Leader of the SNP John Swinney: promises and real prospects

Credit: Altopix
Author London Cult.
Category Columnists, People, Town
Date May 7 2024
Reading Time 3 min.

Leader of the SNP John Swinney: promises and real prospects

After a series of political upheavals and leadership changes, the Scottish National Party (SNP) has settled on a leader – John Swinney. Taking the reins of power, Swinney outlined an ambitious program aimed at uniting the nation, reviving the economy, and addressing pressing social issues. In addition to the traditional political statements, there was something of interest: Swinney promised to find common ground with political opponents, meaning the polarising rhetoric characteristic of Scottish politics in recent years has changed.

After the resignation of former First Minister Hamza Yousaf (who left his post due to disagreements with the influential “green” party), Swinney became the favourite in the race for the SNP leadership, a position he had held before from 2000 to 2004.

In his speech delivered in Glasgow, John Swinney acknowledged that the party had gone through turbulent times, but now under SNP leadership, the homeland would finally begin to prosper, the environment would be protected, and all citizens would be able to take advantage of wide-ranging opportunities and so on and so forth. Swinney declared his commitment to eradicating child poverty, highlighting it as a priority task for the future administration, and also emphasised inclusivity and called for respectful dialogue with those who hold different views.

The path to power for Swinney was not thorny. The only real obstacle, albeit short-lived, was when SNP veteran GraemeMcCormick challenged Swinney’s candidacy for leadership. The matter was resolved quite quickly: McCormick withdrew from the race after negotiations with his opponent. Additionally, former finance minister Kate Forbes, another potential contender for a high position, also supported Swinney: she was promised a position in the new government.

Now, as Swinney prepares to become the leader of the SNP and this should happen today, as Hamza Yousaf has already officially resigned Scotland stands at a crossroads. On the one hand, prosperity is promised to the country, but on the other hand, the tension in relations between the SNP and the business circles determining Scotland’s economic development has not been canceled.

Complex relations between the SNP and Scottish business leaders emerged in the early days of Alex Salmond’s tenure as First Minister (back in 2007). Salmond’s initial overtures to the business community were met with optimism: the SNP demonstrated a commitment to economic growth.

However, the ex-First Minister made a number of mistakes thereafter. For example, in the same year of 2007, he sent a letter offering friendship and support to Sir Fred Goodwin, the head of the Royal Bank of Scotland. And who knew that such a move would end in failure? Just a year later, due to Goodwin’s fault, the bank lost £45 billion, and the banker himself became one of the most hated figures in Britain. Nevertheless, such miscalculations by the Salmond administration undermined the business’s trust in the government and laid the foundation for years of tension.

Moreover, for many years, the interaction between the SNP and the business community has been marked by inconsistency and chaos. While Salmond (despite all his mistakes) still made efforts to improve relations with Scottish entrepreneurs, his successor Nicola Sturgeon pursued a different approach, focusing primarily on social issues and relegating business concerns to the background.

In recent years, the SNP has been entirely preoccupied with internal problems, while opponents, such as Scottish Labour, actively courted business leaders to their side. As a result, such a policy only exacerbated the rift between the SNP and the business community.

So now, amidst political uncertainty (the conflict with the “greens” is still unresolved, and the question of independence is raised quite regularly) and economic problems, Scotland’s prospects will largely depend on the priorities of the new government. Moreover, it will require not just symbolic gestures from the First Minister but genuine determination, a willingness to understand and meet the needs of those who create jobs in the country. Swinney will need to learn from the lessons of the past and demonstrate a readiness to cooperate with business circles in order to move forward on the path of Scotland’s economic recovery.

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