Top 10 favourites to replace Nicola Sturgeon as first minister

Scottish Labour has a new leader. Could he replace Nicola Sturgeon? Or will her replacement be someone else?

10th - Stewart Hosie

Betting firm Ladbrokes offer odds of a Hosie premiership at 16/1. He has served as the SNP MP for Dundee East since 2005. In 2015, he won with almost 60% of the vote, but two years later he secured just 43% of the vote due to increased support for both Labour and the Conservatives. A Hosie leadership looks unlikely for several reasons, most notably the fact he is an MP and that looks unlikely to change any time soon.

9th – Michael Matheson

The charismatic Justice Secretary for Scotland has served in Nicola’s administration since 2014, and previously served as a Public Health Minister during Alex Salmond’s leadership. For SNP party figures looking for a relatively unknown fresh face, Matheson could be a compelling alternative. Ladbrokes also offer odds of 16/1 for Matheson to replaced Sturgeon as first minister.

8th – John Swinney

Swinney previously led the SNP to defeat at the 2003 election, something that could hinder his chances in a future leadership contest to succeed Sturgeon and become first minister. He is the current Deputy First Minister and Education Secretary, and also has odds of 16/1.

7th – Derek Mackay

Like Matheson, Mackay is not a household name and could be a fresh face who is fast gaining experience and prominence. He currently serves as Scotland’s Finance and Constitution Secretary, and with odds of 16/1, he is certainly one to watch.

6th – Mhairi Black

Mhairi Black was marked as one to watch as soon as it looked likely she would win her seat back in 2015. Several of her House of Commons speeches have gone rival, and she is known for her passionate, fierce rhetoric as a result. Black has regularly given interviews about her negative feelings towards the House of Commons as a place and an institution, suggesting that this rising star could someday make a switch to Holyrood. Her odds currently stand at 12/1.

5th – Humza Yousaf

The youthful, charismatic Transport and Islands Minister is a rising star in his party. With a few more years of experience, he could be one to put his hat in the ring if the opportunity emerges, however, he will probably be hoping that an incident where he drove his friend’s car without having the correct insurance – while he was Transport Minister – does not come back to haunt him, as reported by the BBC.

His odds also stand at 12/1.

4th – Angus Robertson

The fourth favourite to become Scotland’s sixth first minister is Angus Robertson. Back when Jeremy Corbyn was widely viewed as an ineffective Leader of the Opposition – oh, how times have changed – Robertson, who led the SNP in the Commons, was known for his powerful attacks on the Conservative government. Unfortunately for him, he lost his Westminster seat in June.

Could a political comeback – this time at Holyrood – be on the cards?

His odds are also 12/1.

3rd – Shona Robison

Scotland’s Health Secretary is currently the top SNP MSP to succeed Nicola Sturgeon as first minister. Robison certainly has the experience to lead after Nicola Sturgeon, but will her party want a familiar face to take over? Ladbrokes offer odds of 10/1 for a Robison leadership.

2nd – Richard Leonard

Last Saturday, Leonard was elected as the Scottish Labour Party leader in a clear shift to the left for the party. Leonard may be see as more a of a favourite than plenty of SNP MSPs and MPs, but he has a mammoth task ahead of him. Taking his party from third to first place in the next Scottish parliamentary election is going to be a struggle. His odds? 6/1.

1st – Ruth Davidson

The Scottish Tory leader is the current favourite to succeed Nicola Sturgeon. As the Leader of the Opposition, she certainly has a chance at getting Scotland’s top job, but pooling together enough support in the chamber to make that a reality would be a difficult task. Even if the Scottish Conservatives emerge as the largest party in 2021, a progressive, alternative coalition or alliance could be formed to keep the Tories out of power north of the border.

Ladbrokes offer odds of 5/1 for a Davidson first ministership.


All odds are accurate as of 23rd November and can be viewed here.

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