Inverclyde Councillor pays tribute to Nicola Sturgeon branding her ‘Best politician that Scotland has ever produced’ as SNP looks for new leader

By Kieran Gallagher

Nicola Sturgeon’s departure as First Minister came as a surprise to SNP politicians, as well as rival party members. James Daisley, an SNP councillor based in Inverclyde was one of many politicians who were shocked by the resignation of Nicola Sturgeon.

He said: “We didn’t expect it, we didn’t see it coming. Nobody saw her standing down at this point, so it was a shock to everyone, even to the Inverclyde MSP and MP, it certainly came as a shock to them.”

James was elected in May 2022 and has been very vocal over the years about his pro-independence stance and respect for Nicola Sturgeon.

With the SNP currently in disarray, many would think that Nicola Sturgeon stepping down would hinder the prospect of an independence referendum. However, James seems to believe that a new person in charge could give the independence campaign the bounce that it needs.

He said: “Any change of leadership when you’re in a good position, is positive. The reason I believe that it’s a good thing is that she’s stepped down on her terms.

“Nicola is a very smart, intelligent woman and a fantastic politician. In my opinion, she is the best politician that Scotland has ever produced.

“If you listen to any speech Nicola has made over the years, she always says that a good leader knows when to step down, so if you take away the economy, which is a UK-wide issue, there is no controversy and we’re in a great place.

“When you hear her talking about independence, it has become all about her, so for me, it’s a positive thing. The person who steps into her shoes now hopefully will not have that stigma around them that Nicola had.”

With Sturgeon stepping down, the new First Minister of Scotland will be decided shortly. Kate Forbes, Humza Yousaf and Ash Regan are the three candidates who have put themselves forward to undertake the role. James had his say on who he thinks will be elected.

He said: “I haven’t made my mind up yet because I want to see what they have to say. Everyone has their personal views, which the public may have different opinions on, which is understandable.

“We have applied to get a listing in Inverclyde, so hopefully we get that, and we can have a chance to sit with them and ask them questions face-to-face, but at this moment in time, I don’t have a view on it.

“In terms of the future, for me, Nicola did the right thing, and I want the SNP to continue to do the right thing in the future. I feel if we pick the right leader, we could go down that road, and hopefully gain independence in the next couple of years.”

Despite Nicola Sturgeon having a tough couple of months with approval ratings dropping and the gender recognition law controversy, it still came as a major shock to politicians and civilians all around Scotland.

Sturgeon succeeded Alex Salmond as First Minister back in 2014, after the ‘No’ result of the Scottish Independence Referendum, becoming the first woman to hold the position. 

Although she wasn’t favoured by everyone, Sturgeon was always commended by both rival parties and SNP supporters during her tenure as First Minister for always sticking to what she believed was in Scotland’s best interest. However, after almost nine years at the helm of Scottish politics, Sturgeon felt it was in the best of the country for her to step down.

Sturgeon alluded to the fact that she was stepping down for personal reasons and not any suggested disinterest in politics.

She said: “I’m not expecting violins here, but I am a human being as well as a politician. Giving everything of yourself to this job is the only way to do it, the country deserves nothing less, but in truth that can only be done by anyone for so long.”

When discussing the country’s future and the prospect of Scottish independence, the First Minister seemed hopeful that the people of Scotland could unite over a common goal.

She said: “Individual polls come and go, but I am firmly of the view that there is now majority support for independence in Scotland, but that support needs to be solidified, and it needs to grow further if our independent Scotland is to have the best possible foundation.

“To achieve that we must reach across the divide in Scottish politics. My judgement now is that a new leader will be better able to do this.”

With no clear successor to Nicola Sturgeon, it will certainly be an interesting few weeks coming up in Scottish politics.

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