza Yousaf as SNP leader and Scotland’s first minister.

If successful it will be the second time Mr Swinney, who was deputy first minister for more than eight years under Nicola Sturgeon, has led his party, having held the post between 2000 and 2004.

His leadership bid has already been backed by a number of prominent SNP figures, including Westminster leader Stephen Flynn, Scottish Health Secretary Neil Gray and Scottish Education Secretary Jenny Gilruth.

She and Mr Swinney held private talks on Tuesday, but it is not known whether any agreement was reached.

Announcing his leadership bid at the Grassmarket Community Project in Edinburgh on Thursday, he said the facility brings “hope to some of the most vulnerable people in society”.

He added: “This place reflects my values, who I am, and it’s therefore the right place for me to confirm that I intend to stand for election as leader of the Scottish National Party.

Kate Forbes
Kate Forbes is expected to make a statement later on Thursday on whether she too will run for the top job (Jane Barlow/PA)

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

Mr Swinney said, if elected, he will be “part of a united team that draws together the whole party”, and said he wants Ms Forbes to “play a significant part in that team”.

Addressing how long he intends to stay in the top job, he said: “I am no caretaker, I am no interim leader.”

John Swinney
John Swinney said he wants to lead the SNP to victory at the next Holyrood election in 2026 (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“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.”

Mr Swinney has been an MSP since the Scottish Parliament’s inception in 1999, serving North Tayside, and previously represented the same constituency at Westminster in 1997.

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