Exclusive: Nicola Sturgeon backs Angus Robertson to stay on as SNP depute leader

Written by Staff reporter on 8 October 2017 in News

Writing for Holyrood, former Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill questioned whether Robertson's position was tenable

Nicola Sturgeon - image credit: David Anderson

Nicola Sturgeon has rejected suggestions that Angus Robertson’s position as depute leader of the SNP is untenable after the party’s former Westminster leader lost his seat in the 2017 general election.

Writing for Holyrood, former Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill questioned whether Robertson could stay on as depute leader, saying: “Angus Robertson remains deputy leader in name but it’s hard to see how he can fulfil the role as an unelected politician. Leadership is a full-time job, as Gordon Wilson found before.”

But in an exclusive interview with Holyrood editor Mandy Rhodes, Sturgeon put her support behind Robertson to continue in the role.


Asked whether it was sustainable to have a deputy who is no longer an elected politician, the SNP leader said “of course it is”.

She said: “The SNP in years gone by had many of its key office bearers that weren’t elected politicians because frankly, we didn’t have many elected politicians and one of the strengths of the SNP and one of the ingredients of our success over the years has been our connection with communities, building up over a period of time our strength in different communities, and having senior people in the party who are not in elected office - I wouldn’t have chosen for it to happen in the way it did - but yes I think it can be an opportunity.”

Sturgeon said the loss of Robertson, as well as former SNP leader Alex Salmond, had been “difficult to take”.

She said: “Alex and Angus are both friends of mine, I’ve known them for most of my life, I’ve worked with them for most of my life, Alex obviously particularly closely, so of course I felt a personal sadness about all of the seats we lost but given my closeness to both of them, of course that’s difficult to take. Frankly, how both of them have dealt with it, bouncing back and getting on with things, is probably a lesson to all politicians.”

She added: “I think Alex inevitably will come back into elected politics at some point. I don’t know whether to describe Alex as like my uncle or my big brother or whatever, he’s just such a part of my life and existence, and the thought of politics without Alex Salmond to me is like losing a limb. And that’s just the way it is.

“Alex is a big figure, sometimes his jokes aren’t funny, but would he still be one of the first people I would want to talk to about a big political issue? Of course he would. He’s just got such an incredible political brain and insight and you know, inevitably any time I speak to Alex, he always kind of gives an angle on something you hadn’t thought of before. I would always rather have Alex as part of the picture than not.”

You can read the interview with Nicola Sturgeon in the new issue of Holyrood, available at SNP conference and to subscribers on Monday.



Related Articles

Interview: Can Anas Sarwar be the champion of the working class?
25 October 2017

Exclusive interview with the Scottish Labour leadership contender on Brexit, socialism and the real living wage

Q&A with Drew Hendry
19 October 2017

The MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey on unfair delivery charges, commuting and...

Nicola Sturgeon: It is time to “put Scotland in the driving seat”
10 October 2017

Nicola Sturgeon calls for devolution of immigration policy, while pledging the Scottish Government would cover any fee levied by the UK Government on EU nationals working...

Rumours of the SNP's demise are exaggerated
9 October 2017

Commentators have taken the 2017 general election result as a sign of the SNP's demise, but polling analysis suggests the party's position remains solid

Share this page