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by Kirsteen Paterson
06 September 2023
Nicola Sturgeon calls for ‘more mature debate’ in first Holyrood speech as backbencher

Nicola Sturgeon MSP addresses the Scottish Parliament

Nicola Sturgeon calls for ‘more mature debate’ in first Holyrood speech as backbencher

Nicola Sturgeon has vowed to tackle “the state of our political discourse” in her first Scottish Parliament speech since stepping down as first minister. 

Speaking from the SNP backbenches, Sturgeon praised the Scottish Government's Programme for Government, which was unveiled yesterday by her successor Humza Yousaf. 

She said his commitments strike “a good balance between building on progress and breaking new ground”. 

And she said: “To say that my perspective on politics has altered would be an understatement.  

Certain things look different, perhaps clearer, from here than from the trenches of the political frontline.” 

She went on: “I accept my share of responsibility for the state of our political discourse. But if anything that makes me more determined to play a part in trying to change it. 

“Polarisation in politics is much maligned. It is the paralysis of action it results in that should worry us most.” 

Calling for “more mature debate” and “collective recognition” that challenges over inequality, climate and the economy require “tough” and even “unpopular” decisions” to be made, she said critical voices should not “become an automatic veto on change that is necessary”. 

Sturgeon – who was warned over her time under new speaking limits for MSPs and erroneously called “First Minister” by Deputy Presiding Officer Annabelle Ewing – went on: “Disagreement is the essence of democracy. It is part of what makes us human. 

“But it is up to us what dynamic that disagreement creates. Acrimony and stalemate? Or creative tension, based on civility and respect, that allows us to drive improvement for all. 

“I hope the coming term is characterised more by the latter than the former. If so, Scotland will be the winner.”

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