Nicola Sturgeon

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Person.png Nicola Sturgeon   Powerbase WebsiteRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(lawyer, politician)
Nicola Sturgeon1.jpg
BornNicola Ferguson Sturgeon
19 July 1970
Irvine, Scotland
Alma materUniversity of Glasgow
SpousePeter Murrell
Member ofTrilateral Commission
PartyScottish National Party
Scottish National Party MSP for Glasgow Southside

Employment.png First Minister of Scotland Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
20 November 2014 - 27 March 2023
Preceded byAlex Salmond

Employment.png Leader of the Scottish National Party

In office
14 November 2014 - 27 March 2023
Succeeded byHumza Yousaf

Employment.png Deputy First Minister of Scotland

In office
17 May 2007 - 19 November 2014

Employment.png Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing

In office
17 May 2007 - 5 September 2012

Employment.png Depute Leader of the Scottish National Party

In office
3 September 2004 - 14 November 2014

Nicola Sturgeon who represents Glasgow Southside as its Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) is First Minister of Scotland and Leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), the first woman to hold either position.[1]

On 15 February 2023, Nicola Sturgeon announced her resignation as First Minister.[2]

Upon the election on 27 March 2023 of Humza Yousaf as her successor, Nicola Sturgeon formally tendered her resignation in a letter to King Charles III.[3]

Early life

Nicola Sturgeon was born in Irvine, North Ayrshire and educated at Greenwood Academy, Dreghorn, and later studied Scots Law at the University of Glasgow where she graduated with an LLB (Hons) and Diploma in Legal Practice.[4] At university, she was active in the SNP student wing through Glasgow University Scottish Nationalist Association. She worked as a solicitor in the Drumchapel Law Centre in Glasgow before becoming an MSP. She married Peter Murrell, the SNP's Chief Executive, on 16 July 2010. They had announced their engagement on 29 January 2010. Her mother, Joan Sturgeon, is SNP Provost of North Ayrshire Council where she has been councillor for the Irvine East ward since 2007.

Political career

Early political career

Sturgeon joined the Scottish National Party in 1986 and became Youth Affairs Vice Convener and Publicity Vice Convener. She first stood for election in the 1992 UK election as SNP's candidate in the Glasgow Shettleston constituency, and was the youngest parliamentary candidate in Scotland, although she failed to win the seat.

The 1997 general election saw Sturgeon selected to fight the Glasgow Govan seat for the SNP. Boundary changes meant that the notional Labour majority in the seat had increased substantially; however, infighting between the two rival candidates for the Labour nomination, Mohammed Sarwar and Mike Watson, along with an energetic local campaign, resulted in Glasgow Govan being the only Scottish seat to see a swing away from Labour in the midst of a Labour landslide UK-wide.

Scottish Parliament

Sturgeon stood for election to the Scottish Parliament in the 2003 elections for the Glasgow Govan constituency. However she failed to win this constituency on both occasions. However in both elections, she was placed first in the regional list for the Glasgow region and was thus elected as an SNP additional member. She was elected to the SNP national executive, and she was appointed the party's spokeswoman for health, education and later for justice.

2004 SNP leadership contest

On 22 June 2004, John Swinney resigned as leader of the SNP, following poor results in the 2004 European Parliament election]]. His depute, Roseanna Cunningham, announced her intention to stand for the leadership, and previous leader, Alex Salmond stated that he would not stand and refuse nomination.[5] On 24 June 2004, Nicola Sturgeon announced that she would also be a candidate in the forthcoming election for the leadership of the Scottish National Party, with Kenny MacAskill as her running mate for the Depute leadership.[6]

However, Alex Salmond later staged a u-turn and announced he intended to stand (to resume the leadership, which he had resigned in 2000). Sturgeon withdrew from the contest and declared her support for Salmond, standing instead for the depute leadership. It was reported that Salmond had privately supported Sturgeon in her leadership bid, but decided to run for the position himself as it became apparent she was unlikely to beat Roseanna Cunningham.[7] The majority of the SNP hierarchy lent their support to the Salmond-Sturgeon bid for the leadership, although MSP Alex Neil backed Salmond as leader, but refused to endorse Sturgeon as depute leader.[8]

