- Lorna Slater
She is finishing on her own terms as Scotland’s most popular and longest standing First Minister. Working with her has been a privilege and I am sorry to see her step down.
Throughout her term, she has handled the strains of a very difficult job with empathy, grace and poise.
In her resignation statement she was very open and frank. Speaking from the podium, she was honest and reflective, underlining both the great opportunities and the immense personal impact of leadership.
Political roles take a big toll in terms of the time they take and the impact they have on us, our families and the people around us.
Not only has she had to deal with the demands and constant scrutiny of being a public political figure, but she has also been forced to face a near-constant barrage of cruel and misogynistic attacks. Only last week, one well-known news outlet even went so far as to publish a cartoon of her having been decapitated.
This kind of abuse and toxicity has only intensified as our debates have become more antagonistic and the rhetoric more poisonous.
I know from my own personal experience what kind of abuse women on Twitter and other social media platforms experience. It is one of the reasons that I barely use them anymore. They used to be spaces to meet people and tools to help us exchange ideas, but civil discourse on these platforms is now almost impossible.
My mentions and messages have shown the best of people, but also the worst - with vicious pile-ons, personal attacks, and misogynistic abuse regardless of the topic I am speaking on.
Despite this, I also know that as a white woman from a professional background and without caring responsibilities, the barriers and the abuse that I face are much less vicious than they are for millions of others.
This climate has made it even harder to encourage women and other underrepresented groups into politics. After witnessing the abuse and vile treatment that women in the public eye experience, many fantastic women decide that politics is too toxic for them.
Despite the constant and unyielding vitriol directed at her, the First Minister has led with compassion, determination and selflessness.
She was at the heart of negotiating the Bute House Agreement between the Scottish Greens and the Scottish Government and has shown a real commitment and dedication to positive, progressive and collaborative politics.
Nicola Sturgeon will be a very tough act to follow. She is formidable, strong and one of the best and most significant politicians of the devolution era. She is also a woman of many talents, and I am grateful for her support and her friendship. I wish her all the very best in whatever she chooses to turn her hand to next.
Lorna Slater is the minister for green skills, circular economy and biodiversity