John Swinney's coronation as First Minister could be derailed after a veteran SNP activist moved to enter the leadership contest.

Graeme McCormick is confident he can secure enough nominations from party members to trigger a race.

While Mr Swinney would almost certainly win any vote by a considerable margin, a battle would delay his move into Bute House until the end of the month.

READ MORE: Màiri McAllan: SNP did not want another 'bruising' contest

Anyone looking to enter the contest needs the support of 100 members from 20 different branches by tomorrow’s noon deadline.

According to the Yours For Scotland website, Mr McCormick, a retired Conveyancing solicitor who has served as Convener of SNP's Dumbarton branch, had secured the support of 40 members from 20 different branches by Thursday night. 

He was at the All Under One Banner independence rally in Glasgow Green yesterday with his nomination forms.

Glasgow Times:

He declined to comment when approached by The Herald on Sunday but indicated he was very confident he would meet the threshold.

The SNP’s ruling NEC has already said that if there is more than one candidate then the vote will run between 13 and 27 May.

It is likely there will be hustings across Scotland. There were nine during last year's six-week contest.

Mr McCormick made headlines last October when he described the SNP's plan to secure independence as "flatulence in a trance."

A spokesperson for Mr Swinney said: “John Swinney has pledged to unite the SNP and has made clear his determination to ensure there is open and respectful debate in the SNP on key policy questions.”

Humza Yousaf was also preparing to step down this week, but if a contest is triggered he will remain in charge of the government for another three weeks.

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Meanwhile, Scottish Labour has repeated its demand for the next first minister to call an immediate Holyrood election.

Mr Swinney could be the third SNP leader since the 2021 election.

Asked about the prospect of an early vote during his campaign launch on Friday, he said it was a “red herring” as the Scottish Parliament’s fixed terms meant there would be an election in 2026 whatever happened.

"We should see out the term. We should respect the fact we operate in a fixed-term parliamentary system where there can be a change of personnel within that period," he said.

Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie accused the SNP of hypocrisy. She pointed to comments made by Nicola Sturgeon in October 2022, when Rishi Sunak replaced Liz Truss.

“The governance of any country cannot simply be a revolving door that one party gets to pick time and time again who occupies the highest office in the land," the former first minister said at the time.

Calling for the vote, Dame Jackie said: “Scotland’s public services are in chaos and the ruling SNP is in disarray – but all they are offering Scots is yesterday’s man and serial failure John Swinney.

“When the Tories began their revolving door policy in Downing St the SNP rightly demanded an election – but now they are saying Scots should put up and shut up with a revolving door in Bute House.

“No Scot voted for First Minister John Swinney or the latest collection of SNP politicians that will make up the next cabinet.

“The SNP is denying democracy – that position is untenable.

“It’s clear for all to see that they are running scared of the verdict of the Scottish people."

An SNP spokesperson said the situation in Westminster with the Tory leadership change was not comparable to their leadership change in Holyrood.

They said: “Calls from Jackie Baillie for a Holyrood election are completely hypocritical.

"Just last month the Labour party appointed a new First Minister in Wales with no election held.

“There is a difference between Westminster and Holyrood electoral systems. We have a fixed term parliamentary system at Holyrood.

"In Westminster, MPs don't elect who the Prime Minister is; however at Holyrood, MSPs do elect the First Minister.

"There will be a vote in the Scottish Parliament, depending on who the SNP elect as it's new leader.”