Nicola Sturgeon

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The Right Honourable
Nicola Sturgeon
MSP
Nicola Sturgeon 2.jpg
First Minister of Scotland
Incumbent
Assumed office
19 November 2014
Monarch Elizabeth II
Deputy John Swinney
Preceded by Alex Salmond
Leader of the Scottish National Party
Incumbent
Assumed office
14 November 2014
Deputy Stewart Hosie
Preceded by Alex Salmond
Deputy First Minister of Scotland
In office
17 May 2007 – 19 November 2014
First Minister Alex Salmond
Preceded by Nicol Stephen
Succeeded by John Swinney
Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities
In office
5 September 2012 – 19 November 2014
First Minister Alex Salmond
Preceded by Alex Neil
Succeeded by Keith Brown
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
Depute Leader of the Scottish National Party
In office
3 September 2004 – 14 November 2014
Leader Alex Salmond
Preceded by Roseanna Cunningham
Succeeded by Stewart Hosie
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Glasgow Southside
Incumbent
Assumed office
6 May 2011
Preceded by Constituency created
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
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Glasgow
In office
6 May 1999 – 3 May 2007
Preceded by Constituency created
Succeeded by Bob Doris
Personal details
Born (1970-07-19) 19 July 1970 (age 44)
Irvine, Ayrshire, Scotland
Nationality Scottish
Political party Scottish National Party
Spouse(s) Peter Murrell
Residence Bute House
Alma mater University of Glasgow
Profession Solicitor
Religion Church of Scotland

Nicola Ferguson Sturgeon (born 19 July 1970) is the fifth and current First Minister of Scotland and the Leader of the Scottish National Party. She is the first woman to hold either position. Sturgeon represents Glasgow Southside as its MSP.

A law graduate of the University of Glasgow, Sturgeon worked as a solicitor in Glasgow. She was first elected to the Scottish Parliament in 1999, and served successively as the SNP's shadow minister for education, health and justice. 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, standing instead 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, when Alex Salmond was elected 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 Alex Salmond was subsequently appointed First Minister of Scotland. He appointed Sturgeon as Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing. She was later appointed as Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities in 2012.

Following the defeat of the Yes Scotland campaign in the 2014 independence referendum, Alex Salmond announced that he would resign as leader at the party conference that November, and would resign as First Minister after a new leader was chosen.[1] Nominations for the position closed on 15 October, with Sturgeon confirmed as the only candidate. She was formally acclaimed as leader of the SNP on 14 November, and elected to succeed Salmond as First Minister on 19 November.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Nicola Ferguson Sturgeon[3] was born in Ayrshire Central Hospital in Irvine, Ayrshire on 19 July 1970. She is the elder of two daughters born to Robert Sturgeon (born 1948), an electrician, and Joan Kerr Sturgeon (née Ferguson) (born 1952), a dental nurse.

Sturgeon grew up in Prestwick and Dreghorn. She attended Dreghorn Primary School from 1975 to 1982 and Greenwood Academy from 1982 to 1988. She later studied at the University of Glasgow, where she studied Law. Sturgeon graduated with a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) in 1992 and a Diploma in Legal Practice the following year.[4] On qualifying as a solicitor she worked for Bell & Craig, a firm of solicitors in Stirling, and later at the Drumchapel Law Centre in Glasgow.

Early political career[edit]

Sturgeon joined the Scottish National Party (SNP) in 1986, having already become a member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and quickly became their Youth Affairs Vice Convener and Publicity Vice Convener.[5][6] She first stood for election in the 1992 general election as the SNP candidate in the Glasgow Shettleston constituency, and was the youngest parliamentary candidate in Scotland, failing 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 nationwide. Sarwar did, however, win the seat with a majority of 2,914 votes.[7] Shortly after this, Sturgeon was appointed as the SNP's spokesperson for energy and education matters.