The results of the leadership contest were announced on 3 September 2004, with Salmond and Sturgeon elected as Leader and Depute Leader. As Salmond was still an MP in the House of Commons, Sturgeon would lead the SNP at the Scottish Parliament until the 2007 election, when Salmond was elected as an MSP.[9]

Depute Leader

First Minister Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon, launching the "National Conversation" (14 August 2007)

As leader of the SNP in the Scottish Parliament, Nicola Sturgeon became a high profile figure in Scottish politics, and regularly clashed with the former First Minister, Jack McConnell at First Minister's Question Time. This included rows over the House of Commons' decision to replace the Trident nuclear weapon system; and the SNP's plans to replace council tax in Scotland with a local income tax.[10]

Sturgeon defeated Gordon Jackson with a 4.7% swing to the SNP in the 2007 Scottish Parliamentary election in Glasgow Govan. The SNP won 9,010 votes (41.9%) which was an increase of +10.7% while Labour received 8,266 votes or 38.4%. After the SNP's victory at the 2007 Scottish Parliament Election, Sturgeon was appointed as the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing. She is supported in this role by Shona Robison MSP, the Minister for Public Health and Sport and by Alex Neil MSP, the Minister for Housing and Communities.

Acting in her capacity as Scottish Health Secretary Sturgeon has had a key role reporting the Scottish Government's response to the 2009 swine flu outbreak.[11]

In December 2012 at Ferguson Shipbuilders in Port Glasgow, Sturgeon launched the Caledonian MacBrayne hybrid vessel MV Hallaig.[12]

On 21 December 2013, Nicola Sturgeon attended the 25th anniversary of the Lockerbie air disaster remembrance service at Westminster Abbey.

Scottish independence

Nicola Sturgeon joined the SNP at the age of sixteen, and has been working for an independent Scotland ever since. In 2012, Sturgeon was appointed to persuade Scottish voters to vote "Yes" in the 2014 Referendum on Scottish independence. Sturgeon has insisted that independence would allow Scotland to build a stronger and more competitive country.[13]

Following the Scottish independence referendum on 18 September 2014, when voters rejected the idea of leaving the United Kingdom by 55% to 45%, Alex Salmond announced his resignation as First Minister and SNP leader. Nicola Sturgeon was widely expected to succeed him as Scottish First Minister.[14][15] Nominations for the position closed on 15 October, with Sturgeon confirmed as the only candidate. She was formally acclaimed as leader of the SNP on 14 November, and elected to succeed Salmond as First Minister on 19 November 2014. She was officially sworn into the post the following day.[16]

2015 landslide

On 7 May 2015, Nicola Sturgeon's SNP recorded an historic landslide General Election victory in Scotland, winning 56 out of 59 seats. She told the BBC:

"Given that we are, unfortunately, facing another Conservative government, it's all the more important that we've got a strong team of SNP MPs standing up for Scotland. The government at Westminster cannot ignore what has happened in Scotland, people have voted overwhelmingly for Scotland's voice to be heard and for an end to austerity."[17]

David Cameron’s plans to devolve more powers to Scotland do not go “far enough”, Nicola Sturgeon has said, as she warned the Prime Minister that he has “no right” to rule out a second referendum on independence.[18]

When the EU Referendum results were published on 24 June 2016, the vote was split between the constituent countries of the United Kingdom, with England and Wales voting to Leave, and Scotland and Northern Ireland voting to Remain. Nicola Sturgeon said it was "clear that the people of Scotland see their future as part of the European Union," and that officials would plan for a "highly likely" second referendum on independence from the United Kingdom.[19]

On 13 March 2017, Nicola Sturgeon announced she would seek Scottish Parliament approval for a second independence referendum to be held between Autumn 2018 and Spring 2019.[20][21]

On 9 October 2017, at the start of the SNP conference, Nicola Sturgeon spoke about #indyref2:

