Tomorrow Nicola Sturgeon will be re-elected as First Minister tomorrow by the Scottish Parliament, after which she is expected to announce her new Government team of Cabinet Secretaries and Ministers.
So far she has already announced plans for a new cabinet post of Economy Secretary, splitting the responsibilities of the current Finance and Economic Growth brief held by John Swinney. Ms Sturgeon said the new powers over tax and welfare and the current economic challenges posed by unemployment figures and other difficulties facing businesses, including in the North Sea and Clyde shipyards, means a new cabinet secretary for economic growth is necessary.
Ms Sturgeon said the post holder’s responsibility would be to “stimulate growth, boost productivity and create jobs”, allowing the Finance Secretary to focus on the new tax and welfare powers that Holyrood will have for the first time.
If Mr Swinney remains in one of the two finance and economy posts it could mean promotion for another who has performed well and, given Ms. Sturgeon’s commitment to a gender balanced cabinet it is possible the roles, which would be considered the most senior positions after the First Minister could be split between a man and a woman, likely meaning a major reshuffle is on the cards around the Cabinet table.
Possible contenders include Infrastructure Secretary, Keith Brown, seen as a safe and competent Cabinet Secretary since his promotion from transport when he steadied the ship after Stewart Stevenson was forced to resign. Transport Minister, Derek Mackay, is another who could be promoted to a cabinet secretary role.
Angela Constance is expected to be moved from the education brief and the post will be one of the most important in Ms Sturgeon’s new government following her commitment to tackle the attainment gap between the most and least affluent pupils.
Pollok MSP, Humza Yousaf, is developing a growing reputation within the party and is close to Ms Sturgeon. After spending most of his first term as external affairs minister he could be in line for promotion.
New MSP, Jeane Freeman, could be catapulted straight into government with her experience already as a government adviser and enhanced reputation during the referendum campaign whilst former MSP, Shirley-Anne Somerville, destined for government before she lost her seat in 2011, could be in line for another job on her return.
With some junior ministers not returning to Parliament there are some posts to be filled and opportunities for long-standing MSPs and new faces to make their mark lower down the ministerial ladder. Housing Minister, Margaret Burgess MSP, did not seek re-election, like fellow Local Government Minister Marco Biagi and environment minister, Aileen McLeod lost her seat, leaving three junior posts to be filled.
Having secured her personal mandate, where previously she had inherited the post from Alex Salmond, along with his team, the new First Minister will now feel fully free to shape the new administration as she sees fit.