Humza Yousaf, Scottish Health Secretary, and Ash Regan, former minister, have announced they will stand to take over from Nicola Sturgeon as SNP leader and Scotland’s first minister.
The two are the first to register their candidacy after they announced their plans to run in the Sunday Mail.
Finance Minister Kate Forbes and deputy leader Keith Brown are two further candidates expected to run for office.
On March 27, the race’s winner is scheduled to be declared
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HAMZA YOUSAF STATEMENT
When first minister Nicola Sturgeon announced her resignation earlier this week, Yousaf claimed he had experienced a “rollercoaster of emotions” and had been considering succeeding her.
He says: “You’ve got to put yourself forward if you think you’re the best person for the job. And I do. This is the top job in the country, and it needs somebody who has experience.”
Since he was elected an MSP in 2011, Mr. Yousaf has held a prominent position on the SNP frontbench and has long been seen as a promising candidate for the party’s leadership.
Nevertheless, during his tenure as justice minister, the 37-year-old became mired in the debate over the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill, which drew criticism for its potential to restrict free speech.
His management of Scotland’s NHS, which recently endured the harshest winter in its history, has also drawn criticism.
With waiting times at record highs and doctors saying that the nation’s hospitals are unsafe for patients, Ms. Sturgeon has often received calls from opposition parties for her to fire Mr. Yousaf.
On Friday, Mr. Yousaf emphasized the record wage offer he made to NHS employees, saying that it was likely to prevent strikes for the upcoming fiscal year.
ASH REGAN STATEMENT
For her part, Ms. Regan tells the Sunday Mail that the SNP “needs to bring back unity, draw a line under certain things, and move past them,” adding that she believes she is “the person to do that.”
This statement refers to her opinions regarding the contentious Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill, which was later blocked by the Westminster government and was the SNP’s proposed changes to how people can change their legal gender in Scotland.
The SNP’s former minister for community safety resigned in protest before it was passed by a majority in Holyrood, and he afterward turned into a vocal opponent of the law.
Writing in the Sunday Mail, Ms. Regan says: “The electorate expect the Scottish Government to focus on things that are important to them.
“That means the NHS, which is still struggling to get back on its feet after the pandemic. People expect a first minister to concentrate on boosting the economy, creating jobs, and helping them deal with the cost-of-living crisis.”
Following Ms. Sturgeon’s statement, Ms. Regan, 48, demanded that SNP members who had recently left the party be granted a vote in the leadership election.
Nevertheless, Deputy First Minister John Swinney, who has already disqualified himself from the race, called this suggestion “preposterous.”
Both prominent MP Joanna Cherry and the SNP’s Westminster leader Stephen Flynn have declared that they will not seek the party’s leadership.
Finance Secretary Kate Forbes, who is presently on maternity leave, and SNP deputy leader Keith Brown are reportedly considering whether to run for office as well.
By Friday at noon, nominations for the leadership competition must be submitted.
The SNP has postponed a party conference that was supposed to take place on March 19 to go over their plan for achieving Scottish independence.
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