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Sturgeon taunts Davidson about going to Lords at last FMQs before Scottish election

In the Scottish parliament, after a succession of bruising FMQs in recent weeks, all focused on the Salmond inquiry, both the Tories and Labour pivoted away from the topic today, with Ruth Davidson challenging the SNP’s record on the attainment gap and Anas Sarwar leading on unanswered questions about children who died because of hospital infections at Glasgow’s super-hospital.

Nicola Sturgeon pointed out that Davidson could have been asking about education in previous weeks but instead had indulged in “smears” regarding Salmond.

After Sturgeon’s second mention of the fact that this was Davidson’s final appearance before she takes her seat in “the unelected House of Lords”, presiding officer Ken Mcintosh intervened to ask the first minister not to be so personal. “Gallant, but not required,” Davidson immediately replied.

“It’s not me that’s running away from responsibility and accountability,” Sturgeon told Davidson, saying she would now “put myself before the Scottish people”. This is of course the final FMQs and the final day of parliament before the Holyrood election campaign begins, so can we learn anything from this session about the likely arguments?

The Lib Dems too went in on Sturgeon’s record on education – pointing out that her party has been in government for 14 years, not just the past five.

The Scottish government’s record on public services certainly ought to be central to the campaign, and one of Anas Sarwar’s key messages as the new Scottish Labour leader is the need to move away from binaries such as Salmond v Sturgeon or independence v the union and come together beyond the pandemic. But, as pollster John Curtice pointed out at a pre-election briefing this morning, the evidence suggests that the constitutional question remains central to voters’ choices in this election.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Tories have already been setting out their stall focusing on “SNP sleaze”. Who knows if education will get a hearing beyond this FMQs.

Nicola Sturgeon in the Scottish parliament yesterday.

Nicola Sturgeon in the Scottish parliament yesterday. Photograph: Getty Images


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