Russell quits as SNP president weeks after re-election

Michael Russell
Michael Russell: 50 years in the SNP (pic: Terry Murden DB Media Services)

Michael Russell has resigned as president of the Scottish National Party, just weeks after he was re-elected to the role.

The former Scottish Government minister is taking on a job in land reform that is subject to the approval of the parliament.

Only a few weeks ago at the party conference he fought off an attempt by Graeme McCormick to unseat him.

He has been president since November 2020 and earlier this year stepped in as acting chief executive amid the high profile resignations in the party. 

Mr Russell served as an MSP until 2021 having been first elected in 1999, and is a former education and constitution secretary. He is is expected to become chairman of the Scottish Land Commission and said that his appointment had brought forward his plans to step out of frontline politics 50 years after he joined the SNP.

In a resignation letter to party leader and First Minister Humza Yousaf, he said: “I hope my contribution over the last nine months has helped to steady the ship.

“I am glad to see you now firmly in the vanguard of a whole new SNP generation which has taken over the key positions of responsibility in Government, Parliament, council chambers and the party.”

Mr Yousaf paid tribute to him as a “true stalwart of the SNP” and independence movement who is “a deeply respected and much-loved figure in our party, and rightly so”.

Earlier this year, Mr Russell said the party was facing its biggest crisis in 50 years. He also said he did not believe independence was achievable “right now”.

Opponents saw his resignation as a sign of further disintegration of the SNP. Scottish Conservative chairman Craig Hoy said: “It speaks volumes for the state of the feuding, scandal-ridden SNP, that Mike Russell would want to desert a sinking ship in favour of a cushy job with a Scottish government quango.”

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