Nicola Sturgeon pledges online Q&As with public

Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: PA
Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: PA
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NICOLA Sturgeon plans to hold monthly on-line question-and-answer sessions with the public once she becomes First Minister.

The move is designed to prove that the new SNP leader – who will be confirmed in post next month – wants to represent all the people in Scotland, not just the party’s supporters.

News of the online Q&A plans came as a survey revealed Ms Sturgeon is the politician most trusted to deliver extra powers to Scotland.

A source close to Ms Sturgeon was quoted saying: “Nicola is determined to lead an outward-looking government that is open and accessible to the public and this innovation will help ensure the SNP remain close to the people we serve, regardless of how they vote.”

The survey of almost 1000 people found 37 per cent trusted the SNP to deliver more powers for Scotland, with just 15 per cent trusting Labour, eight per cent the Conservatives and one per cent the Lib Dems, and 25 per cent saying they trusted none of the parties.

Given a list of prominent politicians, 24 per cent of those questioned said they trusted Ms Sturgeon to deliver more powers, 15 per cent trusted Gordon Brown, 12 per cent Alex Salmond, six per cent David Cameron, three per cent Alistair Darling, one per cent Ed Miliband and 0.5 per cent Nick Clegg. Some 26 per cent said they trusted none of the politicians.

The first cross-party talks to try and reach agreement on new powers for Holyrood were postponed earlier this week.

But it is understood Lord Smith of Kelvin, who is chairing the commission to find a deal, is involved in a series of bi-lateral talks with representatives of each of the parties ahead of a rearranged meeting next week.

Professor James Mitchell of Edinburgh University said there was a high level of public interest in the post-referendum political situation in Scotland.

He said: “Politics in Westminster may have reverted to business as usual and the focus has shifted away from Scotland, but the Scottish public remain engaged, awaiting promises to be kept but expecting little. This combination of high levels of engagement and healthy scepticism should make next year’s general election in Scotland interesting and less predictable than usual.

“It confirms what some predicted – the Scottish Question is alive, even if some would prefer it to disappear.”

Meanwhile, Ms Sturgeon is planning a speaking tour around Scotland over the next few weeks, aimed at the SNP’s newly-boosted membership.

The party has more than trebled its size to 80,000 members since the referendum.

Tax plans ‘anti-British’

GORDON Brown has condemned plans for full devolution of income tax powers to Holyrood as anti-Scottish and anti-British.

The former Labour Prime Minister claimed the move would lead to Scots MPs being excluded from key decisions at Westminster and allow the SNP to achieve independence by the back door.

Mr Brown proposes the Scottish Parliament should control 75 per cent of income tax, but Labour is under pressure to agree to 100 per cent, which has been proposed by the Lib Dems and Tories.

Mr Brown said full income tax powers risked undermining the pooling and sharing of resources which underpinned the UK.