John Swinney

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John Swinney
MSP
John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Sustainable Growth (1).jpg
Deputy First Minister of Scotland
Incumbent
Assumed office
21 November 2014
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
Preceded by Nicola Sturgeon
Cabinet Secretary for Finance,
Constitution and Economy
Incumbent
Assumed office
17 May 2007
First Minister Alex Salmond
Nicola Sturgeon
Preceded by Tom McCabe
Leader of the Scottish National Party
In office
26 September 2000 – 3 September 2004
Deputy Roseanna Cunningham
Preceded by Alex Salmond
Succeeded by Alex Salmond
Depute Leader of the Scottish National Party
In office
25 August 1998 – 26 September 2000
Leader Alex Salmond
Preceded by Allan Macartney
Succeeded by Roseanna Cunningham
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Perthshire North
Incumbent
Assumed office
6 May 2011
Preceded by Constituency Created
Majority 10,353 (34.6%)
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for North Tayside
In office
6 May 1999 – 6 May 2011
Preceded by Constituency Created
Succeeded by Constituency Abolished
Member of Parliament
for Tayside North
In office
1 May 1997 – 7 June 2001
Preceded by Bill Walker
Succeeded by Pete Wishart
Personal details
Born (1964-04-13) 13 April 1964 (age 50)
Edinburgh, Scotland
Nationality Scottish
Political party Scottish National Party
Spouse(s) Lorna King (m. 1991-1998, div.); Elizabeth Quigley (m.2003)
Children 2 (1st marriage)
Alma mater University of Edinburgh
Occupation Management consultant
Religion Church of Scotland[1]
Website Official website

John Ramsay Swinney (born 13 April 1964) is a Scottish National Party politician who is currently the Deputy First Minister of Scotland and the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Constitution and Economy. He is also the Member of the Scottish Parliament for Perthshire North, having previously represented North Tayside (1999–2011). Perthshire North takes in Highland and East Perthshire, the Carse of Gowrie and the Perth City Centre ward of Perth and Kinross Council.

He joined the Scottish National Party in 1979 at the age of 15 and has held a number of posts within the party at local and national level, including National Secretary, Vice Convener for Publicity and Depute Leader. In 2000, Swinney was elected Leader (or National Convenor) of the SNP, becoming Leader of the Opposition in the Scottish Parliament. He stood down as SNP leader in 2004 and became Convener of the Scottish Parliament's European and External Relations Committee.

Swinney was previously a Member of Parliament (MP) for Tayside North in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, before taking the same seat in the Scottish Parliament's 1999, 2003 and 2007 elections. In 2007 he achieved the largest constituency vote for any candidate in Scotland. At the election in May 2011, he was re-elected with 18,219 votes, and a majority of 10,353. Swinney's vote was the second highest in Scotland, second only to the former First Minister, Alex Salmond MSP.

Following Nicola Sturgeon taking the office of First Minister, it was announced on 21 November 2014 that Swinney would become Deputy First Minister of Scotland in a cabinet reshuffle.[1]

Born in Edinburgh, Swinney was educated at Forrester High School and the University of Edinburgh, graduating in 1986 as a Master of Arts with Honours in Politics. Prior to his election to the UK Parliament in 1997, Swinney was employed as Strategic Planning Principal with Scottish Amicable and was a business and economic development consultant for five years. Swinney is married and has three children. He also has a brother, David, who works in education.

Background and early career[edit]

Swinney joined the SNP at the age of 15, citing his anger at the way in which Scotland had been portrayed by television commentators at the Commonwealth Games. He involved himself in the SNP Youth Wing and gradually became more active in the party, becoming firstly the SNP Assistant National Secretary and then the National Secretary in 1986, at the age of 22. He was educated at Forrester High School and the University of Edinburgh, where he graduated with an MA in Politics.

Swinney was a research officer for the Scottish Coal Project (1987–1988), a senior management consultant with Development Options (1988–1992), and a strategic planning principal with Scottish Amicable (1992–1997). In the SNP, he served as National Secretary until 1992, then Vice Convenor, later Senior Vice-Convenor (Deputy Leader) 1992-1997. At the time of the 1990 leadership contest he supported Margaret Ewing in her bid to become SNP leader, but this did not stop him becoming politically close to the man who went on to win that contest, Alex Salmond.

House of Commons (1997-2001)[edit]

At the 1997 general election, he was elected as Member of Parliament (MP) for the Tayside North constituency, and in 1999 he was elected to represent the same area at the Scottish Parliament.

He stood down as a Westminster MP at the 2001 general election election in order to avoid splitting his time, in line with all of his colleagues who found themselves in a similar 'dual mandate' position.

Scottish Parliament (1999-present)[edit]

SNP Leader (2000-2004)[edit]

The leadership contest in 2000, caused by Alex Salmond's decision to step down as party leader, was marked by serious argument between the Gradualist wing of the party, who in the main supported Swinney and the Fundamentalist wing, who in the main supported Alex Neil. Swinney won the contest but the media raised some doubt about his ability to lead the party following poor SNP performances in the 2001 UK General Election and the 2003 Scottish Parliamentary Election. He defeated a leadership challenge from Bill Wilson in 2003, defeating Wilson by 577 votes to 111.

Though retaining its two seats at the 2004 European elections, in a smaller field of 7 (Scotland up until then had 8 MEPs) the Scottish press and certain elements within the fundamentalist wing of the Party depicted the result as a disaster for the SNP putting further pressure on Swinney who resigned soon afterwards on 22 June 2004.

Finance Secretary (2007-present)[edit]

After the SNP emerged as the largest party following the 2007 Scottish Parliament Election, Swinney led coalition talks with the Scottish Green Party.[2] He was later appointed Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth in the Cabinet of the minority SNP government.[3]

As response to Swinney not notifying the Scottish Parliament that he had let the Scottish Variable Rate lapse due to not funding this tax mechanism, the Scottish Parliament voted to censure him and called his actions "an abuse of power".[4] Subsequently, a freedom of information request showed that even if Swinney had funded the mechanism, problems and delays in the HM Revenue & Customs computer system made any collection of the tax impossible. The Scottish Government added, "The power has not lapsed, the HMRC simply does not have an IT system capable of delivering a ten-month state of readiness."[5][6]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Bill Walker
Member of Parliament for North Tayside
19972001
Succeeded by
Peter Wishart
Scottish Parliament
Preceded by
Constituency Created
Member of the Scottish Parliament for North Tayside
19992011
Succeeded by
Constituency Abolished
Preceded by
Constituency Created
Member of the Scottish Parliament for Perthshire North
2011–present
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
Tom McCabe
Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Constitution and Economy
2007–present
Incumbent
Preceded by
Nicola Sturgeon
Deputy First Minister of Scotland
2014–present
Incumbent
Party political offices
Preceded by
Allan Macartney
Depute Leader of the Scottish National Party
1998–2000
Succeeded by
Roseanna Cunningham
Preceded by
Alex Salmond
Leader of the Scottish National Party
2000–2004
Succeeded by
Alex Salmond