Former Health Secretary Alex Neil has become the latest high profile SNP politician to announce plans to step down next year.
The decision by the Airdrie and Shotts MSP was revealed just a day after Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham also confirmed she would not seek re-election.
The growing list of SNP representatives planning to leave Holyrood already included External Affairs Secretary Michael Russell, Local Government Secretary Aileen Campbell, as well as former Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson, Highland MSP Gail Ross, former Government Strategy Minister Bruce Crawford, and Uddingston and Bellshill MSP Richard Lyle.
Mr Neil served as health secretary from 2012 to 2014, and subsequently as cabinet secretary for social justice, communities and pensioners rights, until 2016.
I can announce that I will not be seeking re-selection for the next @ScotParl election. It has been a privilege and a pleasure to have been an MSP for the last 21 years, especially since I became the MSP for Airdrie and Shotts in 2011. Full statement: https://t.co/jpV9fdAId1
— Alex Neil MSP (@AlexNeilSNP) August 23, 2020
If I’m right, that’s 11 of the 61 @theSNP MSPs ( approx 20%) standing down in 2021 & 6 of them are former or currents Cab Secs with a lot of experience between them. There could be more still to declare their intentions.
— mandy rhodes (@holyroodmandy) August 23, 2020
In a statement, Mr Neil said: “I have informed the convener of the Airdrie and Shotts SNP Branch that I will not be seeking re-selection for the next Scottish Parliament election in May 2021.
“It has been a privilege and a pleasure to have been an MSP for the last 21 years, especially since 2011 when I became the constituency MSP for Airdrie and Shotts.
“The people in this constituency are great, despite the many challenges we face.
“I was tempted to stand again as I love my constituency.
“After much soul searching, I have decided that to commit to another five years as an MSP would mean not having the time to pursue all the other things in life I want to do.
“I also owe it to my wife and family to spend more time with them. I have two beautiful granddaughters who miss me when I am away so often on parliamentary and constituency business. I want to spend more time with them.
Mr Neil added: “I have another eight months to serve out my term. My priorities during that time will be to help tackle the fall-out from the coronavirus pandemic in my constituency and to ensure that the new Monklands Hospital will be located in one of the two shortlisted sites in Airdrie and not at Gartcosh.
“More generally, I will continue to work full-time for my constituents up until I cease being their MSP at the end of March 2021.