Nicola Sturgeon has launched the Scottish National party’s election campaign with an apparent criticism of Alex Salmond’s “self interest” and a reference to those who “treat politics like a game”.
In a pre-recorded address to the SNP’s campaign conference, the first minister did not reference her former mentor by name, but said: “In politics, things that once seemed desperately important feel so much less so now. I don’t have much time these days for the who’s up, who’s down approach to politics, and I definitely have much less patience for those who treat politics like a game, and for indulging anyone who puts self-interest ahead of the country’s best interests.
“If the last year has taught us anything, it is that politics is about improving people’s lives, or it is about nothing at all.”
Sturgeon’s comments follow Salmond’s announcement last week that he would be the leader of the new pro-independence Alba party. Since its launch, Neale Hanvey and Kenny MacAskill, two former SNP MPs, have defected to the party.
Sturgeon also used the address to reflect on what it has been like to lead Scotland through the coronavirus pandemic. “The sacrifices that we are all making, each and every day, are saving lives,” Sturgeon said. She added that although coronavirus “is down and we have much more reason now to be hopeful for the future”, it was “not yet out”.
Sturgeon also highlighted the issue of independence, saying that once the pandemic was over, Scottish voters should have the right to decide on whether they want to secede from the UK.
Sturgeon said: “Never again will it be possible for a Westminster government to take Scotland in the wrong direction. A vote for the SNP in this election is a vote to re-elect me and the SNP government to continue to lead Scotland safely through the pandemic. But it is also a vote for your right, when the crisis is over, to choose independence.
“Independence is not a distraction from recovery. It is essential to secure a recovery that is made here in Scotland and based on the values the majority of us subscribe to," lei disse. Securing Scottish independence, for Sturgeon, would be “about putting Scotland’s recovery from coronavirus in Scotland’s hands”.
Sturgeon also criticised Boris Johnson’s recommendation of a 1% pay rise for NHS staff, detto: “I knew we had to do better here in Scotland.”
In response to Sturgeon’s address, Douglas Ross, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, disse: “Nicola Sturgeon’s conference speech ultimately all came down to one single issue – the SNP’s obsession with another divisive independence referendum. When all our focus should be on rebuilding Scotland, the SNP are intent on dividing Scotland all over again.”
Sturgeon’s address came after she was vindicated by an independent inquiry into whether she broke the ministerial code in her meetings with Salmond about the Scottish government’s inquiry into sexual harassment complaints against him.