Nicola Sturgeon tells Sir Keir Starmer to ‘find a backbone’ and describes Labour as ‘pale imitation of the Conservatives’


Nicola Sturgeon tells Sir Keir Starmer to 'find a backbone' and describes Labour as 'pale imitation of the Conservatives'

Nicola Sturgeon has branded Labour a “pale imitation” of the Tories and called on Sir Keir Starmer to “find a backbone” and stand for something.

The former Scottish first minister refused to accept it was a given the SNP will lose seats to Labour at the next general election, as current polling predicts.

Speaking to broadcaster Iain Dale at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, she said there was “no point” in an opposition party that does not oppose the government.

Ms Sturgeon said: “I have spent my life opposing Tory governments who have never done anything good for Scotland. But what’s the point in a Labour Party that is just a pale imitation of the Conservatives?

“Every time you hear Keir Starmer open his mouth right now he seems to be at pains to agree with what the Tories are doing or to reduce the difference between them.

“You have to stand for something in politics or what’s the point of you. Find some backbone, that’s my advice to Keir.”

Labour sees taking back its former Scottish heartlands as crucial to winning the next general election.

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A by-election in Rutherglen and Hamilton West, triggered by the suspension of COVID rule-breaker Margaret Ferrier, has presented an opportunity for the party to re-establish its credentials north of the border.

But Labour has been on a charm offensive in Scotland ever since the sudden resignation of Ms Sturgeon in February and the ensuing turmoil in the SNP, which is facing a police probe into its finances.

Ms Sturgeon has repeatedly maintained that her decision to stand down had nothing to do with subsequent developments in the investigation.

SNP police probe ‘traumatic experience’

Asked by Dale when she first realised the search of her home was happening, she said: “When it happened.”

Asked if that was “literally the knock on the door” she replied: “Yes. I’m not going to go any further into that, maybe one day I will be able to.”

Ms Sturgeon’s home, which she shares with her husband and former SNP chief executive Peter Murrell, was searched in April with Mr Murrell arrested and questioned by police before being released without charge.

Ms Sturgeon was arrested, and also released without charge, in June.

Nicola Sturgeon tells Sir Keir Starmer to 'find a backbone' and describes Labour as 'pale imitation of the Conservatives'

She said if she’d had “any idea about what was going to unfold” she would “not have been able to function” in the period between announcing her departure in February and leaving office at the end of March.

She added that it has “obviously been a really difficult, traumatic experience” but she had “faith” in the process.

“My touchstone I guess in all of it, all along, is I am confident in my own position. I am absolutely certain I have done nothing wrong.

“Therefore I need to and do trust in the process.

“The police are doing a job and therefore I have to have faith that everything they are doing in the process of that is justified.”

Reconciliation with Salmond not on the cards

Ms Sturgeon told the audience that her closest group of friends have been “utterly indispensable” in helping her get through the scandal.

But she said former SNP leader Alex Salmond was firmly not in that category as she ruled out a chance of reconciliation with her predecessor.

The pair had a well-publicised fall-out after Mr Salmond faced sexual harassment allegations but he said this week “never say never” when asked about the prospect of repairing their relationship.

However Ms Sturgeon said: “It doesn’t come from a place of anger any more, I have gone through the whole spectrum of emotions with Alex over the last few years and I am now at a place where there are other people I would rather spend time with.”


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