Party President Mike Russell, a resident of Argyll and Bute, has been appointed as SNP chief executive in the wake of the resignation of Peter Murrell, husband of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
By BILL HEANEY
The SNP’s National Executive Committee has today confirmed that Party President, and former Chief Executive, Michael Russell, pictured right, will oversee the operation of SNP Headquarters on an interim and voluntary basis.
Mr Russell will be in position for only a couple of weeks until a new party leader is in place, and the process of appointing a permanent Chief Executive is completed.
The election of a new party leader has been overseen so far by Lorna Finn, the elected National Secretary of the party, and the party confirmed that the issuing and counting of ballots is conducted by Mi-Voice, an independent company.
Business Convener Kirsten Oswald MP said: “Peter has been a key part of the team that has led the SNP to election win after election win and changed the face of Scottish politics. He steps down with our appreciation for his many years of service and great electoral success.
“As business convener, I called NEC to meet today to take responsibility for ensuring the overall operation of SNP Headquarters and ahead of the election of a new party leader.
“NEC unanimously backed Michael Russell, our widely respected party President and a former Chief Executive, to take responsibility for day-to-day operations on an interim basis until a new party leader is in place and the process of appointing a permanent replacement is complete. I am pleased to confirm that Michael has agreed to this.
“The leadership election has been overseen entirely by the National Secretary Lorna Finn who is responsible for all party elections, not the Chief Executive, and as a result these changes have no impact on the operation of the leadership contest. The ballots are issued and counted by Mi-Voice, a respected independent company and voting concludes next Monday.
“Throughout this period, I thank the hard working and diligent staff at SNP HQ whose commitment to our party is second to none.”
Russell is the person who came to Dumbarton to oversee the sacking of former Vale of Leven councilor Caroline McAllister as the prospective parliamentary for the SNP to take on the sitting Labour MSP, Jackie Baillie.
Caroline McAllister, who was replaced by friend of Sturgeon Tony Giugliano and Labour MSP Jackie Baillie, who beat him at the election.
McAllister was replaced by Tony Giugliano, the party’s national policy wonk and a member of the SNP inner circle in the Edinburgh headquarters headed up by Sturgeon’s husband, Peter Murrell.
Giugliano, who claimed to be resident in Dumbarton and to have long family connections in Helensburgh, was soundly beaten by Baillie who has been the MSP for Dumbarton, which includes Vale of Leven, Helensburgh, Rosneath and Lomond, since the first sitting of the Scottish Parliament 25 years ago.
The NEC approved this motion: “That the National Executive Committee authorities the Party President to take responsibility in a voluntary capacity for the operation of HQ and the work of HQ staff pro tem, pending the election of a new Party Leader, expresses its confidence in the National Secretary and her supervision of that election, the arrangements for which are robust and independent and calls on the candidates, their teams and all party members to complete the process in a positive and forward looking spirit.”