Sturgeon told to ‘drop independence obsession’ in 2019
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Mrs Sturgeon was due to be in the hot seat today for First Minister’s Questions (FMQs) in the Scottish Parliament. However, the SNP leader is absent for the weekly session due to her commitments at the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow. Deputy First Minister John Swinney is filling in for Mrs Sturgeon and facing questions from MSPs. He is being grilled by Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton, and Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie.
As the leader of a devolved nation of the UK, Mrs Sturgeon has not been involved in the negotiations at COP26.
However, she has still been meeting world leaders at the conference, including US President Joe Biden.
Today, the First Minister came under fire from many on Twitter as she posed for a picture with US congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at COP26.
As the pair were pictured holding a can of Scottish beverage Irn-Bru, some on social media questioned whether the First Minister did not have more important priorities.
In response to the photo opportunity, Twitter user @DRobert93707163 wrote: “That’s marvellous, but it’s just a pity, if not a tragedy that many people in Scotland don’t have direct access to the SNHS [NHS Scotland].”
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Mrs Sturgeon has been humiliated over her priorities before, including in relation to her party’s bid for Scottish independence from the UK.
The SNP has pledged to hold another independence referendum ‒ or ‘Indyref2’ – after Scots chose to stay in the UK at the last public vote on the issue in 2014.
An unearthed video from 2019 shows how she was eviscerated on the subject by Jackson Carlaw, the Scottish Conservative leader at the time.
Speaking during FMQs, he said “confidence was plummeting” in Mrs Sturgeon’s handling of Scotland’s public services and questioned why she was intent on Scotland leaving the UK.
Mr Carlaw said Mr Swinney, Scotland’s then-Education Secretary, had claimed the SNP Government’s “unwavering focus” was on “improving schools”.
However, he then added: “Nicola Sturgeon’s unwavering focus has not been on improving our schools but on forcing another independence referendum on Scotland.
“How much more Government failure does Scotland have to endure before you drop this obsession and get on with your job?”
The Scottish Tory leader’s comments came after the release of the latest PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) data.
It showed that reading had improved since 2015, but that performance in maths and science had slipped.
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Mr Carlaw said performance in the subjects had “never been lower”, while Mrs Sturgeon admitted the results were “not good enough”.
The First Minister said the Government was focusing on maths and science attainment in schools.
She said: “I am not standing here saying the performance in maths and science is for me or the Scottish Government acceptable, I am not saying that in any way, shape or form.
“But after we saw a significant decline in this study, we have seen a performance that has stabilised.
“We now intend to bring to bear initiatives and interventions that will see a similar improvement in maths and science to the improvement we have seen in this survey in reading and literacy.”
She also said Mr Carlaw’s comments were “a bit rich”, claiming that the Tories had imposed a “decade of austerity” on the country.
The fiery FMQs session also came the same day as Susan Deacon quit as chair of the Scottish Police Authority.
In her resignation letter she said that “governance and accountability arrangements for policing in Scotland are fundamentally flawed”.
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