Ruth Dudley Edwards: Under Nicola Sturgeon, I had long seen the SNP adopting Sinn Fein practices

​I could never bear Nicola Sturgeon. It wasn’t because of her politics. I like many people I don’t agree with. But her narcissism and self-righteousness made my flesh creep. And I thought it a disgrace that her husband Peter Murrell was the chief executive of her party.
​Nicola Sturgeon resigned as first minister of Scotland just under a year ago. She is due to give evidence at the covid enquiry this week​Nicola Sturgeon resigned as first minister of Scotland just under a year ago. She is due to give evidence at the covid enquiry this week
​Nicola Sturgeon resigned as first minister of Scotland just under a year ago. She is due to give evidence at the covid enquiry this week

​And covid made everything worse. She used her position as first minister to mount a TV pulpit every evening and claim fluently and convincingly how much better her government was at handling the crisis than the useless shambolic crew in Westminster.

Most of the media swallowed her narrative whole and obligingly extolled her competence and denigrated Boris Johnson.

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Under Sturgeon, who became leader in 2014, I had long seen the Scottish National Party was adopting Sinn Féin practices.

Leaders of both were, in my opinion, mendacious, secretive and tunnel-visioned, and deliberately weaponised the pandemic in the interests of fomenting Anglophobia to turbo-charge their independence movements.

Sinn Féin disseminated the warped version of Irish history summed up by the acronym devised by the historian Liam Kennedy — MOPE: the Most Oppressed People Ever.

The SNP’s was in the spirit of the movie Braveheart, which the writer John O’Farrell claimed could not have been more inaccurate if a plasticine dog were added to the cast and the film retitled William Wallace and Gromit.

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Like Queen Elizabeth, Sturgeon was small (just shy of 5 feet 4) and needed to stand out in a crowd, so as party leader she adopted the royal wardrobe of primary colours, had a hairdresser on the payroll and became perceived as cool and elegant, a useful contrast to Johnson.

And like Sinn Féin, the SNP used aggression and negativity to suggest strength.

Somehow, because Scotland had become virtually a one-party, heavily-centralised state, senior civil servants had been corrupted to serve the independence agenda, dissidents had been frightened into silence, the media were largely supine, bad news was suppressed and good shamelessly exaggerated, and Sturgeon’s outstanding presentation skills made the public largely believe their government was competent and honest.

I can’t resist quoting the commentator Alex Massie’s choice of a 2020 video from Scottish channel STV, as “the lowest moment in Scottish public life in the devolution era…Accompanied by a soundtrack of tinkling piano music, the children took it in turns to incant a special message for the people of Scotland…It began unpromisingly. ‘The children of Scotland would like to say thank you — to Nicola, our first minister of Scotland.’ And then it got very much worse. ‘We are so grateful. Thank you for always keeping us safe. Working so hard. For being strong for us. Thank you for caring for every individual life and for always thinking about the children of Scotland. Thank you, Nicola.’

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“This nauseating spectacle, which might have seemed over the top in North Korea or Saddam Hussein’s Iraq or any of a dozen other totalitarian regimes, was approved for release by multiple people not all of whom, we must presume, had obviously lost their minds.”

The cult went on growing until early last year when skeletons began peeping out of cupboards and Sturgeon resigned unexpectedly.

Sinn Féin were desolate. “She has been an incredible advocate for the independence of her country, and I know that she will remain so as she steps down from office”, said Mary Lou McDonald. “She has taken a strong stance against Brexit and its impact on Scotland, as well as the undermining of devolved institutions by the Tories in London.

“She leaves a strong legacy, and I want to take this opportunity to offer my warmest regards and best wishes to Nicola and her husband Peter for the future.”

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The skeletons began tumbling out, Sturgeon’s husband was arrested and it gradually became clear her covid record was no better than Johnson’s and under her major public services like education, health and transport had been run appallingly badly.

Her popularity is now at rock bottom. Meanwhile Sinn Féin are sliding in the polls, unable to find the lies to please middle Ireland and the left simultaneously on the issue of immigration.

McDonald and Sturgeon will be under hitherto brutal levels of scrutiny.

It’ll be fun seeing how Sturgeon gets on tomorrow at the covid enquiry in Edinburgh and how McDonald squares her circle.