SNP stalwart Michael Russell has stepped down from his role as the party’s president after a three-year tenure just weeks after being re-elected into the role. His resignation follows a challenging period for the party marked by the departure of former first minister Nicola Sturgeon and an ongoing financial investigation.
Mr Russell, who assumed the interim chief executive position in March 2023 following Peter Murrell’s resignation after more than two decades in the role, is making a significant departure from Scottish politics.
Reacting to the news, 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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“But many people will question whether someone so partisan and tribally devoted to Humza Yousaf’s party is the right person to lead the Scottish Land Commission.”
The seasoned politician, recommended for the position of chairman of the Scottish Land Commission, will undergo scrutiny by the Scottish Parliament for final approval of his appointment. Russell, who joined the SNP in 1974, began his political journey by becoming the party’s first full-time chief executive two decades later.
His extensive record includes being elected as a list MSP for the South of Scotland in 1999 and later representing Argyll and Bute until his retirement in the 2021 Scottish Parliament election.
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Having held various ministerial positions in the Scottish Government from 2007 to 2021, such as environment minister, Education Secretary, and Scotland’s Brexit secretary, Russell has been a key figure in the SNP.
Earlier this year, he remarked that the party was undergoing its most significant crisis in 50 years and expressed skepticism about the immediate achievability of independence.
In acknowledging Russell’s departure, First Minister Humza Yousaf expressed gratitude for his “outstanding contribution” to the party.
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