“Nicola Sturgeon has made her lasting mark on Scottish and UK politics”

Friday February 24th 2023


Lorna Slater, Scottish Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity, Lothian MSP and Scottish Greens co-leader writes her monthly column for Midlothian View.

Nicola Sturgeon has made her lasting mark on Scottish and UK politics and will finish on her own terms as Scotland’s most popular and longest standing First Minister.

In her resignation speech, she was honest, frank and reflective. She underlined both the great opportunities of her role, as well as the immense personal impact that comes from such an all-consuming job.

Her words will have struck a chord with so many, particularly with women who will have seen the way she has been treated and have recognised the double standards to which she alluded. Despite the knocks she has received for it, she has been proud to put her feminism at the heart of her politics.

Not only has she dealt with the demands and scrutiny of being a public figure, but she has also been forced to face a near-constant barrage of cruel and misogynistic attacks. Only last week, one well-known news outlet even went so far as to publish a cartoon of her having been decapitated.

This kind of abuse and toxicity has only intensified as our debates have become more antagonistic and the rhetoric has become more poisonous.

This climate of hostility makes it even harder to encourage women and other underrepresented groups into politics. Since I became an MSP, so many wonderful women have told me that they look on in horror at the way that women in the public eye are treated.

Despite this often hostile atmosphere, the First Minister has shown a real commitment and dedication to positive, progressive and collaborative politics.

She was at the centre of the Bute House Agreement between the Scottish Greens and the Scottish Government. It was negotiated over the course of a four month period and was overwhelmingly supported by the membership of both the Scottish Greens and the SNP, as well as the full Cabinet.

My Green colleagues and I are still committed to delivering on the bold, vital policies and values that were laid out in the Agreement. It was designed to be a five year programme and underpins the work I am doing as a Minister, as well as the priorities of the Scottish Government.

It has already allowed us to deliver big changes, such as free bus travel for young people, the 150% uplift in the Scottish Child Payment, the rent freeze and tenants rights work that is underway, and the more humane social security system that is being used to offset the punishing cruelty of Downing Street. Those things will not go away. We will continue to work together to build on them.

It is partially as a result of this record that the next First Minister will be very well placed to continue her work, both in terms of capitalising on support for independence and for building the kind of society that she has dedicated her career to working towards.

We all know that Nicola Sturgeon will be a very hard act to follow. She is formidable, strong and one of the best and most charismatic politicians of the devolution era. She is also a woman of many talents, and I wish her all the very best in what she chooses to turn her hand to next.

Having the opportunity to work with her in government has been an enormous privilege. I am grateful for her support and her friendship, and for the historic role she has played in Scotland and beyond. I am proud of what we have done together and am looking forward to building on her achievements and securing a fairer, greener and independent Scotland.

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