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Local MSP John Swinney Could Face Vote of no Confidence

Photo Credit: Ninian Reid

The Scottish Conservatives, backed by the Scottish Liberal Democrats, are announcing their plans to lodge a vote of no confidence against, local MSP, John Swinney.

Perthshire North’s MSP could face the motion from the opposition parties after the Scottish Government refused to publish legal advice from the Alex Salmond case on more than one occasion.

Leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Douglas Ross said: “We are giving the Scottish Government one last chance to be transparent and respect the will of the Scottish Parliament.

“Twice, opposition parties united to call for the legal advice to be released. The cross-party Holyrood committee have pleaded with the government to produce it. The government said they would listen, but they clearly have not. The legal advice remains hidden”

Mr Swinney said that legal advice is not usually released since it sets the precedent that the provider of the advice might offer a biased opinion in fear that confidential information will become public.

Responding to the vote calling to release the advice back in November, he explained: “We need to take the necessary time to consider these issues and to formulate a proper response to the decision that Parliament took a few weeks ago.”

The legal advice issued to the government is sensitive because it is suspected that it may have recommended against pursing a legal battle with the former first Minister Alex Salmond.

This episode comes as after Mr Salmond was found not guilty in 12 charges of sexual assault and not proven in another.

On Friday he appeared in front of the ‘Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints’ as a witness to argue his case.

The committee is investigating ‘the actions of the First Minister, Scottish Government officials and special advisers in dealing with complaints about Alex Salmond, former First Minister.’

Here he argued: “…the case was continued in the knowledge of the First Minister against that legal advice, that would be a breach of the ministerial code”.

Now the motion poses as a greater threat to Mr Swinney with the support of the Liberal Democrats.

Their leader, Willie Rennie, said: “Liberal Democrats will support a motion of no confidence if John Swinney continues to flout the will of parliament.

“There is a simple way for John Swinney to avoid another no confidence vote and that is to release the legal advice as parliament has twice made very clear it expects him to do.”

However, Mr Swinney has won the favour of parliament before in a prior vote of no confidence after the handling of exam results during the pandemic.

The standing orders of the Scottish Parliament explain: “Any member may give notice of a motion that the Scottish Government or a member of the Scottish Government or a junior Scottish Minister no longer enjoys the confidence of the Parliament.”

However, the coalition between the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish Conservatives have said they will not go ahead with their motion if the legal advice is issued before the end of Monday.

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