9 favourite candidates to replace Nicola Sturgeon as SNP leader

Sturgeon is currently going nowhere, but who could replace her when the time comes for her to depart Bute House?

Kezia Dugdale shocked the Scottish political scene on Tuesday night by announcing her resignation as Scottish Labour leader in an exclusive interview with the BBC’s Brian Taylor. The resultant contest is shaping up to be a battle between newcomer Richard Leonard and MP-turned-MSP Anas Sarwar, although that could all change.

On the other side of Scotland’s political aisle, Nicola Sturgeon looks steady despite losing her majority last May and suffering heavy losses in June’s snap election. That said, she will not be around for ever; who are the favourites to replace the new Queen of Scots?

1. Humza Yousaf

The young, charismatic Yousaf has been an MP since 2011. His rise in the party has been quite significant, going from a parliamentary liaison officer to then first minister Alex Salmond, before becoming Minister for Europe and International Development. Then, following last May’s Scottish election, Yousaf was reshuffled to the role of Minister for Transport and the Islands.

His odds with PaddyPower are 5/2, according to Oddschecker.

2. Stewart Hosie

Yousaf and Hosie share the favourite position on this list, which is somewhat surprising considering that Hosie is not even an MSP. Hosie instead serves the SNP in the House of Commons, having been an MP since the 2005 election. He was also recently Deputy Leader of the SNP at Westminster, but has since been replaced by Aberdeen North MP Kirsty Blackman.

With Hosie not even an MSP and no longer in a leadership position, it is rather perplexing why his odds to replace Nicola Sturgeon are so short (5/2).

3. Derek McKay

McKay served as Transport Minister before being replaced by Yousaf in 2016, but is now the Scottish government’s Finance and Constitution Secretary. He is responsible for delivering the government’s budget, and his odds with PaddyPower are 7/1.

4. John Swinney

Deputy first minister John Swinney was previously the government’s Finance, Constitution and Economy Secretary before being moved to Education Secretary after the 2016 election. Nicola Sturgeon said that Swinney’s change in job her government's commitment to the issue, according to the BBC. His odds currently stand at 8/1.

5. Mairi Black

Two other SNP figures join Swinney in the 8/1 spot. Mairi Black made history in 2015’s SNP election landslide by becoming the youngest MP in modern times. She is a vocal opponent of austerity and strong critic of the Westminster system, and made the headlines following her passionate 2015 maiden speech, which now has three quarter of a million views on YouTube.

6. Shona Robison

Also on 8/1 is Health and Sport Secretary Shona Robison. Robison has been a member of the Scottish parliament since its beginning in 1999, having first been elected as a top-up MSP in that year before becoming the MSP for Dundee East in 2003.

The Courier has recently reported that Scottish Labour has called Robison “out of her depth and out of ideas” following missed waiting targets in NHS Scotland.

7. Angus Robertson

Robertson served the MP for Moray right up until he was voted out of parliament in June’s snap election. Robertson’s defeat epitomised the election north of the border: the Tories surged in rural constituencies and the SNP fell back. He is no longer a parliamentarian, but could he be planning comeback – this time as an MSP – in the 2021 Scottish parliament elections? His odds with PaddyPower stand at 12/1.

8. Keith Brown

Brown was first elected in 2007 and now serves as Scotland’s Economy Secretary.

Like Robertson, his odds are 12/1.

9. Michael Matheson

Matheson’s odds are also 12/1, and this SNP MSP currently serves as the country’s Justice Secretary. He has been a member of the Scottish parliament since 2007, an election in which the SNP gained seats and formed their first minority administration.

The full list of odds can be found here on Oddschecker. All odds are accurate as of 31st August.

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