Letter: Nicola Sturgeon is a gifted orator, but was not a good political leader

A letter from Lorna Smyth:
Nicola Sturgeon arriving at her home in Glasgow on Thursday,  a day after announcing that she will stand down as First Minister for Scotland after eight years. In that post she was responsible for many political failures. Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA WireNicola Sturgeon arriving at her home in Glasgow on Thursday,  a day after announcing that she will stand down as First Minister for Scotland after eight years. In that post she was responsible for many political failures. Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
Nicola Sturgeon arriving at her home in Glasgow on Thursday, a day after announcing that she will stand down as First Minister for Scotland after eight years. In that post she was responsible for many political failures. Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Despite Nicola Sturgeon’s resignation being hailed as a shock, should we really be surprised?

There are some who laud the Scottish National Party (SNP) leader as a leading politician of our time however a distinction must be made between a good political orator and a leading politician.

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When Nicola Sturgeon took over as SNP leader in 2014 Scotland was ranked the most highly educated country on Europe and one of the best in the world. Fast forward to today and Scotland’s education now only participates in one international ranking comparison the OECD PISA which measures the capabilities of 15-year-olds in reading, maths and science, in the latter two subjects Scotland now falls behind England.

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There are now 332 fewer schools in Scotland and 1,519 fewer teachers. The amount of pupils from a lower income household to attend university has dropped to just over 14%. Nicola Sturgeon once said that we should judge her on education, the statistics speak for themselves.

This is not the only thing we must judge her tenure as first minister on other long-standing issues include but are not limited to the decline of the NHS, with A&E waiting times being missed every week, GPs walking away from surgeries and delayed hospital discharges.

Scottish citizens now pay the highest rate of income tax in the UK. There is the ferry crisis which the SNP were warned about in 2011, serious investment was needed to arrest the decline of the nation’s lifeline island fleet.

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Since the SNP came to power, the average age of Scotland’s essential vessels has soared from 17 years to 23.6 years. Two new ferries were originally due to enter service on the Arran and Skye/Outer Hebrides routes in 2018/19, only one was delivered last year with the second being delivered this year coming in over budget at a cost of between £110 million and £114 million.

Rail services are being cut.

Vital road upgrades to the A9 and A96 have never materialised despite appearing in their manifesto. Crime is on the rise with an 18% increase in homicides, although cutting police numbers by 643 would have that effect.

During the Salmond inquiry Nicola Sturgeon was found by the committee to have potentially breached the ministerial code, a payout of £512,250 was made to Alex Salmond.

Then we have the SNP appointed Lord Advocate who admitted the Crown Office maliciously prosecuted individuals involved in the Rangers takeover – costing taxpayers £39.9 million.

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It doesn’t stop there, we have the SNPs Hate Crime Bill which criminalises what you say in your own home.

They failed to implement Michelle’s Law and Suzanne’s Law despite repeated promises made to families and victims.

There was the draconian measures the SNP took during Covid which mainly affected school children. And of course more recently the outrage that is the Gender Recognition Reform Bill, which when questioned on Ms Sturgeon could not explain herself.

There is also the small issue of a missing £600,000 and a donation made to the party by her husband of which she claims no knowledge of.

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There is much more that could be said in the failures of Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP and the cost to Scottish citizens, the point being made here though is that really none of us should be surprised, being a gifted political orator which Nicola Sturgeon most certainly is, does not equate to being a good leader.

Something our politicians here in Northern Ireland should remember.

Lorna Smyth, Conlig, Co Down