After having “enjoyed approval ratings for eight years that most leaders would give their right arm for” (her words, not mine), the First Minister has resigned.
As Scotland’s face of the independence campaign, many Scots, particularly young people, will be shocked and somewhat disturbed to hear of the resignation of Nicola Sturgeon. In a speech mirroring that of a resigning Jacinda Arden a month ago, Sturgeon assured Scots that her decision was not a reaction to recent political pressures.
Her reasoning: “In my head and in my heart, I know that it is time.”
But it’s difficult to watch the resignation of Sturgeon from, in her words, “the very best job in the world”, after eight years, and not consider the recent controversies of Holyrood in the past months. From the debated Gender Recognition Act pushed back by Westminster, to the SNP’s constant focus on the possibility of independence, countless controversies surrounding the SNP have acted as a catalyst for Sturgeon’s downfall.
Gender Recognition Act Controversy
The Gender Recognition Act, despite being considered by Holyrood for six years, was considered extremely controversial, both by more conservative Scots and MPs in England. The living embodiment of the bill’s worst-case scenario, the Isla Bryson scandal, has undoubtedly done Sturgeon some damage, regarding her handling of the issue and the question of how to define a woman, and if these rules still apply when a woman is in prison.
Women’s rights groups, known to many as “trans-exclusionary radical feminists” (or TERFs for short), and LGBT+ rights activists clashed over the issue, and whilst for younger and more progressive voters, the choice between the two would be easy; older, SNP-voting fans of J.K. Rowling, could have easily been put off the SNP and Sturgeon personally due to this issue.
Despite this, Sturgeon claimed that she will “fight for women’s rights every day that (I) have breath in (my) body”.
Referendum blocks “a democratic outrage” according to Sturgeon
The prospect of an independent Scotland has always been pushed by the SNP, despite Sturgeon becoming leader immediately after Scotland rejected independence in 2014. A January poll this year indicated that 54% of Scots would vote against independence again if there was a referendum.
However, the blocking of the Gender Recognition Act in Westminster, and the sentiment regarding devolution that came with it, could easily amplify support for independence, with or without Sturgeon. Considering that independence was a cause that Sturgeon claims she dedicated her life to, we can’t expect the hopes for independence to leave Bute House with her.
Brig reached out to Evelyn Tweed, Stirling’s local MSP under the SNP for comment, but I received no response. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is yet to comment on the matter. However, Sturgeon now apparently owes Douglas Ross, spotted last week at his third job as a linesman for a Celtic game, opposite from a now-viral banner, £50 for losing his bet that she would resign before the end of her parliamentary term.
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