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Swinney survives Holyrood no confidence vote

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John Swinney: ‘dedicated’

Education Secretary John Swinney has survived a no-confidence vote at Holyrood over the school results row.

The motion, tabled by Labour, was defeated as expected, by 67 votes to 58.

The Conservatives and Lib Dems called supported the motion. But the conditions attached to Mr Swinney’s U-turn was enough for the Scottish Greens to back the SNP in the vote.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Mr Swinney was “one of the most decent and dedicated people in Scottish politics” and had shown humility in admitting to making a mistake which he had fixed.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard led the debate in which there were repeated accusations that Mr Swinney had dithered over making a decision on correcting the errors in the school marking system.

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Mr Leonard Mr Swinney “only jumped to action when his own job was on the line”.

Scottish Conservative group leader Ruth Davidson said there had been “repeated warnings” about the exams moderation issue, saying Mr Swinney “could see the car crash coming and didn’t act”.

Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie said the education secretary had made a “massive error of judgement”.

He said: “John Swinney knows in his quieter moments that he should go.”

After the debate, Mr Leonard issued a statement saying: “John Swinney refused to put his confidence in Scotland’s school students and teachers – but tonight the SNP and the Greens expressed confidence in John Swinney.  

“We moved this motion not out of retribution, but out of our duty, to the school students and teachers the Education Secretary disregarded and disrespected, to say we have no confidence in him to sort out the mess he created. 

The Tories also issued a statement saying John Swinney has now survived a number of education scandals:

·         The latest SQA exams fiasco.

·         The blended learning u-turn.

·         Years of falling PISA standards.

·         The Named Persons u-turn.

·         Ongoing subject choice limitations.

·         The P1 testing debacle.

·         Dropping the Education Bill.

·         Widespread multi-level teaching.

·         Failing to reduce the attainment gap.

·         Hundreds of teacher vacancies every single year.

Ms Davidson said: “For parliamentary responsibility to work, the sanction must fit the scale of the failure and this was the biggest exams failure in the history of devolution.

“The scale of this failure is to such a degree that it prompts the question – if this isn’t a resignation matter, then what is?”

Comment: Ms Sturgeon could do worse at a critical time for her government to refresh her Cabinet

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