Nicola Sturgeon

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Nicola Sturgeon
Deputy First Minister of Scotland
Assumed office
17 May 2007
First Minister Alex Salmond
Preceded by Nicol Stephen
Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities
Assumed office
5 September 2012
First Minister Alex Salmond
Preceded by Alex Neil
Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing
In office
17 May 2007 – 5 September 2012
First Minister Alex Salmond
Preceded by Andy Kerr
Succeeded by Alex Neil
Deputy Leader of the Scottish National Party
Assumed office
3 September 2004
Leader Alex Salmond
Preceded by Roseanna Cunningham
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Glasgow Southside
Assumed office
6 May 2011
Preceded by Constituency established
Majority 4,349 (19.2%)
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Glasgow Govan
In office
3 May 2007 – 5 May 2011
Preceded by Gordon Jackson
Succeeded by Constituency abolished
Majority 744 (3.5%)
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Glasgow
In office
6 May 1999 – 3 May 2007
Preceded by Constituency established
Succeeded by Bob Doris
Personal details
Born (1970-07-19) 19 July 1970 (age 44)
Irvine, Scotland
Political party Scottish National Party
Spouse(s) Peter Murrell
Residence Glasgow
Alma mater University of Glasgow
Profession Solicitor
Religion Church of Scotland
Website Official website

Nicola Sturgeon (born 19 July 1970) is a Scottish National Party (SNP) politician who has been the Deputy First Minister of Scotland since 2007 and the Depute Leader of the SNP since 2004. She is also currently the Cabinet Secretary for Parliament and Government Strategy, the Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities, and the Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for Glasgow Southside.[1]

Sturgeon became an MSP in the first elections to the Scottish Parliament in 1999, becoming the SNP's spokesperson on justice, and later on education and health. In 2004, she announced that she would stand as a candidate for the leadership of the SNP following the resignation of John Swinney. However, she later withdrew from the contest in favour of Alex Salmond, but stood as Depute Leader on a joint ticket with Salmond. Both were subsequently elected and Sturgeon led the SNP in the Scottish Parliament from 2004 to 2007 until Salmond was elected back to the Scottish Parliament in the 2007 election. The SNP won the highest number of seats in the Scottish Parliament following the 2007 election and Salmond was subsequently appointed First Minister of Scotland. He appointed Sturgeon his Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing.

Following the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, at which a majority of the Scottish people voted to remain as part of the United Kingdom, Salmond announced that he would not stand for re-election as leader of the SNP at the party's convention in November, and would resign as First Minister of Scotland after a new leader was chosen. Sturgeon is highly tipped to replace Salmond both as SNP leader and as First Minister at the coming leadership election.[2]

Early life[edit]

Nicola Sturgeon was born in Irvine, North Ayrshire, and educated at Greenwood Academy, Dreghorn, and later studied law at the University of Glasgow where she graduated with an LL.B. (Hons) and Diploma in Legal Practice.[3] At university, she was active in the SNP student wing through Glasgow University Scottish Nationalist Association. She worked as a solicitor in Stirling and the Drumchapel Law Centre in Glasgow before becoming an MSP.

Political career[edit]

Early political career[edit]

Sturgeon joined the Scottish National Party (SNP) in 1986—having already become a member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament[4]—and became Youth Affairs Vice Convener and Publicity Vice Convener.[5] According to her, industrial destruction and soaring unemployment under the premiership of Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s strongly shaped her politics.[6] She first stood for election in the 1992 UK election as the SNP's candidate in the Glasgow Shettleston constituency, and was the youngest parliamentary candidate in Scotland; she failed to win the seat.

The 1997 general election saw Sturgeon selected to fight the Glasgow Govan seat for the SNP. Boundary changes meant that the notional Labour majority in the seat had increased substantially; however, infighting between the two rival candidates for the Labour nomination, Mohammed Sarwar and Mike Watson, along with an energetic local campaign, resulted in Glasgow Govan being the only Scottish seat to see a swing away from Labour in the midst of a Labour landslide nation-wide. Sarwar did however win the seat with a majority of 2,914 votes.[7]

Scottish Parliament[edit]

Sturgeon stood for election to the Scottish Parliament in the 1999 and 2003 elections for the Glasgow Govan constituency. She failed to win this constituency on both occasions. However, in both elections, she was placed first in the regional list for the Glasgow region and was thus elected as an SNP additional member. She was elected to the SNP's national executive, and was appointed the party's spokeswoman for health, education and later for justice.

