The Sturgeon Shuffle


In the most disruptive cabinet reshuffle in over a decade of SNP government, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced vast changes to her inner circle.

Following intense scrutiny and criticism over previous weeks, the resignation of Scotland’s health secretary Shona Robison is perhaps the highest profile casualty. In her deeply personal resignation letter, Robison outlined what has been a challenging year both personally and politically.

Whilst she has marked the significant milestones of introducing the long fought Minimum Unit Pricing and delivering Scotland’s first GP contract, Robison’s tenure has more recently been marred by struggling NHS performance, especially within NHS Tayside in her home constituency.

In an equally contentious departure, Humza Yousaf has been relieved of his role as Minister for Transport, but has escaped full termination of service being reassigned (with promotion) to Cabinet Secretary for Justice.

Looking to the junior ministerial team, it’s out with the old and in with the new, with many of Sturgeon’s appointments representing fresh talent from the 2016 general election. Rising stars of the SNP, Kate Forbes, Ben Macpherson, and Ash Denham have all received a boost to their political careers through today’s changes.

Sturgeon’s dramatic shuffle has expanded the gender balanced Cabinet team from 10 to 12 and redesigned some portfolio areas, introducing new positions with responsibility over Brexit and social security. The wide-ranging changes to junior ministers sees nine new faces appointed with five remaining in post with new or enhanced responsibilities.

With 11 years in power under their belt, the SNP administration is of course trying to reinvigorate a team which is slowly flagging in the opinion polls as Tories nip at their heels and Labour get back on their feet. Only time will tell whether this refresh can see the party successfully through to another parliamentary term in power, or whether this is the final sprint.

Meet the Scottish Government’s new team here.

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