SNP accused of 'cronyism' after shock appointment of former boss

SNP accused of 'cronyism' after shock appointment of former boss

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GB News
George Bunn

By George Bunn

Published: 22/12/2023

- 15:42

Mike Russell served as president of the SNP from 2021 till October 2023

The SNP has come under fire after approving the appointment of its former president as chairman of a Scottish Government-funded quango examining land reform.

Mike Russell, who served as president of the SNP from 2021 till October 2023, has been appointed to the Scottish land commission.

The appointment was approved by 64 votes to 54, thanks to the backing of SNP and Greens MSPs.

He is set to advise Scottish ministers on their agenda of breaking up the country’s large sporting estates to make land ownership more diverse.

Mike Russel

Former SNP President Mike Russell


Russell stood down as an MSP at the 2021 Holyrood election after holding a series of positions in the party.

He was later appointed SNP president, until leaving the post earlier this month to take the land commission role, which has now been criticised by opposition MSPs.

Scottish Tory MSP, Stephen Kerr questioned his "suitability" as an "appropriate person to hold such a critical role."

He added: "On top of that there is the stench of cronyism and deep cynicism from the SNP to put forward this name at this moment, on the very last moment on the very last sitting day before the Christmas recess. Mike Russell has engaged in personal abuse as stock in trade for his style of politics. He has gone beyond the boundary of robust political debate."


\u200bFormer SNP president Mike Russell

Former SNP president Mike Russell


Another Scottish Tory MSP Douglas Lumsden said: "This is a bad judgment appointment that will not build bridges, but will sow division and be bad for our rural sector."

SNP’s land reform secretary Mairi Gougeon said the code of practice for the appointment ensured the "most able candidates" were recommended.

She added: "We have a process for these appointments. This is robust, fair, transparent and accountable.

"I therefore, welcome its recommendation in its report to Parliament that Michael Russell be approved as the next chair of the Scottish Land Commission."

The vote also saw Prof Deborah Roberts and Craig Mackenzie appointed to the commission’s board.

Mr Russell tweeted: "Grateful to @ScotParl for approval today of my appointment as chair designate of @ScottishLandCom after an open, competitive, independent process."

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