2004 SNP leadership contest[edit]

On 22 June 2004, John Swinney resigned as leader of the SNP, following poor results in the 2004 European Parliament election. His depute, Roseanna Cunningham, announced her intention to stand for the leadership, and previous leader Alex Salmond stated that he would not stand.[8] On 24 June 2004, Sturgeon announced that she would also be a candidate in the forthcoming election for the leadership of the SNP, with Kenny MacAskill as her running mate for the Depute leadership.[9]

However, Salmond later staged a u-turn and announced he intended to stand (to resume the leadership, which he had resigned in 2000). Sturgeon withdrew from the contest and declared her support for Salmond, standing instead for the depute leadership. It was reported that Salmond had privately supported Sturgeon in her leadership bid, but decided to run for the position himself as it became apparent she was unlikely to beat Cunningham.[10] The majority of the SNP hierarchy lent their support to the Salmond-Sturgeon bid for the leadership, although MSP Alex Neil backed Salmond as leader, but refused to endorse Sturgeon as depute leader.[11]

The results of the leadership contest were announced on 3 September 2004, with Salmond and Sturgeon elected as Leader and Depute Leader. As Salmond was still an MP in the House of Commons, Sturgeon would lead the SNP at the Scottish Parliament until the 2007 election, when Salmond was elected as an MSP.[12]

Depute Leader[edit]

Sturgeon (front right) with leader Alex Salmond and the rest of the Scottish Government cabinet following election in 2011

As leader of the SNP in the Scottish Parliament, Nicola Sturgeon became a high profile figure in Scottish politics, and often clashed with the First Minister Jack McConnell at First Minister's Questions. This included rows over the House of Commons' decision to replace the Trident nuclear weapon system, and the SNP's plans to replace council tax in Scotland with a local income tax.[13]

Sturgeon defeated Gordon Jackson with a 4.7% swing to the SNP in the 2007 Scottish Parliamentary election in Glasgow Govan. The SNP won 9,010 votes (41.9%), which was an increase of +10.7%, while Labour received 8,266 votes or 38.4%. After the SNP's victory at the 2007 Scottish Parliament Election, Sturgeon was appointed as the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing. She was supported in this role by Shona Robison MSP, the Minister for Public Health and Sport and by Alex Neil MSP, the Minister for Housing and Communities.

Acting in her capacity as Scottish Health Secretary, Sturgeon had a key role reporting the Scottish Government's response to the 2009 swine flu outbreak.[14]

In December 2012, at Ferguson Shipbuilders in Port Glasgow, Sturgeon launched the Caledonian MacBrayne hybrid vessel MV Hallaig.[15]

Scottish independence[edit]

In 2012, a Scottish Government cabinet reshuffle appointed Sturgeon to a new role overseeing the referendum on Scottish independence,[16] essentially putting her in charge of the SNP's referendum campaign.[17] Sturgeon believes that independence would allow Scotland to build a stronger and more competitive country,[18] and would change spending priorities to address "the scandal of soaring poverty in a country as rich as Scotland".[19]

In an interview with the Daily Record, Sturgeon said she hoped to become the first female First Minister of Scotland.[17]

On 19 September 2014, Scottish independence was defeated, with 55.3% voting no and 44.7% voting yes.[20] Following the defeat of the Yes Scotland campaign, First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond resigned as First Minister and leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP). Sturgeon is highly tipped to become Salmond's successor as leader of the SNP and as First Minister of Scotland.[21][22][23] On the matter, Sturgeon claimed that there would be "no greater privilege" than to lead the SNP, moving up from deputy leader. She did however claim that this issue is "not for today".[24]

On Salmond's resignation, Sturgeon said:

"The personal debt of gratitude I owe Alex is immeasurable. He has been my friend, mentor and colleague for more than 20 years. Quite simply, I would not have been able to do what I have in politics without his constant advice, guidance and support through all these years.

"Alex's announcement today inevitably raises the question of whether I will be a candidate to succeed him as SNP leader.

"I can think of no greater privilege than to seek to lead the party I joined when I was just 16. However, that decision is not for today. My priority this weekend, after a long and hard campaign, is to get some rest and spend time with my family. I also want the focus over the next few days to be on the outstanding record and achievements of the finest First Minister Scotland has had".

Despite losing the independence referendum, Sturgeon made it clear that she was "more convinced than ever" that one day Scotland would become an independent sovereign nation and that she believed "as strongly today as I did last week that independence is the best future for Scotland".[25]

Sturgeon is expected to "champion" maximum devolution for Scotland within the United Kingdom, something her party's leader Alex Salmond has refused to do so on multiple occasions. Salmond had previously refused to work with the Calman Commission set up in order to give the Scottish Parliament for tax-raising powers in 2008.[26]

SNP leadership bid, 2014[edit]

Following the resignation by SNP leader and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond (set to take effect in November 2014), Sturgeon is highly expected to succeed Salmond as SNP leader unopposed. Given the SNP's strong majority in the Scottish Parliament, she is all but certain to become First Minister when Salmond resigns.[27] There were speculations that other prominent figures such as Alex Neil,[28] Humza Yousaf[29] and Angus Robertson[30] would challenge Sturgeon for the role, but all three have ruled themselves out.[31]

