Shona Robison — Useless MSP was forced to resign over NHS scandal

Humza Yousaf admits ‘challenging’ time for SNP

Shona Robison has now become Deputy First Minister, having entered politics more than 20 years ago. The 56-year-old backed Humza Yousaf throughout the bruising SNP leadership campaign and even got a mention during his victory speech with Mr Yousaf describing her “wise counsel” as “indispensable”. Here, takes a look at the history of Nicola Sturgeon’s “best friend” in Holyrood, the MSP who was forced to resign from a former role.

The MSP for Dundee City East, the area where Mr Yousaf lives, was long a familiar face in Ms Sturgeon’s cabinet. In 2014, she oversaw the Commonwealth Games when they were held in Glasgow in 2014.

The former Glasgow City Council worker became an MSP in 1999 and has previously served as health secretary and up until recently as social justice secretary where she was slammed for “railroading” the Gender Recognition Reform Bill.

But it was after serving as health secretary for three and a half years that she called it quits after she came heavily under fire in 2018. In her resignation letter, she described the role as “very challenging” and “all-consuming”.

Several sources, however, described her quitting as being a case of jumping before she was pushed.

Although the NHS Scotland workforce hit a record high during her tenure, she was criticised for several issues, including failing to end the bed blocking as promised and the unresolved issue of A&E wait times.

Ms Robison was also facing a scandal in her local health board after it emerged that NHS Tayside had used charity donations to buy new technology. The board had been struggling with several financial crises and had been propped up by loans from the Government.

When the scandal came to light, Ms Robison demanded the immediate resignation of the board’s chairman and chief executive. But for Labour this did not go far enough.

The now Scottish Labour leader and then shadow health secretary, Anas Sarwar, called several times for her to quit, too.

He said that she should “consider her own position”, adding that she “cannot wash her hands” of the scandal which took place “on her watch, in her own backyard”.

Unsurprisingly, this was not the first time Mr Sarwar criticised her grip on the health service. He described her as “so useless” with the Scottish NHS record being “so bad” two years prior in a damning tweet.

Amidst the 2018 hardship, Ms Robison was not criticised from within politics alone. The family of a Dundee man who killed himself after being refused admission to a mental health care centre also urged her to do the “horourable thing” and quit.

She eventually tendered her resignation as Ms Sturgeon reshuffled her cabinet, explaining that she had been facing difficulties in her personal life, having lost both her parents, gone through a health scare as well as “big personal changes”.

In the years before, she and the ex-deputy leader Stewart Hosie — who were together dubbed the “SNP power couple” — went through a high-profile split after 20 years together.

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At the time of her quitting, she said she was embarking on a “new chapter” and “new relationship”.

She made no mention of the controversies she had faced, adding: “I feel that I have reached a point in my life just now where I would be best to step down from a role in Government.”

After returning to the backbenches, she was made Social Justice, Housing and Local Government secretary in 2021 under Ms Sturgeon with whom she has always had a close relationship.

During the former First Minister’s farewell, Ms Robison was seen shedding a few tears. Ms Sturgeon also took to Twitter to congratulate her on her new top role in Holyrood.

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