Sturgeon announces bid to lead Scottish National Party
Deputy first minister says Westminister parties must live up to referendum promises
Nicola Sturgeon (R), Scotland’s deputy first minister, has announced she is running to replace Alex Salmond (L), who announced he was stepping down after the independence referendum defeat. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA Wire.
Nicola Sturgeon has launched her bid to become the new leader of the Scottish National Party and Scotland’s first female first minister with an immediate warning to the Westminster parties that they will face an angry backlash if they fail to keep the promises they made on more powers for Holyrood.
In the final days of the independence referendum campaign, the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats pledged significant further devolution in the event of a No vote.
With Scotland voting to stay in the United Kingdom - a result which prompted Alex Salmond to announce his intention to resign as both SNP leader and Scottish first minister - Ms Sturgeon demanded that those promises be kept.
She said she would be a “willing partner for progress” in talks about transferring responsibility for more areas to the Scottish Parliament.
“If I am elected to lead, I pledge today that the SNP and the Scottish Government will be full, active, genuine and constructive participants in that process of change, wherever it happens - in Holyrood, in meeting rooms and, most importantly of all, in discussions across Scotland,” she said.
“There will be no sitting on the sidelines...But let me be equally clear what I believe Scotland expects of that process in return.”
She said the deal on more powers must be one “that maximises devolution in substance not just in rhetoric”and that she believed it was what “the majority of people of this country now want.”
Ms Sturgeon, who is stepping down as SNP deputy leader to run for the party’s top job, said the pro-UK parties had made a “clear and unmistakable” pledge that the package for Scotland would be “something near to federalism”.
She paid tribute to Mr Salmond, who has led the SNP for a total of 20 years and is now Scotland’s longest-serving first minister after more than seven years in the job. “Alex Salmond transformed the SNP and, as first minister, he has made Scotland a better place,” she said.
“He also helped to make me the person and politician I am today. The personal debt I owe him is immeasurable.
“I will be proud — if given the opportunity — to build on his remarkable legacy.”
Ms Sturgeon, who has been deputy leader of the SNP for the last 10 years and deputy first minister since 2007, said: “To be the first minister of my country, especially at this exciting and optimistic time, would be both a great honour - without doubt, the greatest honour - and an immense responsibility.”