WITH the final list of ministers announced yesterday, the First Minister unveiled a new team of senior SNP politicians poised to dominate Scottish public life for years to come.

Nicola Sturgeon’s new team is also one of the few gender-balanced governments in the world. Six of the 12 strong Cabinet are women, while women fill seven of the 14 ministerial posts.

The last of the appointments was unveiled, perhaps not co-incidentally, on the day former SNP minister Mark McDonald was suspended from the parliament without pay for a month for inappropriate conduct towards women.

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For Sturgeon, having a fully gender-balanced team is a sign she wants to set a good example to public bodies and this in a year which has seen women’s place in politics and society take centre stage following high profile sexual harassment scandals and the #MeToo campaign.

The development follows the passing of legislation in the Scottish Parliament aimed at ‘shattering the glass ceiling’, requiring equal representation of women on public sector boards in Scotland.

MSPs voted by 88 to 28 in favour of the Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Bill, which was backed by all parties except the Scottish Conservatives.

The new law sets a statutory objective for women to make up 50% of public sector board members by 2022. It will apply to the Scottish Police Authority, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, health boards and enterprise agencies, as well as colleges and universities.

It’s also highly significant that seven of the nine new ministers – Kate Forbes, Gillian Martin, Claire Haughey, Mairi Gougeon, Ash Denham, Ivan McKee and Ben Macpherson – were first elected to Holyrood just two years ago.

Their promotions are personal milestones for them but also signal a generational change in the SNP politicians who are likely to dominate politics in the years and decades to come.

Professor Sir John Curtice of the department of politics at Strathclyde University, explained: “We are beginning to move into what we might call the post-devolution generation.

“There is a feeling that perhaps in two years the First Minister may be able to identify from her ministerial team one or two people who might be promoted to the Cabinet and if she is to find them she’s got to do it now. “

Eyeing up the challenges for the near future, the First Minister will be hoping she will have put in place a Cabinet and ministerial team who can help her run the country smoothly, fairly and effectively as well as helping her win a second independence referendum should one be held before 2021.

If that vote is not to happen before the next election she will want her team to be able to deliver a fourth term in power at Holyrood for the SNP in May 2021– and a parliamentary group large enough to ensure a pro-independence majority.

A further element in the reshuffle may also be the matter of finding someone to succeed her when she decides to stand down.

Having served in government since 2007, the First Minister may be wondering whether she will want to continue in the top job even should the SNP win a fourth term.

“There’s no obvious successor at the moment,” said Curtice. “Perhaps Humza Yousaf [who has been promoted to the Cabinet moving from Transport Minister to Justice Secretary] but former Economy Secretary Keith Brown is presumably now out and Mike Russell, who has joined the Cabinet, may not be popular enough in the party.

“I think there is an issue there. There isn’t anyone there at the moment who has proven themselves as a potential successor. However, things change and back in 2005 there was a feeling Nicola wasn’t good enough.

“For those going into Cabinet now for the first time there is now an opportunity for them to prove they can operate at the very highest level.”