Profile of the new Scottish Cabinet 


WITH TWO PROMOTIONS and a few alterations to roles and responsibilities, this is the new Scottish Government cabinet. 

First Minister: Nicola Sturgeon MSP

Sturgeon has held high profile roles since the SNP ascended to power in 2007. Having served as Alex Salmond’s deputy, she was in the front line of the health brief and was a key figure in the independence referendum campaign.

Since Salmond’s resignation, Sturgeon has held the post of first minister, and was elected again by parliament following the SNP’s 2016 Scottish election success. 

Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills: John Swinney MSP

Swinney served for nine years in the influential financial brief for the SNP. 

Having pulled the budget and investment strings, he has been moved to lead the government’s education reform drive. 

Closing the attainment gap is presented as the government’s top priority, and Swinney will be tasked with demonstrating progress. 

Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution: Derek Mackay MSP

Mackay is one of two new faces in the cabinet. He held junior ministerial posts responsible for local government and most recently transport, where he was tasked with responding to the Forth Road Bridge closure. 

His new role includes the Scottish Parliament’s enhanced taxation powers.

Previously he was the youngest councillor in the country when he was elected in Renfrewshire aged just 21. 

Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport: Shona Robison MSP

Robison, a MSP since the opening of the parliament, has maintained her health and sport role from the previous administration. 

Robison held responsibility for overseeing the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, but her main ministerial work is focused on the National Health Service. 

Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform: Roseanna Cunningham MSP

Cunningham, promoted during the 2014 reshuffle, sees a change in her role from overseeing employment matters towards a mixture of environmental and economic affairs. 

Previously a SNP spokesperson on land reform, she is now the first cabinet secretary to hold a titled responsibility for the subject. The regulations being put in place on the Land Reform Act 2016 will be part of Cunningham’s remit, alongside national targets on climate change. 

Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs: Fiona Hyslop MSP

No change here. Hyslop has been a minister for culture since 2009. Seven years later and she will continue to hold the now senior cabinet position, which includes broadcasting and elements of international affairs. 

Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities: Angela Constance MSP

Constance was previously cabinet secretary for education – but has now been moved to a new role which includes the extra social security powers that are coming to the Scottish Parliament. 

She’ll also have here hands full with the ‘communities’ aspect of her new job, as it includes aspects of local government reform – which is set to be a big issue over the next five years.

Cabinet Secretary for Justice: Michael Matheson MSP

Matheson is another consistent cabinet secretary. He was appointed to the justice position in 2014 – which includes responsibility for Police Scotland and the prison system – and maintains that position.

Matheson inherited numerous challenges with the centralised police force, but has also set out ambitious plans to reform the judicial system with targets to reduce the number of people sent to prison.

Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work: Keith Brown MSP

Brown, previously in charge of infrastructure, investment and cities, received an expansion of his role in the most recent reshuffle. 

This takes in some of John Swinney’s previous responsibility – including industrial development and economic planning.

Brown will also have oversight on decisions concerning fracking, which is currently under a reviewed moratorium. 

Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity: Fergus Ewing MSP

Ewing has been promoted from his previous role in charge of business and energy. 

Now covering the rural economy, he’ll have his hands full with agriculture, forestry, fishing, and plans to expand towards 100 per broadband connectivity.

Pictures courtesy of Scottish Parliament TV/Scottish Goverment/Ewan McIntosh