We’ve not heard the last of minimum pricing, Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has said.
In an exclusive interview with Holyrood, Sturgeon says that action on price is “inevitable”.
“We’ve not heard the last of it. This is the direction things are going in and it will either happen as a result of this Bill or it will happen in some other way, I’ve got no doubt about that.
And I will not stop arguing for it because I believe in it.” She admitted that Labour’s opposition to the policy came as a surprise, however, she added that perhaps she had simply given them “too much credit” as a result of their strong public health record.
Labour will live to regret their stance on this policy, she insisted.
“I think they’ve lost a lot of credibility, because I would give them a lot of credit for their public health record when in office, they did a lot of progressive, radical pioneering stuff in public health and I think they’ve lost a lot of that credibility over their behaviour on minimum pricing.” She says that despite repeated attempts to strike a compromise, she has been met with “a brick wall”, and has come to realise that Labour are simply “not open to be persuaded”.
She said: “I’m afraid I’ve come to the conclusion, particularly with Labour, that there was nothing I could do because they don’t want to support it – not because they don’t agree with the policy, I think a lot of them do agree with the policy, but because it is the SNP putting it forward.
And I think that is shocking behaviour.” It would have been just as easy for her party to opportunistically oppose the smoking ban in the last parliament, she said.
“But that would have been totally the wrong thing to do because some issues – I’m not being pious about this, I’m a politician, I do politics, that’s my job – but some issues are too important to fall foul of pure party politics, and I’m afraid this one has.”