Page last updated at 11:11 GMT, Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Cabinet and ministers at-a-glance

A guide to who's who in the Scottish government.

Alex Salmond - First minister
Alex Salmond

Alex Salmond was already a high-profile politician when he made history after being elected as Scotland's first Nationalist first minister.

The Banff and Buchan MP became SNP leader for the first time in 1990, stepping down after 10 years but making a comeback in 2004, before winning the Liberal Democrat-held Holyrood seat of Gordon in the 2007 Scottish election.

As first minister, the one-time civil servant heads the devolved government and is responsible for policies, constitutional affairs and promoting and representing Scotland.

Nicola Sturgeon - Deputy first minister and health secretary
Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon became deputy SNP leader on a joint campaign ticket with Alex Salmond when he became leader for the second time.

As the party's senior figure in the last Scottish Parliament and with her boss in Westminster, the former solicitor boosted her profile through her weekly grilling of Jack McConnell at first minister's questions.

As well as serving as deputy first minister, the Glasgow Govan MSP's responsibilities under health include the NHS, mental health, pharmaceutical services and dentistry.

John Swinney - Finance secretary
John Swinney

John Swinney, who previously served as SNP finance spokesman in Holyrood, is seen as one of the party's key thinkers and strategists.

The former Nationalist leader, who joined the SNP as a teenager, pursued a career in Scotland's financial sector before entering parliament.

The North Tayside MSP has been handed a large and wide-ranging brief, which also includes the economy, the Scottish budget, local government and public service delivery.

Kenny MacAskill - Justice secretary
Kenny MacAskill (pic from the Scottish Parliament)

Kenny MacAskill, with his reputation as both a forceful and able speaker and a thoughtful and careful analyst, has never been afraid of calling a spade exactly that.

The Edinburgh East and Musselburgh MSP formerly worked as a senior partner in a law firm, served as SNP spokesman on the poll tax and was the party's justice spokesman in Holyrood.

His ministerial responsibilities take in a range of policy areas, from criminal law and sentencing policy to fire and rescue services and religious and faith organisations.

Mike Russell - Education secretary
Mike Russell

Mike Russell has been a key figure in the SNP for at least the last 10 years and has served as the party chief executive and strategist and aide to Alex Salmond.

He was promoted to the Scottish cabinet and given the education brief after having served as culture minister, a job which also saw him take responsibility for the SNP's planned independence referendum and other constitutional issues.

Mr Russell served as a South of Scotland MSP in the first parliament and returned to Holyrood in 2007 after failing to win a seat in the previous election.

Richard Lochhead - Environment secretary
Richard Lochhead (Pic from the Scottish Parliament)

Richard Lochhead, who is closely associated with Alex Salmond, became MSP for Moray following the death of Margaret Ewing.

As SNP rural affairs spokesman, the former North East Scotland MSP moved to ensure his party had a strong voice during European fisheries negotiations.

Mr Lochhead, a former Dundee City Council economic development officer, was also a convener of the Scottish Parliament's European committee.

Bruce Crawford - Parliamentary business minister
Bruce Crawford

Bruce Crawford's experience as SNP chief whip and party Holyrood business manager will stand him in good stead for his new role.

The former Perth and Kinross Council leader, now MSP for Stirling, also sat on the European Committee in the first parliament and was previously elected in the Mid Scotland and Fife region.

Mr Crawford oversees parliamentary affairs and government business at Holyrood and, although not a cabinet secretary, he does attend cabinet.

Fiona Hyslop - Culture minister
Fiona Hyslop (Pic from the Scottish Parliament)

Fiona Hyslop became the SNP's first education secretary after having been the party's spokeswoman on the subject in opposition.

She was later handed the culture post after a period of sustained opposition party attack on Scotland's education system.

Ms Hyslop, an MSP for the Lothians region, was also formerly in charge of SNP parliamentary business and served on Holyrood's social justice committee in the first parliament.

Jim Mather - Enterprise minister
Jim Mather (Pic from the Scottish Parliament)

Despite being a Holyrood newcomer in 2003, Jim Mather was handed a frontbench role, taking responsibility for enterprise and economy matters.

The MSP for Argyll and Bute, formerly elected in the Highlands and Islands region, previously worked as a chartered accountant before furthering his career in the IT sector.

Mr Mather also has responsibility for the economically vital areas of energy and tourism.

Keith Brown - Transport minister
Keith Brown (pic by Scottish Parliament)

Keith Brown has gone through a bit of a baptism of fire since beginning his Holyrood career after the last Scottish election.

Not only did he follow in the footsteps of SNP veteran George Reid as MSP for Ochil, he also came under pressure as convener of the parliament's standards committee during its consideration of the Wendy Alexander donations row and, as schools minister, had to contend with opposition criticism over SNP education policy.

The former marine took on the transport brief following the weather response row which led to the resignation of Stewart Stevenson.

Angela Constance - Skills minister
Angela Constance

Backbencher Angela Constance entered government in the wake of the re-shuffle prompted by Stewart Stevenson's resignation as transport minister.

The MSP for Livingston, who was also elected to Holyrood in 2007, is a former social worker and mental health officer.

Adam Ingram - Children and early years minister
Adam Ingram (Pic from the Scottish Parliament)

Adam Ingram is an experienced Scottish Parliament operator, previously serving as SNP deputy spokesman on finance and enterprise.

The South of Scotland MSP also sat on Holyrood's transport and enterprise committees during the first parliament.

Mr Ingram previously worked as an economic development consultant and worked for the family bakery firm during the 70s.

Shona Robison - Public health and sport minister
Shona Robison

Shona Robison, as SNP health spokeswoman, tackled the last Scottish Executive on issues including waiting times and NHS 24.

The Dundee East MSP formerly worked for the Glasgow City Council social work department, was previously deputy convener of Holyrood's equal opportunities committee and also served on the health committee.

The former North East Scotland MSP also convened the Scottish Parliament's cross-party group on refugees and asylum seekers in the first parliament.

Alex Neil - Communities and housing minister
Alex Neil (pic by Scottish Parliament)

Seen as a parliamentary bruiser, Alex Neil's high-profile as an SNP spokesman from the backbenches led opposition parties to refer to him as "minister for Newsnight".

The Central Scotland MSP's efforts saw him awarded with a bona-fide government role in communities and housing.

Mr Neil has been particularly outspoken on the banking crisis, and notably teamed up with Lib Dem Tavish Scott and independent MSP Margo MacDonald to urge the £12.2bn HBOS takeover, which later went ahead, to be put on hold.

Fergus Ewing - Community safety minister
Fergus Ewing

Fergus Ewing, part of the SNP family dynasty of the same name, has shifted to pastures new, having previously been Nationalist transport spokesman.

The former solicitor and current MSP for Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber was known for the large number of written questions he asked of ministers and was also one of the arch critics of the Scottish Parliament building project.

Mr Ewing also served as SNP finance spokesman under John Swinney's leadership and held places on several Holyrood committees, including enterprise and lifelong learning and rural development.

Roseanna Cunningham - Environment minister
Roseanna Cunninghamn (pic by Scottish Parliament)

Parliamentary veteran Roseanna Cunningham has landed her first ministerial gig, taking over Mike Russell's environment portfolio.

The Perth MSP, whose political tendencies earned her the nickname "Republican Rose", previously stood against Mr Salmond for the SNP leadership.

She came to her government job after serving as convener of the Scottish Parliament's environment committee and held frontbench roles with the SNP when the party was in opposition.

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