Nicola Sturgeon survives vote of no confidence
NICOLA Sturgeon has seen off a Conservative vote of no confidence in her leadership.
The First Minister hit back at Ruth Davidson's party, saying she would not be bullied out of office by the opposition.
The Tory motion was defeated by 65 votes to 31.
While the SNP and Greens all backed the First Minister, the Tories and Lib Dem Mike Rumbles voted for no confidence.
Labour, the four remaining Lib Dems, and independent MSP Andy Wightman all abstained.
Opening the debate, Scottish Tory Holyrood leader, Ruth Davidson, said it would have been “honourable” for Sturgeon to stand down after the publication of the harassment committee’s report. Five of the inquiry’s nine members claimed the First Minster had misled parliament and ignored legal advice.
“After all that evidence-gathering and deliberation, the committee found that Nicola Sturgeon misled this parliament, nothing can erase that fact, however inconvenient it is to the First Minister and her supporters,” she said.
“And let’s remember, that by misleading this Scottish Parliament, she misled the people of Scotland too.
“No First Minister who truly wanted to live up to the ideals of this parliament should feel able to continue in post after having been judged guilty of misleading it.
“How can parliament have confidence in the words of a First Minister when those words have been found to be false?
“The honourable thing would be to resign.
“Whether the First Minister has that sense of honour is now between her and her conscience.”
Responding, the SNP leader pointed to the investigation by James Hamilton which cleared her of breaching the ministerial code.
“Had Mr Hamilton’s report gone the other way, I would have accepted it, had he found that I had breached the code in anything other than the most technical and immaterial of ways, I would have been standing here right now tendering my resignation,” she said.
“The integrity of the office I am so privileged to hold really does matter to me.
“The office of First Minister is more important than any temporary incumbent of it.”
The First Minister told the Tories: “If you think you can bully me out of office, you are mistaken and you misjudge me.
“If you want to remove me as First Minister do it in an election.”
She added: “If today’s desperate political stunt proves anything, it is that you have no confidence whatsoever in your ability to do so, because you have nothing positive to offer the Scottish people.”
Labour leader Anas Sarwar criticised both the Scottish Government and the Tories.
He said his party would not support the motion, adding: “We cannot support a motion which is designed, not to deliver the kind of strong opposition they promised, but purely at dividing our country and our politics still further.
“A failing government on one hand; a game-playing opposition on the other.
“Our politics must be better than this. Our people deserve better than this.
“For the sake of the people of Scotland, coming through Covid, and with the huge challenge and task that faces us, we can’t come back to this.
“Scotland deserves a better government; and it deserves a better opposition.”
Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie was furious at the leaking of evidence from the committee. Over the weekend, the Sunday Times obtained the testimony of the two women who initially complained about Salmond.
They’ve made a formal complaint, calling it "a violation of the trust we placed in the committee".
Harvie said: “The only resignations I have any interest in debating today are those of the committee members who have so systematically broken our rules, abused the trust of witnesses, and played childish games with the serious issue they were asked to examine.
“They are the ones who should be resigning today. And any political party that wants to come out of this episode with a shred of credibility will do whatever it takes to identify the culprits and ensure that they are not able to stand for re-election in six weeks’ time.”
After the vote, Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross hit out at Labour for abstaining.
He said: "They are too weak to stand up to an SNP First Minister who mislead the Scottish Parliament and the people of Scotland.
"It was a pathetic display and confirms to voters that Labour serves no useful purpose and cannot be trusted."