Alex Salmond was accused yesterday of sacrificing his Education Secretary in order to avoid a no-confidence vote in Fiona Hyslop which he seemed certain to lose.
The First Minister bowed to the inevitable and demoted Ms Hyslop rather than face defeat at the hands of opposition parties that were prepared to force his hand later this week.
Mr Salmond has previously said that he would regard any such move against any of his ministers as a vote of no confidence in his government, which would step down, potentially triggering a Holyrood election.
The threat had so far worked on budgets and the release of the Lockerbie bomber because the opposition feared that the SNP, which is in minority government, would be re-elected with more MSPs.
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