What marks for Nicola Sturgeon on First Minster's report card?

Sturgeon has becoming the longest-serving First Minister since Scottish devolution.

The successes and failures for Nicola Sturgeon as she becomes longest-serving First Minister STV News
Nicola Sturgeon is off sick this week with Covid.

The Scottish Government had planned to start publishing its independence plans this week – setting out the WHY of independence, making their case.

But the First Minister is off sick with Covid – she said in a tweet she’d been knocked for six, she has lost her voice.

So they will have to wait. They won’t do it next week because of the Queen’s Jubilee so it will be the following week.

And that’s just for these papers – not the Referendum Bill that’s still being worked on, particularly the legalities, because it’s not like the last time when there was a Section 30 order devolving the powers from Westminster.

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But looking at Nicola Sturgeon’s time as longest-serving First Minister – the big thing has been Covid, her handling of that was generally well received by voters. On the telly almost every day, she was cautious and reassuring.

Her standing in the polls reflects that. The YouGov poll in The Times today suggests just over half of Scots think she is doing a good job – that soared to 75 per cent during the pandemic. She has been big on equality with a gender-balanced cabinet, trans rights and the Scottish Child Payment tackling child poverty.

But there are questions marks over delivery – not just the two ferries, but more generally on the economy, and in health care where the NHS was already creaking before the pandemic, and on education and closing the attainment gap which has gone nowhere near as far as she had hoped.

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Nicola Sturgeon’s biggest success has been in winning elections, more than anyone else in Scottish politics, and she survived the Alex Salmond scandal and a split in her party.

Many say she has been blessed by poor opponents, but that ignores the fact that Ruth Davidson transformed the Scottish Conservatives and that Anas Sarwar is probably the best Scottish Labour has had since Jack McConnell.

Since 2007, and even more since Nicola Sturgeon took over in 2014, the SNP has increasingly looked like the natural party of government in Scotland; but the biggest, toughest challenge will be to deliver another independence referendum, then win it.

As Bernard Ponsonby says in his analysis on the STV News website, it’s a legacy yet to be written.