Humza Yousaf’s bid to become first minister was given a massive helping hand with the unanimous support of Dundee’s SNP politicians from council chambers to Holyrood and Westminster.
The frontrunner to succeed Nicola Sturgeon, who lives in Dundee, got a clean sweep of endorsements in the party’s biggest stronghold.
Scottish Government social justice minister Shona Robison, MSP for Dundee City East, became one of the SNP’s most high-profile figures to back him yet.
Days ago a source close to Mr Yousaf’s campaign indicated Ms Robison, a close ally of Ms Sturgeon, was going to pledge her support.
She said: “I’m supporting Humza because he has the experience for the top job, will unite our party, and grow support for independence.
“I believe that Humza is the only candidate who can continue the independence-supporting partnership in government.”
The SNP’s former drugs minister, Joe FitzPatrick, who represents Dundee City West, has emerged as a keen supporter of Mr Yousaf since the leadership contest began.
His Westminster SNP counterpart Chris Law gave Mr Yousaf the thumbs up early on, while Dundee East MP and former party leader Stewart Hosie has also come out in favour.
City council chief John Alexander is now backing him on behalf of the 15-strong group of SNP members – which includes Mr Yousaf’s wife, Nadia El-Nakla.
Mr Alexander said: “On behalf of our ambitious SNP group, I’m delighted to support Humza Yousaf.
“Humza has been clear on his ambition for Scotland. Prosperity for all through the delivery of our nation’s independence is the goal.”
Mr Yousaf emerged as the bookies’ favourite to follow in Ms Sturgeon’s footsteps after main rival Kate Forbes’ campaign got off to a turbulent start.
Ms Forbes lost influential backers after admitting she would not have voted in favour of gay marriage had she been in Holyrood at the time.
Mr Yousaf has received more endorsements from elected party officials than either Ms Forbes or outsider leadership candidate Ash Regan and has his eyes set on Bute House.
After he was given a huge boost in Dundee, he said: “As an adopted Dundonian, it is a real privilege to have the support of my friends and colleagues in the Dundee SNP group.
“My campaign is gaining huge momentum, and is winning support from across Scotland. Dundee is a magnificent city and is the blueprint for the independence movement.”
Launching his campaign on Monday, the Dundee-based heir apparent to Ms Sturgeon’s crown pitched himself as the continuity candidate who can continue her legacy.
However, he has faced a barrage of criticism over his record as health secretary and watched over record A&E waiting times during winter.
He was accused of breaking promises to cancer patients in Tayside.
Mr Yousaf cited his experience in government as a positive attribute and said he had been trusted by Ms Sturgeon to take on some of Holyrood’s toughest briefs.