Nicola Sturgeon has said the campaign for Scottish independence could learn from her “show not tell” leadership during the coronavirus pandemic.
The First Minster argued that support for an independent Scotland has grown during lockdown as people have watched the Scottish Government’s decision-making with the powers it has.
In an interview with the Scotsman to mark her 50th birthday, Sturgeon said devoting all her attention to dealing with coronavirus has been “liberating” without the usual focus devoted to party politics.
“I have tried — in a way that I have never had to do with other issues — to strip the traditional rules of politics out of my decision-making,” she said.
“I have not weighed up decisions over coronavirus in terms of: What does this mean for my party? What does it mean for opinion poll ratings? What does it mean for the next election? What does it mean for what the opposition are going to say about me tomorrow or next month?
“I have tried to do everything with a very straight bat; to listen to the expert advice and apply best judgment.”
Sturgeon stated that the Yes movement “possibly has something to learn” from the fact SNP have stopped “shouting about independence” and are instead focusing on dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.
She said: “But the Yes movement possibly has something to learn about the fact that – as we have stopped shouting about independence, and shouting to ourselves about how we go about getting independence, and just focused on [dealing with the crisis] – it has allowed people to take a step back and say: ‘Well, actually that’s the benefit of autonomous decision-making’ and also ‘perhaps things would be better if we had a bit more autonomous decision-making,’ and to come to their own conclusions.”
Her comments came before the launch of a new party was announced by former SNP MSP Dave Thompson in an attempt to woo pro-independence voters for Holyrood’s regional “list” seats at next year’s election, arguing that votes for the SNP are wasted under the Scottish Parliament’s electoral system.
He tweeted that the new Alliance for Independence party would “ask all small indy parties to stand under our umbrella and unite to achieve indy”, adding that it would be a “formidable force”.
Sturgeon insisted that she wants the SNP “united” ahead of the 2021 election.
Asked about other pro-independence groups standing against her party, she said: “You can take it as read that, come the election, I will be saying to people: ‘Vote SNP with your first vote, and vote SNP with your regional vote as well,’ and I will be pointing to the fact that the one time we did win a majority was when we maximised the constituency and the regional vote.”
During the interview, Sturgeon said she was concerned about the taboo around menopause, adding: “Unlike the whole thing of having kids or not having kids, periods and other aspects of womanhood, I think there is still an inhibition when it comes to the menopause.
“It shouldn’t be as big a mystery to those of us about to go through it, but it is.
“You read so much about women feeling as if they are losing their mind and you think: ‘God, I am in a really responsible job; how am I going to cope if I get hot flushes in the middle of FMQs?’.”
On Sunday, the First Minister said she was “overwhelmed” by all the cards, flowers and good wishes she received for her birthday.
Speaking to the Scotsman, she said: “I am a bit perplexed as to how, suddenly, I’m 50.
“I think with politicians there must be something about living in four or five-year election cycles – suddenly four of them have gone past and that’s 20 years of your life.”
Sturgeon also revealed the one request she has made to her husband – a walk on the South Ayrshire coast in her father’s hometown.
“The only thing I have said to Peter I really want to do is go for a walk along the beach in Dunure. I spent a lot of my childhood there because it’s where my dad grew up and where my grandparents lived until they died,” she said.