As Nicola Sturgeon becomes Scotland's longest-serving First Minister, we offer our congratulations and a suggestion – Scotsman comment

After seven years, six months and five days, Nicola Sturgeon is now Scotland’s longest-serving First Minister.

At a time when politics seems particularly fraught, with the road-rage style invective found on social media increasingly spilling into public discourse, such longevity is a remarkable achievement.

A poll earlier this month found Sturgeon had the highest approval rating of any party leader in the UK, at plus 13 per cent, compared to Boris Johnson, on minus 58 per cent, and her predecessor, Alex Salmond, whose time in office she has now eclipsed, on minus 63. So, according to most people in Scotland, the first female First Minister is doing well, while other party leaders are doing spectacularly badly.

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But while she is clearly a capable and astute politician, it is equally apparent that Scotland is facing significant problems and that at least some of those can be laid directly at the door of her government.

The ridiculous delays and soaring costs of two ferries being built for Calmac at the state-owned Ferguson Marine shipyard were bad enough, but now a pay dispute at ScotRail, recently taken into public ownership, is beginning to cause serious damage to the economy with the threat of worse to come.

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The crisis in the NHS and social care, which is not simply the result of the Covid pandemic, and helping people cope with the cost-of-living crisis are two other pressing priorities.

However, despite all these troubles, Sturgeon seems likely to expend much of her energies over the next year attempting to secure a second referendum on independence, which, if achieved, would inflict Brexit-style damage on the economy.

Nicola Sturgeon is now Scotland's longest-serving First Minister (Picture: Jane Barlow/pool/Getty Images)

We have urged the First Minister to have the courage to disappoint her own supporters by putting their independence dreams on hold and the national interest first.

If she refuses to do this, she simply must do better on the everyday, bread-and-butter issues of government that matter so much to so many people. Nationalist support has shielded her from the kind of democratic accountability faced by other politicians, but it will not do so forever and the need for effective, compassionate government is great.

That said, it would be churlish not to congratulate the First Minister, the first woman to hold this high office, for entering the history books and we do so wholeheartedly.

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