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Scottish politics

Why Sturgeon had to go

Jane Barlow/Getty

In the end, says Sean O’Grady in The Independent, Nicola Sturgeon couldn’t defy the old adage that “all political careers end in tears”. She pushed her luck too far. The Gender Recognition Reform Bill was “designed as a symbolically progressive act, a handy contrast to transphobic Tory England” and a challenge to Westminster’s supremacy. It seemed a good idea to pit Scotland’s right to make its own laws against “a neo-colonial England… even if it was a wee bit cynical”. But it all ended in farce. There were other foul-ups too, such as the “colossally mismanaged” scheme to build ferries for the islands. And while Brexit was a driver of the cause for an independent Scotland in Europe, it was also a cautionary tale in how costly “Scexit” might prove to Scottish business and consumers.

The “appalling handling” of the transgender issue may have been the trigger for Sturgeon’s sudden departure, says Iain Martin in The Times; so too the police investigation into £600,000 worth of SNP donations. The party’s “epic failure” to deliver on education, health and public services didn’t help either. But the “underlying cause” was that, despite all those years of “fostering division” between Scotland and England, the SNP’s goal of independence is still not within sight – support for the movement is actually in decline. With Vladimir Putin imperilling European security, who in their right mind would now want Scotland to leave Britain’s armed forces? The first minister hoped to evade these and other “cold, hard realities” by creating a cult of personality. “It didn’t work.”

🌹🥳 The biggest beneficiary of Sturgeon’s resignation is probably Keir Starmer, says Sean O’Grady. With the SNP in disarray, Labour is far more likely to pick up seats north of the border – making its path to an overall majority much easier. In the SNP and the Conservatives, Starmer is now facing two parties that have “run out of energy, ideas and talent”.