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SNP leader facing calls to step aside

SNP leader John Swinney is facing calls to step aside by former MPs and ex-deputy leader Jim Sillars.

The election result, which saw the SNP plummet from 47 MPs to just nine, came after a torrid year in which the party saw police investigations into its finances, the collapse of coalition with the Greens and three leaders at the helm.

Amid growing concerns over party finances in 2021, then MP for Dunfermline and West Fife Douglas Chapman resigned as treasurer in frustration at having “not received the support or financial information” to fulfil the role.

The party’s then chief executive Paul Murrell — partner of then leader Nicola Sturgeon — has since been charged with embezzlement of party funds.

Now, having stood down from Parliament, Mr Chapman has called for returning leader Mr Swinney to step aside in favour of Kate Forbes or Stephen Flynn.

He told the Herald newspaper: “I think it’s time to really clear the decks and use the next 700 days to make sure there is a pro-independence government in Holyrood come 2026.”

In an open letter to members calling for change in more robust terms, Mr Sillars directed his ire at Ms Sturgeon and Mr Murrell, but stated members “have cause to repent.”

He added: “You made the mistake of believing that if you openly criticised the ineptitude of the Scottish government, you were damaging the idea of independence, when in fact by not calling them out that is exactly what you were doing.”

Demanding members force a leadership “clear-out,” he continued: “It is a responsibility you cannot escape.

“Another 2024 beckons in 2026 if you dodge it. And if you dodge it, you will be dealing what could be a fatal blow to independence.”

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