FMQs sketch: When Nicola Sturgeon's words come back to haunt her

Next year Nicola Sturgeon will become the longest-serving First Minister of Scotland in the history of devolution.

It’s hardly surprising then that after such a length of tenure her own words are now being used against her with increasing effectiveness by the opposition.

Scottish Labour’s Anas Sarwar is mining a seam of former Sturgeon statements at First Minster’s Questions and this week was no exception.

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FMQs: Nicola Sturgeon facing increasing pressure over NHS recovery from Covid
Nicola Sturgeon is under increasing pressure at FMQs.

While a few weeks ago he pointed out she had described an NHS waiting list of 84,000 under a Labour government in 2003 as a “humiliation” and wondered if the current number of 600,000 was similarly embarrassing, ferries were the latest subject to come back to bite the First Minister.

Back when Jack McConnell sat on the FM throne, Sturgeon accused him of selling out Scottish workers over a ferries contract, which she said should have gone to the Ferguson shipyard in Port Glasgow rather than to Poland.

Why was it, mused Sarwar, that when it came to two new ferries required to be built to serve Islay and Jura, Sturgeon had not heeded her own words?

Why wasn’t the now nationalised Ferguson’s even allowed to bid for the £100 million contract? The successful companies are based in Romania, Poland and Turkey.

“That a Scottish Government-owned company can’t win a Scottish Government contract to build ships is a national scandal that is now an international humiliation,” Sarwar said.

Ironically Sturgeon used the same defence as McConnell – procurement processes are bound by rules and regulations. Ferguson’s, she claimed – to the surprised sound of islanders’ eyebrows shooting into their hairlines – is on “a journey”.

While Sarwar baits the First Minister with her own words, Douglas Ross has decided her record as health secretary government should not be forgotten. He also is less content to let slide her English and Welsh comparisons.

“Nicola Sturgeon is Scotland's First Minister,” he intoned. "She was Scotland's health secretary. I would like her to take some responsibility for what is happening in Scotland's health care.”

That is precisely what Sturgeon says she does. But with FMQs becoming increasingly uncomfortable – and no prospect of an independence referendum in sight – it’s little wonder questions are being asked as to how much longer she will want to shoulder that responsibility.

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