John Swinney

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John Swinney
John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Sustainable Growth (1).jpg
Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth
Assumed office
17 May 2007
First Minister Alex Salmond
Preceded by Tom McCabe
(Minister for Finance and Public Services)
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
Deputy Leader of the Scottish National Party
In office
1998 – 26 September 2000
Leader Alex Salmond
Preceded by Allan Macartney
Succeeded by Roseanna Cunningham
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Perthshire North
North Tayside 1999-2011
Assumed office
6 May 2011
Preceded by Constituency created
Majority 10,353 (34.6%)
Member of the UK Parliament
for Tayside North
In office
1 May 1997 – 7 June 2001
Preceded by Bill Walker
Succeeded by Pete Wishart
Majority 4,160 (9.1%)
Personal details
Born (1964-04-13) 13 April 1964 (age 50)
Edinburgh, Scotland
Nationality Scottish
Political party Scottish National Party
Alma mater University of Edinburgh
Religion Church of Scotland[1]
Website Official website

John Ramsey Swinney (born 13 April 1964) is the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth in the Scottish Government and the Scottish National Party 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 Deputy 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 First Minister, Alex Salmond MSP.

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. 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 - )[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 - )[edit]

After the SNP emerged as the largest party following the 2007 Scottish Parliament Election, Swinney led coalition talks with the Scottish Green Party.[1] He was later appointed Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth in the Cabinet of the minority SNP government.[2]

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".[3] 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."[4][5]


External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Bill Walker
Member of Parliament for North Tayside
Succeeded by
Peter Wishart
Scottish Parliament
Preceded by
Constituency Created
Member of the Scottish Parliament for Perthshire North
(previously North Tayside)

Party political offices
Preceded by
Allan Macartney
Senior Vice Convener (Deputy Leader) of the Scottish National Party
Succeeded by
Roseanna Cunningham
Preceded by
Alex Salmond
National Convener (Leader) of the Scottish National Party
Succeeded by
Alex Salmond