Last week, the Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has reshuffled her Cabinet and Ministers in the biggest shake-up since the SNP came to power in Scotland in 2007.
The First Minister has been under some pressure to reshape her team, with several Cabinet Secretaries seen to have been under-performing.
Last week’s reshuffle has been notable for the number of heavyweight SNP politicians who are leaving the Cabinet. Most significantly, the Depute Leader of the SNP, Keith Brown, has left his position as Cabinet Secretary for the Economy in order to focus on his role as Depute Leader.
Nicola Sturgeon’s Cabinet is now a new mix of rising stars and experienced hands, which the First Minister will task with bringing forward some bold proposals – including a new public investment bank, a public sector bid for the ScotRail franchise, and robust regulatory interventions in public health and climate change.
Last week’s reshuffle, above all, has been about two things: legacy planning and having the best team on the field.
The First Minister has promoted a new generation of SNP politicians to prominent roles. No fewer than 7 of the 9 new Ministerial appointments are MSPs who were first elected in 2016. And the Cabinet now includes all the individuals that the bookies would characterise as frontrunners to succeed Nicola Sturgeon as the next Leader of the SNP.
There’s an imperative for the First Minister to have her best players on the field. Nicola Sturgeon has long said that she intends to revisit the prospect of a second independence referendum once there is greater clarity about the implications of Brexit.
This dynamic is the reason we have seen the promotion of SNP politicians who are seen as the most competent and assiduous political communicators in the Party. Following on from the Growth Commission Report in May that relaunched the economic case for independence, the reorganisation of the top team to put the best players on the field is just the latest in a coordinated series of steps to move the SNP to a campaign footing.
With the final Brexit deal possibly just a few short months away, the First Minister will hope that her new Ministerial team may just be the independence generation.