John joined the SNP in 1979 at the age of 15 and has held a number of posts within the Party at local and national level. He has been the National Secretary, Vice Convener for Publicity and Deputy Leader before leading the party from 2000-2004.
John was elected as the Member of Parliament for North Tayside on 1st May 1997 in a seat that had once been the safest Conservative seat in Scotland.
On 6th May 1999 John was elected as the Member of the Scottish Parliament for North Tayside and was re-elected at the 2003 Scottish Parliament Election with an increased majority of 4,503.
At the election in May 2007, John was re-elected with 18,281 votes, and a majority of 7,584. John’s vote was the highest in Scotland.
On 5th May 2011, John Swinney contested the new seat of Perthshire North and won with 18,219 votes, and a majority of 10,353. John's vote was the second highest in Scotland, second only to First Minister, Alex Salmond MSP.
John is a member of the SNP Scottish Government and is currently the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth.