THE SNP government should consider a reshuffle ahead of the expected 2024 General Election, Nicola Sturgeon’s former chief of staff has said.

Speaking to the BBC on New Year’s Day, Liz Lloyd said the SNP was facing its most difficult year in two decades – and that party leadership should “look at making some changes”.

She told the World at One programme: "This is probably the hardest year the party has faced since maybe 2004/2005.

"It needs to switch the narrative in Scotland from one of Labour gaining to one of the SNP fighting back – and being seen to credibly fight back.

"It is very much struggling to get its own message across. It has an opportunity. There is time ahead of a General Election to do that but it needs to do that really quickly."

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf delivers New Year message to independence supporters

Lloyd, who stepped back from politics after Sturgeon’s resignation earlier in 2023, said there were “small rumblings” within the SNP under its new leader, Humza Yousaf.

However, the former chief of staff said Yousaf was not facing an immediate risk of challenge to his leadership.

"Humza Yousaf has had nine months to clear the decks of policies that were left over from the Nicola Sturgeon time – issues which were causing him difficulty," she told the BBC.

"He now has, ahead of the election, an opportunity to say 'this is my agenda, this is what I'm about' – and deliver on it so that people can make a judgment on it."

Lloyd added: "I think they need to look at making some changes – maybe a small reshuffle – things that put the SNP back on the front foot which it very much hasn't been for the last nine months."

Lloyd (below, left) said a challenge for the SNP going into the next General Election was the perception that Labour would win, removing the Conservatives from power.

The National:

"What's working for Labour at the moment is that there is a perception that Keir Starmer will be able to form a government," she said.

"It's less about what policies Labour are putting forward or the credibility of the Labour party in Scotland. It's more about, how do we make sure we don't have a Conservative government any more.

"People tend to look to see if there's an opportunity for change – that opportunity wasn't there in 2015, 2017 and 2019 and they may think it is this time."

Polling has suggested that the SNP maintain a narrow lead over Labour in Scotland, but they could see their seat total at Westminster slashed.

Responding to Lloyd's comments on social media, SNP MP Joanna Cherry said: "For some reason this brings to mind Clement Attlee’s famous comment to Harold Laski – 'I can assure you there is widespread resentment in the party at your activities and a period of silence on your part would be welcome.'"