Sturgeon stood for election to the Scottish Parliament in the first Scottish Parliament election in 1999 as the SNP candidate for Glasgow Govan. Although she failed to win the seat, she was placed first in the SNP's regional list for the Glasgow region, and was thus elected as a Member of the Scottish Parliament. During the first term of the Scottish Parliament, Sturgeon served as a member of the Shadow Cabinets of both Alex Salmond and John Swinney. She was Shadow Minister for Children and Education from 1999 to 2000, Shadow Minister for Health and Community Care from 2000 to 2003, and Shadow Minister for Justice from 2003 to 2004. She also served a member of the Education, Culture and Sport Committee and the Health and Community Care Committee.

Depute Leader and Deputy First Minister[edit]

On 22 June 2004, John Swinney resigned as Leader of the SNP following poor results in the European Parliament election. His then-depute, Roseanna Cunningham, immediately announced her intention to stand for the leadership. The previous leader, Alex Salmond, announced at the time 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, with Kenny MacAskill as her running mate.[9]

However, Salmond later announced that he did intend to stand for the leadership; Sturgeon subsequently withdrew from the contest and declared her support for Salmond, standing instead as his running mate 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.[11]

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

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, Sturgeon became a high-profile figure in Scottish politics and often clashed with 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 election in Glasgow Govan. The election resulted in a hung parliament, with the SNP the largest party by a single seat; the SNP subsequently formed a minority government. Sturgeon was appointed as the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing by then First Minister Alex Salmond. In the position she saw through party pledges such as scrapping prescription charges and reversing A&E closures, she also became accredited internationally for her handling of the 2009 flu pandemic.[14][15] 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.

At the 2011 election, the SNP won a landslide victory and achieved a large overall majority. Sturgeon was retained as Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing until a reshuffle one year later, when she was appointed as Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities and an additional role overseeing the referendum on Scottish independence, essentially putting her in charge of the SNP's referendum campaign.[16] In December 2012, at Ferguson Shipbuilders in Port Glasgow, Sturgeon launched the Caledonian MacBrayne hybrid vessel MV Hallaig. Sturgeon said at this time that she believed that independence would allow Scotland to build a stronger and more competitive country, and would change spending priorities to address "the scandal of soaring poverty in a country as rich as Scotland".[17]

On 19 September 2014, independence was rejected in the 2014 referendum with 55.3% of the voters voting no and 44.7% voting yes.[18] Following the defeat of the Yes Scotland campaign, First Minister Alex Salmond announced his resignation as First Minister and Leader of the SNP. Sturgeon immediately announced that should would be a candidate in the election to replace him, and received huge support from the SNP hierarchy.[19][20][21] Sturgeon claimed that there would be "no greater privilege" than to lead the SNP. 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".

Following the referendum defeat, Sturgeon has said that "further devolution is the route to independence", further claiming that "the more responsibilities we can demonstrate Scotland is capable of successfully discharging, – and the more these are used to build a fairer country and more economic opportunity for all".[22] Sturgeon also opined that Scottish independence is a matter of "when, not if".[23]

Leadership of the Scottish National Party[edit]

On 24 September 2014, Sturgeon officially launched her campaign bid to succeed Salmond as Leader of the Scottish National Party at the November leadership election.[24][25] A huge number of SNP figures publicly backed Sturgeon's campaign, and it quickly became apparent that no other candidate would be able to receive the required nominations to stand.[26] During the speech launching her campaign, Sturgeon announced that she would resign as Depute Leader, triggering a concurrent depute leadership election; the MSPs Angela Constance and Keith Brown and the MP Stewart Hosie all nominated themselves to succeed Sturgeon as Depute Leader.[27][28][27]

Nominations for the SNP leadership closed on 15 October, with Sturgeon confirmed as the only candidate. This left her poised to take the leadership unopposed at its Autumn Conference in November.[29] On this date, Sturgeon also came out on top in a trust rating opinion poll, which indicated that 54% of the Scottish population trusted her to "stand up for Scotland's interests".[30] After being confirmed as the only candidate, Sturgeon launched a tour of Scotland, visiting SNP members in different cities outlining her vision for Scotland.[31]

