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The National (Scotland)
The National (Scotland)
Adam Robertson

Nine of Nicola Sturgeon's best moments at FMQs

NICOLA Sturgeon is set to face her final FMQs as leader of the SNP on Thursday.

The First Minister posted a message of thanks to all those who have “supported” her during her time in the role on social media.

She will also give her final statement to the Scottish Parliament as First Minister and will carry out her last official engagement on Friday.

We took a look back through some of Sturgeon’s best moments at FMQs.

Labour needing volunteers

This is a strong contender for the top FMQs moment. It seemed that Scottish Labour were in such “dire straits” that they had to turn to the First Minister for a bit of assistance.

The FM explained how she had received an email from then Labour leader Kezia Dugdale asking her to be a volunteer on election day.

Even Dugdale struggled not to laugh and John Swinney was absolutely loving it.

“I think I’m busy that day”, the FM told a no-doubt disappointed Dugdale.

Richard Leonard’s ASTONISHING gaffe

Being First Minister isn’t an easy job, although former Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard went out of his way to make things that bit simpler for Nicola Sturgeon.

During his weekly FMQs slot, rather than going in on the SNP, he decided to slam Scottish Labour’s record.

Specifically, he referenced a report published about financed contracts for public infrastructure.

At the time Audit Scotland said Scotland’s public sector paid £13.1 billion in annual payments for a total of 136 projects since 1998-99.

There was just one problem, the buildings he was talking about were constructed under a Labour model as well as an SNP one.

At one point, the Presiding Officer had to intervene because of laughter from the SNP and Tory benches.

Ruth Davidson’s hypocrisy

One of many occasions in which Sturgeon showed up Ruth Davidson at FMQs came shortly after Davidson was gifted her Tory peerage by Boris Johnson.

Following a comment about Sturgeon’s Referendums Bill, the FM told the former Scottish Tory leader that she had the “brass neck to lecture the rest of us on scrutiny and accountability” while she prepared to take her seat in the House of Lords.

“There is no ermine cloak in the world that will cover up that hypocrisy”, she added.  

Douglas Ross mediocrity jibe

The First Minister has taken on her fair share of Tory leaders, both at Scottish and UK levels, during her time as leader of the SNP.

Many of the best moments at FMQs in recent years however have come during Sturgeon’s clashes with Douglas Ross.

Recently, Ross hit out at Sturgeon for comments made by Kate Forbes during the SNP leadership contest. He said: “Kate Forbes said more of the same is not a manifesto, it’s an acceptance of mediocrity.”

Sturgeon quickly replied: “I am very, very aware that for Douglas Ross mediocrity, of course, is a dizzy height that he’s never come close to achieving.”

The chamber erupted into laughter and applause with Sturgeon’s deputy John Swinney shouting “lovely”.

Response to ridiculous Brexit claim

The Tories do love trying to claim how Brexit has been a positive thing for Scotland.

However, Sturgeon was once left completely unimpressed when a Tory MSP suggested Brexit had nothing to do with the Scottish Parliament.

This led to the First Minister reeling off a list of ways in which leaving the EU has had a negative impact on Scotland from the slump in exports to making it harder to recruit staff into businesses.

Clashes with Scottish Labour

It’s not just the Tories that Sturgeon has clashed with down the years at FMQs, it’s also been a string of Scottish Labour leaders.

One awkward moment for Anas Sarwar’s party came when one of his own MSPs undermined his leader’s question, as Sturgeon was quick to call out.

Sarwar said it was “typical” of Sturgeon to bring up Wales when discussing the record of the NHS in Scotland.

Rather awkwardly, this was then followed by Labour MSP Michael Marra bringing up Wales.

Sturgeon said: “I’m not sure if that was a leadership bid that was being launched by Michael Marra there or if it was an entirely inadvertent attempt to undermine his leader, who has just told me that we should never talk about Wales in this chamber.

“Perhaps Michael Marra will want to qualify that in the future.”

Tories scolded for reaction to poverty question

Sturgeon once accused Conservative MSPs of becoming “uncomfortable” whenever poverty is mentioned.

It came in response to a question from an SNP MSP on the impact of the self-isolation support grant on low-income workers who suffered from Covid-19.

Amid groaning from the opposition, Sturgeon was quick to call out the behaviour of the Scottish Conservatives.

“It’s always really striking presiding officer just how uncomfortable the Scottish Conservatives get when poverty gets mentioned in this chamber.

“I’m not sure it’s always visible to people watching at home but the cat-calling and the heckling and the shuffling in the seats always starts from the Conservatives.”

Douglas Ross left fuming at pool jibe

Ross has been left fuming on a number of occasions at FMQs during his time as Scottish Tory leader.

One such instance occurred just last week when Sturgeon was asked about the potential closure of swimming pools across Scotland amid the cost of living crisis.

This came after it was revealed that Rishi Sunak’s private swimming pool used so much energy that the local electricity network had to be upgrade to meet is demands.

Following the question from Murdo Fraser, Sturgeon remarked: “I’m not sure whether Murdo Fraser has ever been invited to use the Prime Minister’s personal swimming pool.”

She then added: “Douglas Ross seems a bit sensitive about the Prime Minister’s private swimming pool, maybe he hasn’t had an invitation either.”

Anas Sarwar ‘all sound and fury’

Sturgeon previously clashed with Sarwar over council budgets at FMQs as the Scottish Labour leader said the blame for cuts lied solely with the Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Government.

As Sarwar continued speaking, Sturgeon could be seen laughing as she was asked to admit her financial plans were a failure.

She replied: “No matter how much Anas Sarwar raises his voice and shouts, it doesn’t cover up the fact that he has not brought forward a single proposal within a budget that is fully allocated for putting a single extra penny into local government budgets.

“That’s why he shouts because there is absolutely zero substance in anything he’s saying. All sound and fury and no substance is a good summary of Anas Sarwar.”

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