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High Time

'I had to make that decision.'

Tuesday, January 30, 2024
4 mins

by Les Bertrand

We have been watching John Swinney squirm as he strains to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth to the Covid Inquiry and are now struggling to imagine how Nicola Sturgeon will fare tomorrow.

So we try to put ourselves in her famous shoes.

It’s become clear that her colleagues, whether they were members of ‘Gold Command’ or not, are happy to put as much distance between themselves and the former FM as possible - not difficult given that she had such a firm grip on the reins. They can, in effect, praise her to the heavens whilst simultaneously heaving her under the bus.

The most obvious difficulty she faces tomorrow is explaining the rationale behind the retention/deletion of discussions and how she defines 'salient information' - it seems perfectly logical that her description of Johnson as 'a fucking clown' should be classified as relevant and worthy of note.

Given what we have learned about her in recent years, an overarching concern (for her at any rate) will be reiteration of her role as ‘leader’.  In this respect we are reminded of Tony Blair’s strategy of appealing for understanding on the basis that he was the figure entrusted with making decisions which cost many lives. Blair managed to use the gravity of those decisions to elicit a form of grim sympathy. He never apologised. Not once. But he asked for an acceptance that he never had any ‘real’ alternatives open, that ‘it was the right thing to do’.

What can she say tomorrow?

We dislike speculation but the former FM’s handling of awkwardness in previous situations (e.g. ‘what is a woman?’) leads us to suggest that she has very little wiggle-room and no option but to adopt a Blairite approach. 

‘I had to make those decisions’

‘I knew the buck would stop with me and I accepted that challenge.’

‘We were in uncharted territory.’

‘What was required was real leadership.’

‘We got some things wrong but we got a lot right.’

So, if you knew were in those shoes tomorrow, how would you plan to negotiate it all?

If any readers would like to suggest other possible comments then we would love to hear them.

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