Sturgeon was formally acclaimed as the first female Leader of the Scottish National Party on 14 November 2014 at the Autumn Conference in Perth, with Hosie as her depute. This also effectively made her First Minister in waiting, given the SNP's absolute majority in the Scottish Parliament.[32] In her first speech as leader, Sturgeon said that it was "the privilege of her life" to lead the party she joined as a teenager.[33]

First Minister of Scotland[edit]

On 19 November 2014, Salmond formally resigned as First Minister of Scotland, and Sturgeon was elected by the Scottish Parliament as his successor, becoming the first woman to hold the position. Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson also nominated for the position, even though the SNP's absolute majority in the chamber assured Sturgeon's election.[34] She was formally sworn into office before a panel of 15 senior judges at the Court of Session in Edinburgh the following day, after which she presided over her first session of First Minister's Questions as First Minister.[35] On 21 November, she unveiled her Cabinet, promoting Finance Secretary John Swinney to become her Deputy First Minister.

By most accounts, Sturgeon has taken a more conciliatory tone than Salmond. For instance, during her first First Minister's Questions after being sworn in, she said that she came into her new post "with an open mind and a willingness to hear proposals from all sides of the chamber."[36]

Awards and acknowledgements[edit]

Sturgeon won the Scottish Politician of the Year Award in 2008, 2012 and 2014. In 2004, 2008 and 2011 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.[37]

Personal life[edit]

Sturgeon lives in Glasgow with her husband Peter Murrell, who is the current chief executive of the SNP. The couple have been in a relationship since 2003. They announced their engagement on 29 January 2010 and were married on 16 July 2010 at Òran Mór in Glasgow. Her mother, Joan, is the 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."[38] In February 2013 she interviewed Sidse Babett Knudsen, the actress who played fictional prime minister Birgitte Nyborg in the series for STV's Scotland Tonight when the second series finale was screened at the Edinburgh Filmhouse to promote its DVD release.[38][39]

References[edit]

