Leader: Nicola Sturgeon must find right balance

Nicola Sturgeon could be First Minister for years to come. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Nicola Sturgeon could be First Minister for years to come. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

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CONGRATULATIONS to Nicola Sturgeon, now formally elected nemine contradicente, as her own legal profession would say, leader of the Scottish National Party.

Next week, she should become the first woman to be Scotland’s First Minister. It took two-and-half centuries before Westminster welcomed its first woman prime minister, almost a century for the SNP to choose a female leader, and now the Scottish Parliament should elect its first woman First Minister a mere 15 years into its modern incarnation.

Thus Ms Sturgeon has already earned a place in history, and there should be nothing but a warm welcome to that. That there has been absolutely no comment at all, unless in some of the darker recesses of the internet, on her gender qualifying in any way her fitness for Scotland’s top political post demonstrates a maturity of Scottish democracy of which the nation can be proud.

It was also heartening to hear her say that competent governance of Scotland was one of her prime aims. For far too long, politics north of the Border have been dominated by the constitution, eclipsing all else. Of course, Alex Salmond, now departing to the back benches, would protest that he and his ministers have been getting on with everything else.

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But it would also be true to say, and we suspect he would admit himself, that much needs to be done to restore Scottish education to the status it once enjoyed as an example admired by the rest of the world. Too many pup­ils leave school inadequately equipped for the world of work, even to the extent that many cannot read, write, or count to the standards sought by employers.

The health service has to be in a state of constant evolution, ever reaching for higher standards, to meet changing demands of medical and health care. Scotland also has the paradox of producing some of the best food and drink in the world but also having far too many people with the
worst diets and drinking habits.

It is hard to see how acquiring control of all taxes or all the other apparatus of an independent state is a necessary pre-condition for dealing more effectively with these issues. Of course, Ms Sturgeon has said she will not cease to strive for independence, but by emphasising competent governance as a major priority she has indicated that she will not use the lack of independence as an alibi for failure to make progress in these day-to-day matters which surely are the pre-occupying concerns of the majority of Scots.

She will have to get the balance right of getting on with making a more successful and fairer Scotland with the party aim of campaigning for independence. It was also good to hear her speak out against the imposing of views and the berating of opponents in political debate. Scotland’s parliament was always intended to be more consensual than confrontational. If that can be Ms Sturgeon’s hallmark, she may be First Minister for many years to come.

Prestwick plan ready for take-off

Has Donald Trump come up with, well, a trump card for Prestwick? Having bought the nearby Turnberry hotel and golf course, he is now on his way to making the failing airport his own as well.

He says he will use it as a base for his aviation operations in Scotland, which means that when he flies here from America to inspect what will apparently

become a significant golf resort at Turnberry, that’s where he will land, perhaps using his Sikorski helicopter to jaunt about the country from Prestwick.

That in itself does not mean an awful lot of work. But if his belief that it will also become a destination for private jets bearing rich golfers from around the world turns into reality, then that

becomes more significant.

Private jets are much more dem­anding of ground services than are commercial airliners – not just for servicing the aircraft but also for stocking it with all the fine things that private jet owners like to have as they soar above the hoi polloi.

His investment in Turnberry also seems to have been raised up to stratospheric levels – £250 million rather than £100 million to be spent. And if he does spend that, then he is going to need the kind of custom that can afford private air travel, and the hundreds of them that he mentioned, in order to make a return.

It would be fair to say that Mr Trump’s relationship with the land of his ancestors has been turbulent.

So we very much hope that this is not just the familiar Trump hyperbole that can lead to a big letdown. At least it does sound a much more realisable vision than that of a spaceport, provided, that is, nobody seeks to build a nearby wind farm.

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