Michael Russell, SNP MSP for Argyll & Bute, has vowed to work even harder for the people of Argyll & Bute after leaving his post as Education Secretary in the Scottish Government.

Mr Russell said:

“It has been an enormous privilege to serve as a Scottish Government Minister in three different portfolios – Environment, Culture, External Affairs & the Constitution , and Education & Lifelong Learning – for the past seven and a half years.

“My five years as Education Secretary was a learning experience in every way, but I recently decided that, whilst I fully intend to stand again for Argyll & Bute at the Scottish Parliament elections in eighteen months time, I would not wish to go into Government for a third term given the demands of serving such a huge and varied constituency, as well as travelling the length and breadth of Scotland (and sometimes overseas) as a Minister.

“Nicola Sturgeon’s election as Scotland’s First Female First Minister was bound to produce an early reshuffle, so I took this ideal opportunity to step down at a time when a new Education Secretary could have the chance to establish herself in the run up to 2016, as well as bring a fresh approach and fresh ideas, to what is one of the most wide ranging and demanding of roles. Angela Constance will be great at the job and of course worked within the portfolio for several years. So it is time for the torch to pass to her.

“When I first became a Minister I was a regional member for the South of Scotland, though I have lived in Argyll for over 20 years. I was very fortunate to be chosen to succeed Jim Mather in 2011 and move seats, but that move brought many new responsibilities, not least the imperative to hold surgeries, visit constituents and attend events in every part of the county. That presents particular challenges, given that Argyll & Bute has a coastline longer than France, over 20 inhabited islands and on the mainland includes Kintyre, Oban & Lorne, Cowal and Mid Argyll – each of them bigger than many whole constituencies in other parts of the country.

“My greatest honour is to have been chosen to speak up for the people of Argyll and Bute in the National Parliament of Scotland. Serving them – all of them – was and is my first priority. It is what I have been doing and will go on doing. Indeed I am now going to work even harder for everyone here in order to live up to the extraordinary trust this area has placed in me and for which I am always grateful. “