Fergus Ewing insists he will not be ‘hounded out’ of the SNP
The former minister spoke out after he was disciplined for rebelling against the leadership.
The 66-year-old said he had no intention of retiring from frontline politics at the next Holyrood election in 2026.
The Inverness and Nairn MSP – son of the late SNP trailblazer Winnie Ewing – has been an outspoken critic of the party’s leadership in the past year. He has publicly objected to a number of policies, including plans for highly protected marine areas (HPMAs), the deposit return scheme and the Government’s deal with the Greens.
Before summer recess, Mr Ewing voted with the opposition in favour of a motion of no confidence in Green co-leader and Government minister Lorna Slater.
On Wednesday evening, 48 of his colleagues – not including First Minister Humza Yousaf who returned home due to illness before the vote – backed a one-week suspension, which will see the MSP sit as an independent for the duration. Nine voted against the sanction and four abstained.
Speaking to the Sunday Mail, Mr Ewing said: “I’ve served the SNP and the cause of independence for half a century and I’m not going to be hounded out of the party I love. I’ve consulted with my lawyer and we have a good argument. I was voting with my conscience for my constituents.
“We are going through a period at the moment where we’ve chosen the wrong path. We’ve associated ourselves with extremists.
"For most of the last 50 years we were a party that put Scotland first, that was our DNA. But since we have become associated with the Green Party, instead of putting people first we seem to be inflicting pain on them for no gain.
“What I mean by that is pursuing laws and regulations that are plainly dud and defective – the deposit return scheme, the fishing ban, the short-term let regulations, the Gender Recognition Reform Bill.
“Inflicting pain on voters for no gain is a nonsensical and manifestly absurd political strategy. I want the SNP to resume its role as the party that stands up for Scotland, and also the party of competent government – that’s what the public expect and want they are entitled to expect.
“That means being humble, admitting when we’ve got something wrong, putting things right and taking great care that infrastructure projects are delivered on time and on budget. It also means a major overhaul of how we manage our health service and how we improve our education system. These are the basics of good pragmatic government and we need to get back to it.”
Mr Ewing, who has been an MSP since 1999, insisted he was not calling for Mr Yousaf to resign. But he added: “It’s not compulsory, if you’re the captain of a ship, to aim deliberately to hit the iceberg – you can change course and the sooner you do the better it is for everybody.”
He said he had no plans to retire. “There’s life in me yet,” he said. “When 2026 comes along I’ll be younger than my mother was when she stood for the Scottish Parliament. I’ve got no plans to retire.”
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