"Let me just say, for the sake of clarity... we have a mandate for this parliament. We won that mandate last year but after the General Election I heard clearly people saying with the uncertainty of Brexit it was premature to be definitive about a timescale right now. So I have said I will not consider the timescale until there is a greater clarity about the Brexit talks. I am not going to go any further than that, that's my position."[22]

"Crassly insensitive"

Nicola Sturgeon and Alastair Campbell at the People's Vote rally, 23 March 2019

On 3 May 2016, former MEP Hugh Kerr resigned from the SNP in protest after Nicola Sturgeon "endorsed" The Scottish Sun newspaper days after the Hillsborough inquest verdicts. Kerr said the First Minister's decision to pose with the newspaper was "crassly insensitive".[23]

On 23 March 2019, Craig Murray wrote:

"For me, the death of millions of people in the Middle East, and Alastair Campbell’s role in the deliberate manufacture of a dossier of lies to cause an aggressive war that led to those deaths, were life-changing events. It led me to pursue the end of the imperialist British state.

"If you think that the Iraq war was just a forgivable policy error I do not want your money. If you think that consorting gleefully with war criminals is a sensible bit of realpolitik I do not want your money.

"Nicola Sturgeon spoke at the pro-EU rally today. It has been explained to me by countless people these five years that Nicola cannot speak at pro-Indy rallies – and she has not done so since 2013 – because as First Minister she has to maintain dignity and not take controversial political stances. If you think it is fine for Nicola to show zero interest to speak at pro-Indy rallies, yet show huge enthusiasm to join the Blairites at this event, I do not want your money."[24]


She encourages people to take a COVID test every time they leave their home.[25]

In December 2021, she encouraged people to cancel their Christmas parties due to the omicron variant.[26]

The impact of her lockdowns and mandates during COVID-19 has been "worth it".[27]


Nicola Sturgeon wearing a Ukraine face mask in order to virtue signal.

Sturgeon has championed NATO.[28] She went to Washington DC and spoke at the Brookings Institution, saying that NATO membership is 'essential' for an independent Scotland.[29] She is letting Ukrainian refugees into her own home.[30] She was criticised by Michelle Dewberry for neglecting domestic homelessness.[31]

Awards and acknowledgements

Sturgeon won the Scottish Politician of the Year Award in 2008. In 2004 and 2008 she also won the Donald Dewar Debater of the Year award at the same event which is organised by The Herald newspaper.

In February 2013 she was assessed as the 20th most powerful woman in the United Kingdom by Woman's Hour on BBC Radio 4.[32]

Personal life

Nicola currently lives in Glasgow with her husband Peter Murrell, who is the current chief executive of the Scottish National Party (SNP).


Appointments by Nicola Sturgeon

Kate ForbesScotland/Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy17 February 2020
Humza YousafScotland/Cabinet Secretary for Justice26 June 201820 May 2021
Humza YousafScotland/Cabinet Secretary for Transport and the Islands18 May 201626 June 2018
Humza YousafScotland/Cabinet Secretary for Europe and International Development6 September 201218 May 2016
Humza YousafScotland/Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care20 May 202127 March 2023


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  1. "Nicola Sturgeon MSP"
  2. Document:Nicola Sturgeon – Used and Discarded
  3. "Nicola Sturgeon formally resigns as first minister"
  12. Nicola Sturgeon launches pioneering hybrid ferry from Port Glasgow shipyard
  13. "Scotland's Independence"
  14. "Statement from First Minister Alex Salmond"
  17. "Election 2015: SNP wins 56 of 59 seats in Scots landslide"
  18. "Nicola Sturgeon warns David Cameron: Referendum decision lies with the Scottish public"
  19. "Scotland Seeks Independence Again After UK 'Brexit' Vote"
  20. "It’s Scotland’s Choice"
  21. "Sturgeon announces she will seek authority for indyref2"
  22. "Nicola Sturgeon suggests second Scottish independence referendum could be held in next four years"
  23. "Former MEP quits SNP over Sturgeon's 'endorsement' of The Sun"
  24. "Please Cancel Your Subscriptions"
  32. "BBC Radio 4, Woman's Hour Power list"

External links

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