Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has promoted former Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing into the Cabinet as Secretary for the Rural Economy and internet connections.
Ewing’s old job has been bundled into Keith Brown’s huge portfolio as Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work.
Brown’s bulging in-tray now comprises; The Scottish Economy, Infrastructure Investment Policy, Scottish Enterprise, Trade & Inward Investment, Innovation, internationalisation, increasing productivity, Fair work and inclusive growth, Labour market strategy, Living wage, European Structural funds, Infrastructure Investment Policy, Consumer advocacy and advice, Employment policy, Trades Unions, Bankruptcy policy and Accountant in Bankruptcy (AIB), Business, Industry and Manufacturing, Cities, Energy and energy consent, Regional Economic Forums, Life sciences, Financial services, Low carbon economy, Renewable energy industries, Youth and Women’s Employment and employability programmes (in that order).
However, Brown will be assisted by Paul Wheelhouse as (junior) Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy.
And the Scottish Environment portfolio will have a dedicated Cabinet Secretary for the first time, with Roseanna Cunningham’s appointment to the new post of Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform.
Environment was previously held in the last parliament by the SNP’s Dr. Aileen McLeod, who was defeated in Dumfries and Galloway West by the Tories.
Prior to that Wheelhouse served as Environment Minister and previously had worked as a professional economist and economic development consultant for 19 years prior to his election in 2011. After private schooling in Edinburgh, he gained an MA Hons in Economics at Aberdeen University.
Sturgeon said: “My new Cabinet reflects my focus on the economy, with three key appointments to implement our economic agenda.
“Derek Mackay will take up the post of Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution, where I am certain that, following his strong performance as transport minister, he will continue the excellent work of his predecessor in overseeing the introduction of new tax powers.
“The economy portfolio will be enhanced with a new post of Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work to be filled by Keith Brown. He will build on his successful delivery of key infrastructure projects across Scotland and work intensively to secure investment into Scotland and support more people into work.
“And we will ensure that the importance of the rural economy is fully reflected in the Scottish Government, with the appointment of Fergus Ewing as Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity, recognising the key challenges faced by the rural economy and the vital importance of transport and broadband links.
“Finally, with climate change one of the defining challenges of our generation, I confirm Roseanna Cunningham will take up the new post of Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform. As well as driving forward work to allow Scotland to meet its ambitious climate change targets, Roseanna will have responsibility for implementation of our radical land reform agenda.”
But what Sturgeon didn’t say is also significant. She didn’t say anything about energy – in general, nor in the specific. And she didn’t mention the ‘F-word. (fracking), which will in fairly short order spurt up to the top of the party-political agenda with the Greens desperate to exploit’s Sturgeon ‘deeply sceptical’ position on shale gas from a ‘temporary moratorium’ into a full time ban.
See also: Scottish Energy News, 10 Apr 2016
Shale-sceptic Sturgeon to fire Fergus Ewing as Scottish Energy Minister over fracking
Promoting Fergus Ewing into the Cabinet removes a possible political obstacle for Sturgeon to negotiate over Green party pressure on fracking.
Patrick Harvie, MSP and co-convener of the Scottish Green Party, welcomed Fergus Ewing being moved away from the energy brief. He said: “His successor, Keith Brown, can expect further pressure from Greens and others to turn the temporary moratorium into a permanent ban to protect our communities”.