Nicola Sturgeon pledges not to govern by ‘force of numbers’

Nicola Sturgeon will not rule by numbers at Holyrood if elected First Minister. Picture: Contributed
Nicola Sturgeon will not rule by numbers at Holyrood if elected First Minister. Picture: Contributed
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Nicola Sturgeon has pledged she will not govern Scotland by “force of numbers” as she issued an appeal for national unity ahead of her expected re-election as First Minister today.

The SNP leader says she will adopt an “open, inclusive and outward looking” approach in office after criticism that the last Nationalist regime used its majority to drive through many unpopular policies despite wider public concerns.

Ms Sturgeon will be formally voted back into office by MSPs at Holyrood this afternoon after the Scottish election 12 days ago saw the SNP win a resounding victory but lose its majority. It means Ms Sturgeon may have to rely on opposition votes to get some measures through. Today’s vote will be the second time MSPs have voted her into the post of First Minister after a similar election when she replaced Alex Salmond.

“Since Parliament first elected me to the position 18 months ago, I have worked tirelessly every day to repay that support,” Ms Sturgeon said.“During the election campaign I described the SNP manifesto as my application for the job of First Minister – and the election allowed the people of Scotland to deliver their verdict.

“I am absolutely clear that the SNP has an overwhelming mandate to continue to govern, and I have a mandate to continue as First Minister. I am therefore calling on Parliament to recognise that mandate today.

“And if re-elected by Parliament I will lead a government that seeks to win votes, not simply by the force of our numbers, but by the strength of our arguments - and by the support we are able to build for our policies in the country as a whole.

“And we will not assume a monopoly of wisdom. Good ideas exist across the parliamentary chamber and I promise that we will always seek to judge them on merit, rather than on their party of origin.

“That is the open, inclusive and outward looking approach to government that I will endeavour to take.”

The SNP fell just two seats short of a majority after ending up with 63 seats in the election, meaning the opposition could combine to vote down SNP measures.

It would require agreement among four opposition parties - the Tories, Labour, the Greens and Lib Dems.

But the SNP is already facing defeat over plans to cut airline taxes and the controversial Offensive Behaviour at Football Act, with the opposition united. Ms Sturgeon urged her opponents to be “robust, but also constructive” in holding ministers to account.

“I believe it can make a real difference to how we do business and, ultimately, to how well we serve the people of Scotland,” the First Minister added.

Other candidates can run against Ms Sturgeon, but opposition leader Ruth Davidson of the Conservatives has ruled out standing.