John Swinney Assumes First Minister Role, Kate Forbes Named Deputy Amid Controversy

Scotland embarks on a new political era as John Swinney assumes office as first minister amidst controversy surrounding the appointment of Kate Forbes as deputy first minister. Here’s the full story.

New Dawn

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Scotland has awoken to a new dawn with a new First Minister, John Swinney, the seventh person to hold the highest office in Scottish politics.

Point of Contention

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However, the new dawn may not be as bright as Swinney may have hoped, with controversy already surrounding his candidacy for leadership, where he stood unopposed following the resignation of Humza Yousaf, and the appointment of Kate Forbes as deputy First Minister, whose Conservative Christian values have been a point of contention for many in Scottish political life. 

Extreme Turbulence

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Scottish politics has been through a period of extreme turbulence recently, with many in the governing Scottish National Party (SNP) hopeful that Swinney, a long-standing and well-liked Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP), will bring back a period of stability. 

Shock Resignation

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The reversal of the SNP’s fortunes began with the shock resignation of Nicola Sturgeon, the former First Minister, and the police probe into accusations of embezzlement of party funds by her husband, Peter Murrell, who was chief executive of the SNP at the time. 

Minority Government

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Humza Yousaf, who ran against Kate Forbes, was elected by a narrow margin into the post of First Minister, where he lasted just over a year until he unexpectedly ended the power-sharing agreement the SNP had with the Scottish Greens, which caused his downfall, and led the SNP to govern as a minority government in Scotland.

Collaborative and Inclusive

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Upon taking office, Swinney attempted to convey himself as a collaborative and inclusive leader, despite having previously been infamous for his cross-party heckling in the Scottish parliament, insisting to MSPs that “that will all stop – I have changed.”

“Support and Assistance”

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Swinney also spoke lovingly of his wife, Elizabeth Quigley, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, stating, “She is indefatigable in trying to make sure that MS does not get in the way of her living life to the full, but, much to her frustration, she does often have to rely on her husband for support and assistance.”

Family Sacrifices

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Swinney then thanked her for what he called “the sacrifices she is prepared to make to enable her husband to serve our country as First Minister.”

Controversy Candidate

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However, despite Swinney attempting to put a good foot forward with his ascension to the height of Scottish politics, controversy swirled surrounding his appointment of Kate Forbes as deputy First Minister. 

Serious Opposition

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The Scottish Greens, along with Labour and the Conservatives, voiced serious opposition to Forbes nomination, citing her conservative views on issues like equality for LGBTQ+ individuals. 

“Repressive Values”

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Patrick Harvie, the co-leader of the Scottish Greens, worried that Forbes’ appointment would lead to the return of “the repressive values of the 1950s.”

“Faith Is Not the Issue Here”

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Similarly, Ross Greer, a Scottish Greens MSP, was unequivocal in his condemnation of Forbes, stating that her “faith is not the issue here. The issue is that I am being asked to vote for someone who thinks there is something wrong with me, not because of any views I hold but simply because of who I am.”

“She Did Not”

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He continued, “Yesterday Kate Forbes was given the opportunity to reassure LGBT people in a question asked by ITV News. She did not. The first minister had to step in just to say the word LGBT.”

Religious Influence

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However, Swinney, who is a member of the same Free Church of Scotland as Forbes, was adamant that religious values would not influence his government’s positions. 

“First Minister for Everyone”

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Swinney stated, “When I say that I want to be the first minister for everyone in Scotland, I deeply mean that.”

“Modern, Dynamic and Diverse Scotland”

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He continued, “I want to lead a modern, dynamic and diverse Scotland, a place for everybody. Where everybody feels at home, at peace, that they have a place and that their place in our society is protected by my leadership of this country.”

Progressive Policymaking

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Swinney also defended Forbe’s record of progressive policymaking, including introducing the Scottish child payment when she was Finance Minister, showing that she would not be hamstrung by her religious beliefs. 

“Unprecedented Violence”

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Despite these assurances, the LGBTQ+ pro-independence group Out For Indy stated, “At a time when the LGBTQ+ community – especially trans people – face unprecedented violence and attacks both within and out with politics, more needs to be done to reassure the community – and to assure that the SNP’s legacy of fighting for LGBTQ+ rights is not undermined.”

Promise and Controversy

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Despite the turmoil, Scottish politics seems like it is returning to a period of normalcy following over a year of uncertainty, with the appointments of John Swinney as first minister and Kate Forbes as deputy first minister heralding both promise and controversy for Scotland.

The post John Swinney Assumes First Minister Role, Kate Forbes Named Deputy Amid Controversy first appeared on Swift Feed.

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