  1. ^ LibBrooks. "Alex Salmond's resignation could give Nicola Sturgeon her day of destiny". the Guardian. Retrieved 19 November 2014. 
  2. ^ "BBC News - The transition from Alex Salmond to Nicola Sturgeon". BBC News. Retrieved 19 November 2014. 
  3. ^ Scottish Parliament Minutes of Chamber Proceedings for 11 May 2011
  4. ^ "Candidates and Constituency Assessments". Alba.org.uk. Retrieved 17 January 2011. 
  5. ^ "Sturgeon: "Now or never" to banish Trident". Scottish National Party. 5 April 2014. Retrieved 6 July 2014. 
  6. ^ Nicola Sturgeon MSP, biography on SNP website
  7. ^ "BBC Politics 97". Retrieved 19 November 2014. 
  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"". Edinburghnews.scotsman.com. Retrieved 17 January 2011. 
  11. ^ Denholm, Andrew. "Scotsman.com- "Salmond's arch-rival buries hatchet with declaration of support"". Thescotsman.scotsman.com. 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. ^ "The Nicola Sturgeon story". BBC News. 19 November 2014. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  15. ^ "Rise of Nicola Sturgeon: from 'nippy sweetie' to SNP leader?". Channel 4 News. 24 September 2014. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  16. ^ "Scottish cabinet reshuffle: Nicola Sturgeon given new independence role". BBC News. 5 September 2012. Retrieved 6 July 2014. 
  17. ^ Carrell, Severin (25 May 2012). "Scottish independence would allow economy to grow, says Sturgeon". The Guardian (London). 
  18. ^ "Scottish independence referendum: final results in full". the Guardian. Retrieved 19 November 2014. 
  19. ^ "Scottish referendum results: As Alex Salmond steps down, Nicola Sturgeon waits for her chance to lead". The Independent. Retrieved 19 November 2014. 
  20. ^ "Alex Salmond Resigns: Will SNP Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon Replace Him?". International Business Times UK. Retrieved 19 November 2014. 
  21. ^ "Scottish independence: referendum results - live - Telegraph". Telegraph.co.uk. 19 September 2014. Retrieved 19 November 2014. 
  22. ^ "Nicola Sturgeon: ‘Devo is route to independence’". Retrieved 19 November 2014. 
  23. ^ "'Scottish Independence is a When Not an If' says Nicola Sturgeon". International Business Times UK. Retrieved 19 November 2014. 
  24. ^ Severin Carrell. "Nicola Sturgeon launches campaign to succeed Alex Salmond". the Guardian. Retrieved 19 November 2014. 
  25. ^ "Nicola Sturgeon predicts independence 'one day' as she launches bid to replace Alex Salmond". Telegraph.co.uk. 24 September 2014. Retrieved 19 November 2014. 
  26. ^ "BBC News - Nicola Sturgeon backed by former SNP leader Gordon Wilson to replace Salmond". BBC News. Retrieved 19 November 2014. 
  27. ^ a b "Keith Brown and Stewart Hosie stand for SNP deputy leadership". Telegraph.co.uk. 25 September 2014. Retrieved 19 November 2014. 
  28. ^ "Angela Constance: ‘I know why Yes campaign failed’". Retrieved 19 November 2014. 
  29. ^ "SNP leadership elections close". SNP. SNP. Retrieved 15 October 2014. 
  30. ^ "Nicola Sturgeon tops politician trust rating poll". Retrieved 19 November 2014. 
  31. ^ LibBrooks. "Nicola Sturgeon on tour". the Guardian. Retrieved 19 November 2014. 
  32. ^ "New SNP leadership team: Sturgeon and Hosie". Retrieved 19 November 2014. 
  33. ^ "BBC News - SNP conference: Nicola Sturgeon appointed party leader". BBC News. Retrieved 19 November 2014. 
  34. ^ "BBC News - New Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon makes gender equality pledge". BBC News. Retrieved 19 November 2014. 
  35. ^ "Nicola Sturgeon sworn in as First Minister". The Scotsman (Johnston Press). 20 November 2014. Retrieved 23 November 2014. 
  36. ^ Nicola Sturgeon officially sworn in as Scotland's First Minister. STV News, 2014-11-20.
  37. ^ "BBC Radio 4, Woman's Hour Power list". BBC. Retrieved 19 November 2014. 
  38. ^ a b Whitaker, Andrew (4 February 2013). "Borgen’s Filmhouse finale wows Edinburgh". The Scotsman (Johnston Press). Retrieved 26 February 2014. 
  39. ^ "Deputy First Minister interviews Borgen PM for Scotland Tonight". STV News (STV). 4 February 2013. Retrieved 26 February 2014. 

External links[edit]

Scottish Parliament
Preceded by
Constituency Created
Member of the Scottish Parliament for Glasgow
19992007
Succeeded by
Bob Doris
Preceded by
Gordon Jackson
Member of the Scottish Parliament for Glasgow Govan
20072011
Succeeded by
Constituency Abolished
Preceded by
Constituency Created
Member of the Scottish Parliament for Glasgow Southside
2011–present
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
Nicol Stephen
Deputy First Minister of Scotland
2007–2014
Succeeded by
John Swinney
Preceded by
Andy Kerr
Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing
2007–2012
Succeeded by
Alex Neil
Preceded by
Alex Neil
Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities
2012–2014
Succeeded by
Keith Brown
Preceded by
Alex Salmond
First Minister of Scotland
2014–present
Incumbent
Party political offices
Preceded by
Roseanna Cunningham
Depute Leader of the Scottish National Party
2004–2014
Succeeded by
Stewart Hosie
Preceded by
Alex Salmond
Leader of the Scottish National Party
2014–present
Incumbent
Order of precedence in Scotland
Preceded by
The Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury
as President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
Keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland
2014–present
Succeeded by
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as Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament