I would totally agree with those who say that Nicola Sturgeon is by far the best leader of a political party in the UK and probably the best First Minister we could have hoped for in these times. Although looking at those other leaders this must be considered faint praise. The bar is low. But Nicola Sturgeon clears it by a very large margin indeed.
Having said that, I am not so shallow-minded as to suppose that because she is unquestionably a very fine First Minister in general terms she must perforce be regarded as infallible. Far too many people refuse to countenance any criticism of any aspect of her performance. Far too many people appear to consider it unthinkable that Sturgeon should be subject to the same scrutiny as would be considered essential in all other cases. This is stupid and dangerous. Putting any politician or party above scrutiny is arguably the most serious dereliction of our democratic duty as citizens.
I find no contradiction whatever in acknowledging Nicola Sturgeon’s superiority to other political leaders in the UK (and beyond!) while also recognising that she has performed very poorly on the constitutional issue. I am unable to deny the evidence and the observable reality of Scotland’s predicament. Taking all relevant factors into account, we are further from restoring Scotland’s independence than we were ten years ago. Support for Yes has not increased at all in the eight years since Nicola Sturgeon became the de facto leader of Scotland’s independence movement. And this while she herself stressed the importance of persuading people about independence. According to the best evidence we have, she persuaded not a single person.
Sturgeon is not short of talent. Neither is she lacking apologists who make it their mission to rationalise and excuse every failing and failure ─ all too often refusing to even admit even the possibility failings and failures. This is totally irresponsible. It is this neglect of scrutiny which has allowed the independence campaign to stagnate. And I say this as one who, as a member of the party and conference delegate at a critical time, is as guilty as anyone in this regard.
I realised my error and have been working to try and make amends. Others too are waking up to the reality of where Scotland’s cause stands right now. There has to be a change of approach to the constitutional issue. Hard as it may be for some to swallow, Nicola Sturgeon may be a fine First Minister, but as leader of the independence movement she has been abysmal.
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