On 24 September, Sturgeon officially launched her campaign bid to succeed Salmond in the post as SNP leader and First Minister of Scotland. On the same day, she resigned as depute leader of the SNP.[32][33] On launching her bid, Sturgeon highlighted in a confident speech that she "is the best person for the job" and wants to serve "my party and my country".[34] High profile SNP figures such as former leader Gordon Wilson backed Sturgeon's campaign for leadership of the SNP and Scotland's First Minister.[35]

Awards and acknowledgements[edit]

Sturgeon won the Scottish Politician of the Year Award in 2008. In 2004 and 2008 she also won the Donald Dewar Debater of the Year award at the same event which is organised by The Herald newspaper.

In February 2013 she was assessed as the 20th most powerful woman in the United Kingdom by Woman's Hour on BBC Radio 4.[36]

Personal life[edit]

Sturgeon lives in Glasgow with her husband Peter Murrell, who is the current chief executive of the SNP.[1] They announced their engagement on 29 January 2010 and married on 16 July 2010. Her mother, Joan, is SNP Provost of North Ayrshire Council, where she has been councillor for the Irvine East ward since 2007.

Sturgeon is a fan of the Danish political drama Borgen, which she has described as "a drama but with an authentic twist. As a politician I can relate to it."[37] In February 2013 she interviewed Sidse Babett Knudsen, the actress who played fictional prime minister Birgitte Nyborg for STV's Scotland Tonight when the second series finale was screened at the Edinburgh Filmhouse to promote its DVD release.[37][38]


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Candidates and Constituency Assessments". Retrieved 17 January 2011. 
  4. ^ "Sturgeon: "Now or never" to banish Trident". Scottish National Party. 5 April 2014. Retrieved 6 July 2014. 
  5. ^ Nicola Sturgeon MSP, biography on SNP website
  6. ^ "Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon returns to her home town to explain how independence will lead to a better Scotland". Daily Record. 6 July 2014. Retrieved 6 July 2014. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Under-fire SNP leader resigns". BBC News. 22 June 2004. Retrieved 17 January 2011. 
  9. ^ "Sturgeon contests SNP leadership". BBC News. 24 June 2004. Retrieved 17 January 2011. 
  10. ^ Swanson, Ian. "Edinburgh News- "Salmond in shock bid for leader"". Retrieved 17 January 2011. 
  11. ^ Denholm, Andrew. " "Salmond's arch-rival buries hatchet with declaration of support"". Retrieved 17 January 2011. 
  12. ^ "Salmond named as new SNP leader". BBC News. 3 September 2004. Retrieved 17 January 2011. 
  13. ^ "Parties clash on Trident and tax". BBC News. 15 March 2007. Retrieved 17 January 2011. 
  14. ^ "". 27 April 2009. Retrieved 17 January 2011. 
  15. ^ Nicola Sturgeon launches pioneering hybrid ferry from Port Glasgow shipyard
  16. ^ "Scottish cabinet reshuffle: Nicola Sturgeon given new independence role". BBC News. 5 September 2012. Retrieved 6 July 2014. 
  17. ^ a b "Nicola Sturgeon admits her sights are set on landing First Minister's job but insists winning independence referendum is top priority". Daily Record. 19 March 2014. Retrieved 6 July 2014. 
  18. ^ Carrell, Severin (25 May 2012). "Scottish independence would allow economy to grow, says Sturgeon". The Guardian (London). 
  19. ^ "Nicola Sturgeon: There are 100,000 Scots in poverty and Westminster want to spend billions on Trident". Daily Record. 1 July 2014. Retrieved 6 July 2014. 
  20. ^
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  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^ BBC Radio 4, Woman's Hour Power list
  37. ^ a b Whitaker, Andrew (4 February 2013). "Borgen’s Filmhouse finale wows Edinburgh". The Scotsman (Johnston Press). Retrieved 26 February 2014. 
  38. ^ "Deputy First Minister interviews Borgen PM for Scotland Tonight". STV News (STV). 4 February 2013. Retrieved 26 February 2014. 

External links[edit]

Scottish Parliament
New constituency Member of the Scottish Parliament for Glasgow
Succeeded by
Bob Doris
Preceded by
Gordon Jackson
Member of the Scottish Parliament for Glasgow Govan
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of the Scottish Parliament for Glasgow Southside
Party political offices
Preceded by
Roseanna Cunningham
Deputy Leader of the Scottish National Party
Political offices
Preceded by
Nicol Stephen
Deputy First Minister of Scotland
Preceded by
Andy Kerr
Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing
Succeeded by
Alex Neil
Preceded by
Alex Neil
Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities