Nicola Sturgeon fought back tears as she mounted a robust defence of her legacy in her final statement at Holyrood as First Minister. The departing SNP leader said the Scottish Child Payment, extra childcare for parents and minimum unit pricing were among her proudest achievements.
She also said her status as the first female First Minister would give all women and girls the belief they could hold the highest office in the land. Sturgeon took over from Alex Salmond in 2014 and her eight years in charge covered covid, Brexit and calls for indyref2
The longest-serving First Minister has also been criticised for her performance on domestic policy, such as on drugs deaths, the educational attainment gap, massive NHS lists and the failure to complete two ferries.
Addressing MSPs, she said it had been a “profound honour” to lead the Government and said tackling the pandemic had “defined” her time in office.
She said: “Being First Minister has been variously often all at once challenging, exhilarating and exhausting. Every single day without exception, it has been an utter privilege.”
In a message to her potential successors, she urged the next first minister not to “shy away” from the “big challenges”.
She said: “Next week, we will find out whose portrait will go alongside me on the stairwell of Bute House, subject to this chamber’s approval. It will either be Scotland’s second female first minister, or the first from a minority ethnic background.”
She added: “Never forget that everything in this office is an opportunity to make something better for someone somewhere in Scotland.
“Do not shy away from the big challenges that are difficult. You won’t get everything right. But it is always better to try to aim high and fall short than to not try at all.”
She also emphasised her pride at the Bute House Agreement with the Scottish Greens. She concluded: “Whether you voted for me or not… thank you so much for placing your trust in me.
“Words will never adequately convey the gratitude and the awe I hold in my heart for the opportunity I have had to serve as your First Minister. It truly has been the privilege of my lifetime.”
Sturgeon also singled out Deputy First Minster John Swinney, who is also leaving the Government, as her "best friend". She also praised special advisers who have served as her chief of staff, her security team, Bute House staff and private office staff.
To sign up to the Daily Record Politics newsletter, click here.