Covid Scotland: Nicola Sturgeon attacks critics of vaccine rollout and questions intelligence of opposition

Nicola Sturgeon has issued a fierce rebuke to critics of the vaccination rollout, claiming she assumed a “certain level of intelligence” among those listening to her.

Her comments follow accusations the Scottish Government had failed to meet the First Minister’s pledge made in Holyrood of having “given” two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine to all 40-49 year-olds by Monday.

Admitting she was going on a “rant”, Ms Sturgeon accused opposition politicians and journalists of not having a “certain level of intelligence” and failing to “attach context and common sense” to her words.

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The response was labelled a “Trump-style meltdown for the ages” by the Scottish Conservatives, who have also written to Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone asking her to ensure Ms Sturgeon “admits that her original statement was misleading”.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon arrives for First Minister's Questions at the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood, Edinburgh. Picture: PA

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Speaking at a Covid-19 briefing on Tuesday, the First Minister appeared irritated by a line of questioning around whether the Scottish Government had hit its milestone of giving second doses to all 40-49 year-olds following a statement to that effect in Parliament last month.

As of Tuesday, 77.3 per cent of that age group has had two doses.

Uptake is also slipping in younger age groups, with 19.4 per cent of 30 to 39-year-olds and 28.3 per cent of 18 to 29-year-olds not in receipt of a single jab.

Asked whether similar milestones for those younger age groups to be given two doses by mid-August and mid-September respectively were set to be met, Ms Sturgeon took aim at journalists and opposition politicians.

She said: “I kind of communicate at a level where I assume a certain level of intelligence on the part of people listening to me because I think that's justified.

"And I assume a certain ability to attach context and common sense to what I am saying.”

The First Minister clarified that her statement had meant all adults would be “offered” the vaccine, rather than having jabs in arms.

She said: “All I would say is if that is genuinely what people – journalists, opposition politicians – thought I meant, and that I had committed to that, without compulsory vaccination, I'm genuinely really surprised that there wasn't a clamour of questions … asking me how I was going to deliver that commitment.

“Surely we should all try to have grown up, sophisticated nuanced discussions, and the most important thing right now is not getting into some kind of 'dancing on the head of a pin' debate about what I meant when I used a particular word.”

The Scottish Conservatives were heavily critical of the First Minister following the briefing, stating her “hostile performance treats the public like fools”.

Party health spokesperson Annie Wells said: “Question after question at Tuesday’s Covid briefing got the full Nicola Sturgeon condescending eyeroll treatment.

“In a Trump-style meltdown for the ages, the First Minister claimed she was communicating at a more intelligent, higher level than the rest of us.

“This kind of hostile performance treats the public like fools.

“Her defence for missing a key vaccine target seems to be that nobody understands Nicola except Nicola.

“People hoping for answers to serious questions instead got a truly bizarre rant. She talked down to us mere mortals because we had the audacity to believe she had meant what she said in the Scottish Parliament.”

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