Cabinet reshuffle winners and losers

Michael Matheson is new justice secretary. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Michael Matheson is new justice secretary. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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1 MICHAEL Matheson has arguably the toughest job in the Cabinet, taking over the portfolio that has been most troublesome for the SNP administration. Kenny MacAskill’s reign as justice secretary was marred by a series of high-profile controversies.

Ms Sturgeon believes that the quietly spoken politician, who previously served as a junior health minister, is capable of bringing some stability to the role. Away from politics, Mr Matheson, in his mid-40s, is a keen mountaineer.

2 Angela Constance was a candidate for the deputy leadership of the SNP. In the end, she was defeated by Stewart Hosie. She was a contemporary of Ms Sturgeon at Glasgow University.

3 JOHN Swinney was the obvious choice as Deputy First Minister. He has masses of experience, is one of the most capable figures in the SNP and is popular with the party and with Scottish Government officials.

Not only has he become Deputy First Minister while retaining the crucial finance portfolio, he also has responsibility for the constitution – a brief on which he will work closely with Ms Sturgeon and which fits with his role as the SNP’s lead negotiator on the Smith Commission.

4 Shona Robison is another Glasgow University contemporary of Ms Sturgeon and the two women have been close ever since. As the minister for the Commonwealth Games, Ms Robison played a key role in delivering the Glasgow 2014 event.

Her husband is the newly elected SNP deputy leader, Stewart Hosie.

5 Keith Brown, 52, is a former Royal Marine who saw action in the Falklands in 1982. Edinburgh-born Mr Brown is widely respected outside the SNP. After the referendum, he ran as deputy leader and came second to Stewart Hosie but was widely seen as running the most effective campaign.

His new role in charge of infrastructure sees him retain his responsibility for veterans.

6 Roseanna Cunningham, known to many as “Republican Rose” for her views on the monarchy, has been a prominent member on the left of the SNP ever since her win in the Perth by-election in 1995.

To some, it was a surprise that the Australian- raised politician, who was born in Glasgow, has not achieved cabinet rank sooner but it was known she had not always agreed with Alex Salmond.


7 Richard Lochhead, holds on to his post at Rural Affairs and the Environment. 
8 Fiona Hyslop retains Culture and External Affairs.
9 Alex Neil moves from health to social justice.


10 Kenny MacAskill, 56, has been a major figure in the SNP since the late 1970s when he became a leading member of the 79 Group which tried to push the party to a more left-wing position.

Depite his differences with Alex Salmond, he was made justice secretary when the party came to power in 2007. His notable acts included releasing Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi. Once arrested after an England-Scotland game for allegedly drinking too much, he also tried to push through minimum pricing.

11 Michael Russell, 61, has been a colourful figure in the SNP and one of its leading thinkers for many years.

Between 1994 and 1999, he was the SNP’s chief executive and was blamed for placing the party in financial trouble after he launched its own newspaper.

He temporarily broke up with his wife after he ran off with his researcher who was 21 years his junior. She left him within ten days.