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NEWS STORY

Leading Scotland onwards

Earlier today, the First Minister, Humza Yousaf indicated his intention to stand down as SNP Leader and Head of Government. As others have done, I want to wish him, Nadia and the girls all the very best for the future.

I've known Humza for almost twenty years and came up through the SNP's youth wing alongside him. He is a fundamentally decent guy who wears his heart on his sleeve and gives maximum effort to whatever challenge lies in front of him.

The nature of political resignations means that there will be much analysis and commentary on his legacy, often from people who barely know him or are simply giving their latest hot take whilst filing several hundred words to their Editor with a looming deadline.

The fact is, Humza inherited leadership of the SNP at what was without doubt the most challenging time our party has faced in modern times. Internally and externally, he has been firefighting since day one - and doing so with the humility, good nature and grace that those who know him best would expect.

The passing of time will allow folk the ability to look back at his tenure in office, the seismic signal his election as First Minister sent about what kind of country we are, and the values he demonstrated in his actions as First Minister - both at home and abroad.

The SNP will now embark on a process of choosing Humza's successor to lead the Government and the party. We have been fortunate to be in Government for some seventeen years, not by luck but because we have repeatedly earned the trust of the people of Scotland at successive elections. We must never lose sight of that fact, and remember how we achieved that, often in the face of huge adversity.

It would be foolhardy to think these are not challenging times for the SNP and the coming days will doubtless be dominated by colleagues having their own say on what direction we move in next. I have no great desire to add to that and will get behind whoever emerges as our next Leader.

One of the greatest benefits of doing regular door knocking is having a sense for where our supporters, and the electorate at large are at politically. In Glasgow East, you've been clear with me. Your priorities are focusing on what matters - family finances and dealing with the cost of living, improving public services and standing up for the values we cherish as a society.

The message on the doorsteps has been crystal clear - the SNP needs to get back on track, move away from the drama and, instead, reflect the priorities people care about. That's the test of the coming weeks for the SNP - I hope it can rise to that challenge.