Nicola Sturgeon to be reborn as National Treasure? Strictly Come Dancing surely beckons – Susan Morrison
During her years as First Minister, she has seen five Prime Ministers, three Labour party leaders, four if you include Harriet Harman as acting, and even a change of monarch. And that’s on the UK stage.
In Scotland, Nicola still stood when all others fell away. Jack McConnell, Henry McLeish, Kezia Dugdale and Ruth Davidson, not forgetting the broodingly divisive Mr Salmond, all faces once well kent in Holyrood, and now all gone.
Nicola remained, but no more. It was a stylish move to exit the stage with an unexpected press conference that sent the entire media world into a total flapdoodle. The channels were awash with talking heads and journos doing pieces to camera outside Bute House, which doubtless pleased Visit Scotland no end.
Lengthy speech, though, I thought, compared to the great female political farewells of the past. Thatcher left sharply. Few words, decisive action, that was the Iron Lady, although she surprised us with a few tears at the front door. When Mrs May left we’d almost forgotten she was there. And poor little Liz Truss intoned her sad, short, memorised speech with all the emotion of an automatic call-handling system droning that you are 165th in the queue.
Whilst I’ve never actually been a fan of Ms Sturgeon, I can admire the way she worked that podium. Look back on the early years. You’ll see a very different Nicola. Speechifying was not her thing, and in those days she seemed constantly in Big Eck’s shadow, which couldn't have been an entirely pleasant experience.
Once she stepped into the spotlight alone, she quickly mastered the art of political theatre, particularly during the pandemic. Friends down South told me that they’d watch Boris’s bumblespeak in bewildered bafflement, then tune into Holyrood to listen to Nicola. It was usually the same stuff, but far more coherent and had at least the sound of a plan to it, even if it didn’t apply to them.
Really sharp political players write their own farewells. They don’t leave it to the electorate to dump them, or their parties to knife them in the back. Don’t forget they had to practically drag Mr Johnson out of Downing Street. She set her own terms and conditions. We may never know quite why the speedy departure.
Perhaps she really did wake up one morning and think, “Know what? I’m fed up wi’ this. I’m away. I want to go to a party and drink too much Chardonnay, eat Dairylee cheese sarnies and have a hangover the next day and nobody needs me to do anything”.
Perhaps she sensed that she had lost some connection with her voters. All leaders start to lose their magic touch after a few years, particularly the ones who sweep into office with very high hopes from the electorate, looking at you, Tony Blair and Barack Obama. Not you, Boris. From him, we expected little and got even less.
What next? Well, she could go down the route of becoming a National Treasure. I can imagine the ‘Strictly...’ team getting fairly energised by the idea of seeing Nicola tango. Whatever she does, she deserves some time off. But I think she might be back.