Scottish Election 2021: Nicola Sturgeon vows to work with Anas Sarwar’s Scottish Labour and does not rule out coalition with Scottish Greens

Nicola Sturgeon has vowed to collaborate with Scottish Labour to rebuild the Scottish economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

In an interview with the Daily Record on the eve of the election, Ms Sturgeon said: “I’ll work with Labour on good ideas”.

The First Minister’s conciliatory remarks came after a string of polls published in recent days suggested SNP chances of securing a Holyrood majority are simply too close to call.

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The SNP and Labour may be on other sides of the Scottish independence debate, but both parties agree on a tranche of domestic policies, including a new national care service and massive public spending to cut child poverty levels.

Ms Sturgeon joked: “I am glad that there’s so much of the SNP manifesto that also found its way into Labour’s manifesto.”

‘I’ll work with Labour on good ideas’

Citing the widely-praised period poverty bill, introduced to the Scottish Parliament by Labour’s Monica Lennon, she said there were many reasons for the parties to join forces.

“I think there are plenty of examples where we’ve worked consensually and constructively, so yes, I’ll work with Labour on good ideas.”

Nicola Sturgeon has vowed to collaborate with Scottish Labour to rebuild the Scottish economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Speaking on the SNP’s battle bus, the First Minister also refused to rule out a coalition with the Scottish Greens if her own party falls short of a majority.

The SNP have a history of working with Patrick Harvie’s party.

In 2007, the Scottish Greens struck an informal deal with then-First Minister Alex Salmond, promising to support his minority administration if the SNP adopted key climate change legislation and nominated Mr Harvie to convene the Holyrood committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change.

The First Minister also refused to rule out a coalition with the Scottish Greens if her own party falls short of a majority.

But in 2009, the Greens were central to the defeat of the SNP’s budget after they withdrew their support.

Asked about the prospect of a Green/SNP coalition, Ms Sturgeon said: “I am not ruling out anything at the moment” - before insisting that this did not apply to the Scottish Conservatives or the Alba Party.

‘I was stretched to my limits’

She said the collapse of her relationship with the new party’s leader - and her former mentor - Alex Salmond, had resulted in “dark days” for her over the last 12 months.

Ms Sturgeon added that Alba’s drive to create a supermajority of pro-independence MSPs was more likely to “push” away Scots who are open-minded about Scotland’s future.

Ms Sturgeon admitted that the twin crises of the pandemic and fallout from the Salmond trial had left her emotionally strained.

“The layering of that, on top of the stress of Covid, yes, took me to some days where I was stretched to my limits let’s say. But I didn’t quite break.”

Touching on Mr Salmond’s alleged claim that he could have “destroyed” her, Ms Sturgeon said: “Whatever it meant, and he has obviously denied it, I think it probably says more about him than about me.”

She also expressed a veiled concern over his new party’s vision for the country.

“I’m not sure - or maybe I am a bit sure and that’s what makes me so uncomfortable - what kind of Scotland Alba envisages.”

Ms Sturgeon added that Alba’s drive to create a supermajority of pro-independence MSPs was more likely to “push” away Scots who are open-minded about Scotland’s future.

She has also previously made clear that she will not support Mr Salmond’s attempts - should he re-enter the Scottish Parliament - to launch independence negotiations with the UK Government on day one.

By contrast, the SNP campaign ahead of this year’s election has focused on her leadership during the coronavirus pandemic, downplaying the urgency of a second independence referendum, which the party is willing to wait until 2023 to deliver.

‘Every waking moment’

Ms Sturgeon said: “My first priority, my immediate priority, my overriding priority, for as long as it takes, is to get us through the Covid crisis and into recovery.”

“I have spent almost every waking moment for the past year trying to steer us through. I am the last person that is going to do anything to compromise that route to recovery.”

She added: “When the time is right, I will be proposing that people in Scotland get to choose our future, and I will be campaigning for independence.”

Ms Sturgeon also poured scorn on the Scottish Conservatives’ claim that she would hold a “wildcat” referendum if Downing Street blocked the route to an official one.

“I am not interested in wildcat, illegal, questionable processes to win independence, not least because I don’t believe it would lead to independence as the outcome. Catalonia is a prime example of that,” she said.

“I have not spent my life campaigning for this to reduce it to gestures and stunts.”

‘You’ve lost the argument’

Rounding on Tory Party leader Douglas Ross, the First Minister said his threat to boycott a future independence referendum was “a window into his soul”.

“Who knows whether Douglas Ross will be leader of the Scottish Tories in a little while?” she asked.

“In politics, when you get into a situation where you are talking about boycotting democratic votes, you kind of concede that you’ve lost the argument.”

Ms Sturgeon also played down concerns about how an independent Scotland would fare in a future pandemic, claiming there are policy areas that could be shared with the rest of the United Kingdom.

“It would still make sense for the UK nations to procure flu vaccine, or Covid vaccine, collectively.

“So there’s lots of things. Independence is not separation. Independence is self-governance.”

The First Minister added that in an “inter-connected” world self-governance means “sharing sovereignty” with other countries.

“For Scotland,” she said, “that would clearly on occasion mean with other countries across the UK.”

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