Nicola Sturgeon: ‘It is odd for SNP to be agonising over what has gone wrong’

Nicola Sturgeon has called for her fractured party to unite in advance of next year’s Holyrood election.

In an exclusive interview to mark her 50th birthday in the Scotland on Sunday, the First Minister said it was “odd” that the party should be “agonising” over its problems at a time when it is enjoying unprecedented support.

Despite riding high in the opinion polls, the SNP is experiencing deep divisions linked to the Alex Salmond trial, the Gender Recognition Act and a belief, on the part of some, that Sturgeon is too cautious in her approach to independence.

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“Of course, I want my party to be united,” Sturgeon told Scotland on Sunday. “History is littered with examples of political parties that start talking to each other as opposed to the public.

“I don’t think that’s where the SNP is generally, but there does seem something odd about a political party that is sitting, after 13 years in power, with record opinion poll ratings and the biggest ever support for independence, agonising over what’s going wrong.”

Sturgeon also said she would be urging supporters to give both their votes to the SNP.

She was speaking shortly after former SNP MSP David Thompson launched a new pro-independence group, Alliance for Independence. Thompson said AFI would allow smaller pro-independence parties to unite under one banner and contest the regional lists. He predicted it could win up to 24 seats.

Sturgeon said her first priority was tackling the pandemic, but added: “You can take it as read that, come the election, I will be saying to people: ‘Vote SNP with your first vote, and vote SNP with your regional vote as well,’ and I will be pointing to the fact that the one time we did win a majority [in 2011] was when we maximised the constituency and the regional vote.”

In an exclusive and wide-ranging interview, Sturgeon spoke about sexism, dealing with an onslaught of criticism and how tackling the pandemic had lowered her tolerance for traditional, knock-about politics.

She also spoke about her concerns about the menopause, which she called the last taboo. “Unlike the whole thing of having kids or not having kids, periods and other aspects of womanhood, I think there is still an inhibition when it comes to the menopause,” she said.

“It shouldn’t be as big a mystery to those of us about to go through it, but it is. You read so much about women feeling as if they are losing their mind and you think: ‘God, I am in a really responsible job; how am I going to cope if I get hot flushes in the middle of FMQs?’.”

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