Nicola Sturgeon’s first day: what the papers are saying

As Nicola Sturgeon awakes to her first full day in office as Scotland’s first minister, she will not be short of advice from commentators in the Scottish press.

As Nicola Sturgeon awakes to her first full day in office as Scotland’s first minister, she will not be short of advice from commentators in the Scottish press.

In the Scotsman, its political editor Tom Peterkin this morning reminds Sturgeon of the massive challenge she faces to make good on her political priorities at a time of austerity. In a piece outlining the scale of the job ahead facing Scotland’s first female first minister, he notes:

“Sturgeon has been described as a child of the left, a portrayal that has led to speculation she might take the party leftwards – a move that would go down well with radical new members. But in her conference speech at the weekend, she took care to keep business onside, emphasising that her drive for social justice was dependant on a strong economy.

“In these early days of her leadership, it would seem it is by concentrating on childcare and protecting the NHS that she intends to move forward from the Salmond era. Funding those ambitions will be tricky task at this time of austerity.”

In the Scotsman’s leader comment, however, the focus is on calling on Ms Sturgeon to move on from the constitutional navel gazing which has so dominated the government in Scotland since 2011. Calling on her to use the powers already available to Holyrood, the paper concludes:

“Ms Sturgeon has the opportunity to be more radical that the four men who held office before her. Thanks to the Scotland Act 2012 and the work of Lord Smith’s commission, more devolution is coming to Holyrood. Our new First Minister must forget the SNP’s language of “if only” and get on with making the most of the powers available to her.

“Alex Salmond was the dominant figure in Scottish politics for a decade. Ms Sturgeon has a hard act to follow. She will greatly improve her chances of enduring success by keeping in mind that she governs for all, including the No-voting majority.

“We wish Nicola Sturgeon well. She is a capable, intelligent woman who has earned this opportunity to govern. But it will be an opportunity squandered if our national debate remains focused on independence.”

Meanwhile at the Herald, the paper’s editorial focuses on whether she will be able to step out of the shadow of her mentor, Alex Salmond, to be her own first minister. On this, the paper observes:

“The first thing she did on becoming leader-elect of her party was to zero in on the emergent Europhobia south of the Border and demand a double-lock on any EU referendum in which each nation of the UK would have to vote for withdrawal for it to be valid. This was never going to be granted, but it meant that in London and the other capitals of these nations she swiftly stepped out from behind the shadow cast by Mr Salmond.

“If as expected her mentor becomes a force at Westminster again will that be a problem for the new First minister? Probably not; they are a trusted team. Will she cope with the unknown quantity of the influx of members, probably from the left of the spectrum? If anyone can, she can. Can she maintain the SNP poll lead in the face of a new Labour leader and convert that into seats won? That will be tough.”

Outlining the importance of her managing expectations, the paper continues:

“Above all, can her social democratic pledges for health and childcare survive the next wave of austerity? That is the real question. Whatever the Smith Commission comes up with, there is still going to be a public spending crisis for the foreseeable future and her biggest task will be to manage expectations.

“Her theme music for this? The feminist anthem I Will Survive.”

Ian McWhiter in the Herald meanwhile has a warning for the new first minister. Warning that she will now get the blame for everything that goes wrong, he concludes in his article today:

“Everything they say about the new first minister is true. She is capable, intelligent and very tough. However, that isn’t enough. Nor is it enough to just be the first woman first minister. Now the glass is shattered everyone can start blaming her for everything that goes wrong.”

Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward

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