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Sturgeon placing indyref2 at heart of SNP election campaign

The First Minister insists that Scotland is closer to independence than ever.

Nicola Sturgeon is the first female first minister of Scotland (Jane Barlow/PA)
Nicola Sturgeon is the first female first minister of Scotland (Jane Barlow/PA)

By Katrine Bussey, PA Scotland Political Editor

More than three decades after she joined the SNP as a teenager, Nicola Sturgeon insists Scotland is now closer than it has ever been to independence.

The Scottish First Minister is using the current election campaign to push hard for a second referendum on the issue – despite voters having rejected this just five years ago.

In the 2014 independence referendum Ms Sturgeon was Deputy First Minister in Alex Salmond’s Scottish government.

Hours after the result was known, he announced he was stepping down as both First Minister and SNP leader, with Ms Sturgeon the obvious candidate to succeed him.

She became Scotland’s first female first minister in November 2019, as well as being the first-ever woman to lead the SNP, describing this as being the “privilege of her life” .

Ms Sturgeon, 49, joined the SNP at the age of 16 – a decision which was inspired by the then prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

She explained later that she became involved in politics because she had “a strong feeling it was wrong for Scotland to be governed by the Tory government we hadn’t elected”.

Having joined the SNP in 1986 she first stood for election in the 1992 general election when, running in the Glasgow Shettleston constituency, she was the youngest candidate in Scotland in the campaign.

She unsuccessfully stood again for Westminster in 1997, then two years later, when the first Scottish Parliament elections took place she was voted in, serving then as an MSP for the Glasgow region.

Ms Sturgeon was in the running to be SNP leader in 2004 when John Swinney – who is now her Deputy First Minister – resigned from the post in the wake of European election results.

(PA Graphics)

However, when Mr Salmond announced he was bidding to be party leader – having previously said he would not take on the post – she joined forces with him and became his running mate.

Party members voted them in as leader and depute, and with Mr Salmond based in Westminster at the time it was Ms Sturgeon who led the party at Holyrood, challenging the then Labour leader Jack McConnell at First Minister’s Questions.

In 2007, when the SNP came to power at Holyrood, she won the Glasgow Govan constituency and also became health secretary as the SNP formed a minority administration in Edinburgh.

Four years later the SNP won an historic overall majority in the Scottish Parliament – an unprecedented victory which led to David Cameron conceding to SNP calls for an independence referendum.

Ms Sturgeon was a key part of the team that negotiated the terms of the referendum and was also a prominent figure in the campaign for a Yes vote.

Since becoming First Minister she has followed through on her feminist principles, by installing the first ever 50/50 gender-balanced cabinet and also ensuring Holyrood passed legislation aimed at getting more women onto public-sector boards.

A formidable campaigner, after she took on the then Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael in a television debate ahead of the independence vote, one commentator said the “genteel Liberal Democrat” had been “disembowelled by a ferocious and merciless nationalist”.

Outside of politics she is an avid reader, who is known to make book recommendations to her one million followers on Twitter.

She married SNP chief executive Peter Murrell in 2010 and the couple have no children, although Ms Sturgeon revealed in 2016 that she had suffered a miscarriage in 2011, describing it as a “painful experience” for the couple.



From Belfast Telegraph