The three main flashpoints at First Minister's Questions as John Swinney targeted by 'honest John' barb

All eyes were on John Swinney at First Minister’s Questions - but just how did he perform under the spotlight?

John Swinney came under fire on a range of issues at First Minister’s Questions on Thursday. The Conservatives once again raised concerns about oil and gas, and Labour pressed the First Minister on issues with the NHS, whilst the Greens argued for a wealth tax.

Here are the three main flashpoints during a spirited session at Holyrood.

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Oil and gas

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross used his time to press Mr Swinney on the issue of new oil and gas licences. Mr Ross said the SNP was rejecting 1,600 jobs and £6 of investment linked to the proposed Rosebank oil field because “the party opposes every new oil and gas development in the North Sea”. 

Mr Swinney accused the Tory leader of presenting an inaccurate picture of his previous remarks and said new licenses would be considered on a case-by-case basis using a climate compatibility test.  

He went on to say the Government had a “rational and considered process”, and stressed the Conservatives “don’t care about the journey on climate”.

Mr Ross said the First Minister should “just be honest” about the SNP’s position on oil and gas, which he claims is they “don’t and will not stand up for Scotland’s oil and gas industry.”

The Scottish Tories leader was told at one point to "reflect on his conduct" after repeatedly interrupting Mr Swinney. "I apologise again for calling the First Minister honest John," Mr Ross said.


Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar took Mr Swinney to task over NHS patients being treated in hospital corridors. Mr Sarwar said: “Imagine you or one of your loved ones lying on a trolley for hours. No privacy, no dignity, only pain and distress.”

Mr Swinney replied by attributing problems in the NHS to the consequences of Covid and Brexit. He also apologised to anyone who had experienced corridor care. However, Mr Sarwar said: “Week after week we hear apologies from SNP first ministers, and then we get apologies the week after and nothing actually changes.”

Mr Swinney said that an end to austerity was exactly what was needed to tackle problems in the NHS. 

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Wealth taxes

Patrick Harvie, The Scottish Greens co-leader criticised Mr Swinney for “trying to present the SNP as the only party committed to ending cuts and reversing austerity.” He said the only actual change other than raising income tax that the SNP have proposed is devolving taxes, not increasing them. 

Mr Harvie said that the only way to reverse cuts is by “raising significant revenue through those super-rich, who are hoarding the country’s wealth.” He called for a wealth tax, saying that the Scottish Greens have worked out the details. He accused Mr Swinney of “relying on us once again to do the work for him.”



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