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by Louise Wilson
09 March 2023
Nicola Sturgeon: Next FM must ensure public ‘keep placing trust’ in SNP

Nicola Sturgeon: Next FM must ensure public ‘keep placing trust’ in SNP

Nicola Sturgeon has warned her potential successors not to campaign in a way that puts public trust in the SNP at risk.

Responding to questions from Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross at FMQs, the First Minister was forced to defend her government’s record on the NHS, policing and transport.

It follows leadership contender and finance secretary Kate Forbes attacking Humza Yousaf's various roles in government during the STV debate on Tuesday night.

Forbes said: “You were a transport minister and the trains were never on time, when you were justice secretary the police were stretched to breaking point, and now as health minister we’ve got record-high waiting times.”

Several members of the SNP have raised concerns about the damage such comments will do to the party.

But Ross said the finance secretary had a "frank grasp" of the problems, adding it was a "quote sorted for every Scottish Conservative leaflet going forward". He said Nicola Sturgeon had "divided Scotland and now her departure is dividing her party".

Sturgeon said Ross was only focusing on the SNP leadership contest because he had "nothing positive to offer".

But she also said her advice to candidates would be for them not to undermine public trust in government. She said: “Being First Minister is hard, it’s tough, it is a massive responsibility.

“Whoever emerges in the position of First Minister and is standing here three weeks today has one overriding task, Presiding Officer: it is to govern and it is to serve in a way that inspires the people of Scotland to keep placing trust in us – just as they have done consistently since 2007 and just have they have done eight times over the eight years of my leadership.

“That’s what matters, because without that trust, nothing else is possible.”

Labour's Anas Sarwar focused on the government's record on the NHS, saying "incompetence in government means people losing their lives”.

He pointed to reports suggesting one in five people had had to seek private treatment due to NHS waits.

And raising the case of a sick child whose parents were considering fundraising to go private, he said: "Why are families having to contemplate paying to alleviate their child's pain?"

The First Minister acknowledged the problems facing the health service, adding: "That is why we are focusing on reforms to tackle those challenges."

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