Nicola Sturgeon is What’s Right for Scotland (Opinion)


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By Rebecca Cook

Alex Salmond has officially stepped down as leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party and First Minister of Scotland. On November 19th, he was officially succeeded by his former Deputy: Nicola Sturgeon.

Sturgeon was the only person to put herself forward for the role of new leader of the party and country, but was nevertheless the correct choice. The first female First Minister is a popular choice amongst members, proven as she entered her first Conference as leader to a thunderous standing ovation from the audience. Her fellow MSPs agree: numerous have tweeted about their “delight” in voting for her, and Salmond has not been shy in declaring that she will be “outstanding”. Sturgeon will be very different to her predecessor: where Salmond was aggressive, sarcastic and rather divisive, she is humorous, approachable and generally more appealing to new supporters.

After Salmond’s lengthy run as First Minister, having someone new in charge will be a breath of fresh air. He was without a doubt an excellent leader. He ensured Scottish students had free education, fought for the removal of nuclear weapons from the country and achieved the majority vote for SNP in Scotland in both 2007 and 2011. After such high exposure of him during the referendum, it’s time for a new face of the campaign. Nicola Sturgeon as leader will give a new dimension to the SNP in the run-up to May’s general election.

Salmond’s successor has carried on some of his policies as First Minister. Sturgeon has the correct priorities of receiving the maximum devolution promised by Westminster and gaining seats in next year’s UK-wide general election, followed by winning the Scottish election in 2016. She is also carrying on the fight to remove Trident from the Clyde. Independence is of course still an aim, and one that Sturgeon has encouragingly informed members will happen one day.

However, she has vowed many pledges of her own that will please both current and prospective supporters of the party. Focus will be on improving the NHS and ensuring that crime is kept to its 39 year low. She has made it clear that the SNP will never go into coalition with the Conservative party – a clever move which appeals to anyone who disagrees with Tory policies. Choosing to focus on political equality is also intelligent: it is important to not alienate people who voted “No” in the referendum. In her inaugural speech, she promised to aim for a better country for both those who want independence, and those who do not.

We live in a world where women are still massively under-represented in Parliament. The last notable woman of political power was Margaret Thatcher, who left a bad taste for many Scots and Brits. Sturgeon has the opportunity to change this stigma about female politicians. People need proof that a woman can succeed in running a country or political party. If Nicola Sturgeon can give the public this proof, it will be a massive breakthrough for women in politics.

As leader of Scotland, Sturgeon appeals to a wide variety of people. She has stated that she is “passionate” about keeping tuition fees free for Scottish students which attracts younger supporters. Contrary to leaders such as Nigel Farage, who believes in scrapping maternity pay, she is likable to parents. She vows to introduce free childcare for three and four year olds, allowing parents to go back to work or education. She is relatable despite being in a position of power – unlike David Cameron who was educated at Eton, Sturgeon was brought up in Irvine, North Ayrshire and attended a public school.

Of course, we cannot forget the appointment of her new Deputy Leader, Stewart Hosie. He is undeniably the right person for the job: his policies of achieving max devolution and having another independence referendum in the future match with Sturgeon’s perfectly. As a pair, they could be more formidable than anything we’ve seen before in Scottish politics.

Nicola Sturgeon is the best thing for the SNP: she will be a successful leader who will be unanimously popular and with her, there’s a very high chance that we will be seeing the party stay in power in Scotland for quite a few more years.} else {