Sturgeon’s character is rare within the divisive and corrupt state of British politicsFIRST MINISTER OF SCOTLAND | CREATIVE COMMONS

“In my head and in my heart I know that time is now, that it is right for me and my party and for the country.” On Wednesday 15 February, these words reverberated across the nation, representing a seismic shift in Scottish politics and throwing its government into disarray.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s longest-serving and only female First Minister, announced her resignation in a move not dissimilar from the burnout-induced resignation of New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern just last month. Attacked at every turn by the British media for her defence of trans rights, reckoning with the failings of the independence movement that she had dedicated her political career to, and simply out of “steam”, Sturgeon insisted she knew it was the right time to go.

While debates immediately opened up about who would succeed her, and what this will mean for the Scottish independence movement, I couldn’t help but notice the deep and undeniable undercurrent of loss that foregrounded much of the public sentiment towards Sturgeon’s departure, including my own. Even as someone who has lived in England their whole life, I felt like something important had been taken from me.

“Sturgeon stuck to her values when it really mattered”

Sturgeon’s most vehement supporters wouldn’t argue she was perfect – indeed, no politician is – but there is a reason her resignation will leave such a distinctive mark across the political spectrum: Nicola Sturgeon is and always has been a fundamentally decent and compassionate person. Her constituents recognise it; her nature is what has sustained her place in politics since 1999. Developed through her early activism and young anti-Thatcherite tendencies, Sturgeon realised her commitment to independence and social justice. She knew what she valued when she entered politics and, though she had to compromise at times, stuck to these values when it really mattered.

While this may not sound like all that much to ask for of an elected representative, someone of Sturgeon’s character feels rare within the increasingly divisive and corrupt state of British politics. Successive Tory governments have normalised dishonesty to such an extent that it is now genuinely shocking to me when an MP speaks from a place that resembles authenticity. The value-less, virtue-less haunts of Westminster make me lose just a little more faith in our political system each day.

The jeering, squawking chaos of Prime Minister’s Questions every Wednesday perfectly encapsulates this slow deterioration. As Sunak mindlessly churns out the same Party lies – sorry, I meant “lines” – and Starmer reneges on yet another of his Ten Pledges, I find myself yearning for a politics of decency, one that views its voters as people worthy of reasonableness and respect, one that values the promises it makes and at least tries to uphold them. Maybe this is why Sturgeon, with her undeniable dignity and humanity, always felt like a breath of fresh air to me.


Mountain View

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No one is arguing that strong values are all it takes to become a model politician – one need only look at the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg and the other hardline ERG Brexiters of the Conservative Party to realise the perils of total, unyielding integrity. Their absolutist commitment to “Taking Back Control” has cost the country a grave amount. Politics is fundamentally a mechanism of compromise and change. Equally, a complete lack of integrity can be just as damaging. Keir Starmer’s inability to produce a clear, consistent vision for the Labour Party epitomises this damage. Following that press conference last month (15/02), incessant anti-Corbynism seems to be his only maintained line of policy – and this only began after 2019. Do I even need to mention the unprecedented number of U-turns undertaken by the past few Prime Ministers?

Whether you agree with her policy or not, Sturgeon’s legacy as First Minister will be one distinct from that of today’s unscrupulous Westminster politics. We are tired of populist pandering and integrity-lacking politicians; Sturgeon was a beacon of sincerity in a poisoned sea of post-truth politics. There is an enduring sense that she always strove to be a true voice of the people. Although not without necessary critique, history will view Sturgeon’s nature with commendation. I think the next wave of politicians have much to learn from her.