By Bill Heaney
Nicola Sturgeon was told in the Scottish Parliament today that no amount of spin and secrecy could disguise her record of failure and division as First Minister.
At her final outing for FMQs before she walks away leaving Scotland both sick and skint, Douglas Ross listed numerous policy areas in which her government had fallen short and concluded she had “failed in every mission she set herself”.
The Scottish Conservative leader highlighted Nicola Sturgeon’s broken promise to close the educational attainment gap, as well as record drugs deaths, one in seven Scots languishing on NHS waiting lists, the ferries scandal and the divisive obsession with independence as legacies of her reign.
Tory leader Douglas Ross and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
He added that “shameless political spin” had been the hallmark of the retiring First Minister’s time in office – and that this had continued to the very end, with the SNP lying to the press and public last week, leading to the resignation of both the party’s chief executive and communications chief.
Douglas Ross said: “Shameless political spin has dominated the First Minister’s time in office, but it can’t disguise her actual record.
“On Nicola Sturgeon’s watch, Scotland’s schools plummeted down international league tables.
“She made no progress on the attainment gap and broke her promise to close it completely.
“The Named Persons Act, the Hate Crime Act, the Gender Recognition Bill were all unworkable.
“Drug deaths in Scotland remain the worst in Europe – five times higher than anywhere else in the UK.
“One in seven Scots are on an NHS waiting list right now.
“And on her final day in the chamber as First Minister, a cross-party committee of this parliament delivered a damning report on ferries.
“They found that Nicola Sturgeon personally intervened to prioritise vanity over vessels, leading to huge delays and costing the taxpayer hundreds of millions of pounds.
“On these and so many other issues, Nicola Sturgeon ignored Scotland’s real priorities in favour of her obsession with independence.
“She divided our country and failed in every mission she set herself. That is the truth of the First Minister’s legacy.”
The Scottish Daily Express reported later that Sturgeon was accused of treating the public like “idiots” after the SNP “lied” about their membership figures.
And that the outgoing SNP leader was “supported by hostile screaming” by her back-bench MSPs who attempted to drown out Douglas Ross “as he skewered her on her failings during her time in Bute House”.
Mr Ross clashed with Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone for using the word “lies” which is banned from use at Holyrood as he pointed out that the “house that Salmond, Sturgeon and Murrell” built was collapsing around them.
He was referencing the scandal surrounding the SNP which broke last week, when it was revealed that the party had misled journalists on how many members they had.
They scathingly responded to a Sunday Mail report about an alleged loss of 30,000 members in three years, before publishing figures which showed that it was in fact true.
It led to the high-profile resignations of SNP head spin doctor Murray Foote, who claimed he was fed the wrong numbers by HQ, and then chief executive Peter Murrell who quit and said he did not mean to mislead journalists.
Mr Ross used this as an attack like at FMQs, as he said: “The First Minister’s party said this when asked by journalists last month if they had lost 30,000 members: ‘As the SNP clearly stated when asked, fewer than 300 members have left the party over the period’.
“‘This story is both malicious and wholly inaccurate. Fortunately, few people are gullible enough to believe it.’
“It’s since emerged that the story is 100% correct. Why did Nicola Sturgeon’s party, the party of government in this Parliament, lie to the press and the public?
“The SNP said this story was ‘flat wrong’, ‘malicious’ and ‘wholly inaccurate’. They said nobody was ‘gullible’ enough to believe it. But the truth is, the SNP lied. That’s why the chief executive and their head of communications resigned.
“The First Minister’s farewell tour this week has been a masterclass in deceit and political spin. She was too busy for the Scottish Affairs Select Committee but somehow managed to eek out time in her schedule to sit down on Loose Women and debate great matters of state with Janet Street Porter.
“She claims to have left her successor with a ‘brilliant foundation.’ First Minister, that’s all that’s left, the foundation. The house that Sturgeon, Salmond and Murrell built is collapsing.”
More on this in The Democrat later today …