There have been four major failures in cabinet office in Nicola Sturgeon’s first administration:
- Education Secretary Angela Constance;
- Health Secretary, Shona Robison;
- Rural Affairs Secretary, Richard Lochhead;
- and Justice Secretary, Michael Matheson.
All four of them are presiding over policies and departments that have signally failed to answer the most serious and urgent needs of Scotland.
Tomorrow at the Scottish Parliament, after being sworn in as First Minister of Scotland in her own right, Ms Sturgeon is to reshuffle her cabinet.
By rights, all four of these failing cabinet secretaries should be sacked or demoted; but the situation in one of their cases is now complicated for Ms Sturgeon.
Her Deputy Party Leader, the flinty hard liner [but far from astute] Stewart Hosie, SNP MP for Dundee East, announced on Sunday 15th May in a Dundee newspaper that he is separating from his wife, Shona Robison,
Today’s Daily Mail, 17th May, announced the alleged reason for the split – the Fabio Capello look-alike has been seriously frisky with an up-for-it freelance journalist on an in-house mag in the Westminster village.
The woman in question – said to be self-declaredly helplessly enamoured of all nationalist MPs – whom she reportedly thrills in seeing as ‘the Mujahideen of UK politics’ – has clearly walked this talk.
She was allegedly previously engaged in Ugandan relations with Hosie’s colleague, the famously, if loosely, amorous Angus MacNeil from Na h’Eileanan an Iar – until the end of 2015, before taking up with the SNP Deputy Leader, who is only too willing to hold the feet of his perceived enemies to the fire.
The Mail alleges that Hosie did not inform his wife of his offing until ‘hours’ after she had retained her Holyrood seat in Dundee East under two weeks ago.
Robison and Hosie are long time personal friends of Ms Sturgeon, who is far too canny a party manager to fall out with her Deputy but is highly likely to bolster the morale of the hapless Health Secretary by retaining her in cabinet in some other role.
There has previously been a rumour of moving Robison to education to replace Constance – which would be like swopping two structually unsound deckchairs on the deck of the Titanic.
Ms Sturgeon has also declared that her personal priority for the coming term is education, which would not be well served by such a change of disposition.
One must also ask why it has taken the First Minister so long to identify the degree of failure manifest in Scottish education – with official report after official report over several years formally calibrating that failure.
Whether the Robison-for-Constance move is what the First Minster actually does tomorrow will be known then – but she may now find it personally impossible to move out of office one of her failing high rankers, who will continue therapeutically to occupy a senior position.
If Hosie has let down his wife at a personal level, his action may prove a timely buttress for her political career.