I woke up this morning with some life admin planned out for the day. Maybe hit the gym or relax on my day off.
I then seen this headline on BBC Scotland at half 7 this morning and thought 'och here we f*cking go.' Excuse the language, just being honest.
Granted there was always going to be a lot of noise surrounding any media appearance of Nicola Sturgeon's these days, I wasn’t fazed by a lot of the build-up to this morning… but seeing this headline in particular reminded me of what was actually coming.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that we live in the kind of democracy in which politicians are monitored and scrutinised. It’s important decision-making doesn’t go under the radar.
Yet there’s something about Nicola Sturgeon that makes commentators see red. Unreasonably so. I can’t remember, for instance, her predecessor Alex Salmond getting as much hate as she gets.
And with hate comes cynicism. Hate thwarts judgement. It refrains us from our natural instinct to see the good in people (at least for most of us).
With respect to James Cook of the BBC, the article author, I don’t think this headline would’ve been made this morning for a Labour politician. I might be wrong, but that's my genuine opinion having seen the sensational coverage of Nicola Sturgeon over the years.
Perhaps this isn't the personal intention of James Cook, that I can't speculate... but I do gather a real sense of desperation amongst political commentators that Nicola Sturgeon's legacy goes down on record as something negative.
This isn't an unfounded claim, however. He does start the article by launching in with several reasons why some thought poorly of Nicola Sturgeon and doesn't bother to give us reasons why people thought highly of her.
He doesn’t mention Scotland leading the way in challenging child poverty, with a distance compared to the rest of the UK. Or how she kept Scottish industry in public hands so Scots without a bolt, for instance, will never have their clean water tap turned off. Or how she’s saved people fortunes with tuition fees, prescriptions or public travel.
This might seem trivial, but it sets the tone.
Not to mention a couple of wild statements in the article...
…a charge, so it seems, based on opinion without reference and stereotyping.
Sky News probably thought… ach well, if the BBC are stirring the pot, let’s have it:
Why was the tension palpable for Nicola Sturgeon specifically? She’s been very clear that deleting WhatsApp messaging, if that was the cause, was the advice for government ministers because information held on a mobile phone could be lost or stolen. Ask her UK Counterparts.
Was there a prior, political agenda to the inquiry for Nicola Sturgeon specifically? I wouldn't have thought so... but if you would believe this, the official Twitter page was following one account and one account only prior to the hearing. This would certainly raise suspicion to some.
From The National.
The Inquiry, of course, is to hear from decision-makers to gain an understanding of decisions made. It would be important, therefore, to hear the context and reasoning behind certain decisions.
Like when the First Minister was grappling with a ridiculous amount of data, advice, problems, discussion, information, meetings… there may have been a moment or two where she felt crises or conflict in the decisions she’d then have to relay to the public. A moment or two where it would feel “impossible” to please everyone or not cause harm in some way.
Not helped, of course, by the magnitude of the situation affecting how much rest she got at times. Having not had a day off in what was approaching two years.
All of which meant proper and robust process that was followed was incredibly important, something she stresses.
You could see why, then, this reference from the BBC would be unhelpful for those seeking clarity who weren’t able to watch the interview in full today:
Nicola Sturgeon withstood over 6 hours of questioning today.
She appeared nervous at times to begin with… I’d give sceptics that. I personally didn’t see that cynically, I seen a human being with the weight of the British establishment coming after her for the umpteenth time. Maybe I’m biased, as someone that’s always liked and respected Nicola Sturgeon and what she stands for.
I spent my day off today, albeit regrettably as it didn't feel like a day off, either watching or listening to that Inquiry. I can say with absolute sincerity that not once did Nicola Sturgeon give me reason to believe she acted on unreasonable grounds. Not once did she appear like she had anything to hide. Not once did she politicise the pandemic or appear disingenuous as she poured her heart out expressing her best intentions.
As far as I can see, this was the account of an outstanding public servant that did her best during an immensely difficult time.
I can understand criticisms for her cuts to the mental health and drugs budget under her later tenure as FM. I can understand criticisms of her approach to education, or her views of the constitution should you swing the other way.
...but attempting to smear her service during the pandemic just seems wild to me.