Interview: David Torrance, author of Nicola Sturgeon: A Political Life
The First Minister’s biographer compares cautious Nicola Sturgeon to the theatrics of predecessor Alex Salmond
During the last decade in British politics, it has been suggested that we don’t have the personalities and ‘characters’ we once had. If Spitting Image was starting in 2015, it might be quickly pulled due to a lack of raw material: for every Farage or Boris, there are dozens of Cleggs and Milibands.
In Scotland, we have been blessed with George Galloway, Alex Salmond and Jack McConnell. But now that the post-referendum fever has abated, is Nicola Sturgeon a good fit for the serious times we live in?
In Nicola Sturgeon: A Political Life, David Torrance’s new, unauthorised biography of the First Minister, the author mentions the word ‘bland’ twice in the opening chapter and once more later on in connection with the Glasgow Southside MSP and SNP leader.
‘Sturgeon certainly isn't bland, but perhaps she can appear so in contrast to the theatrics and exuberance of her predecessor,’ Torrance admits. ‘She has actually stabilised things quite a bit, and is playing the long game and not letting others (i.e. Jim Murphy) dictate her agenda. That said, she knows how to wow an audience. I watched her this morning at the LSE in London and she had them eating out of her hand.’
While last year’s Yes / No vote was a historic moment for Scotland, there could be more landmarks ahead if, as some are predicting, the SNP hold the balance of power after the general election on 7 May. Torrance thinks that Sturgeon will cope just fine with such a seismic shift in the country’s political landscape.
‘She'll do so with fewer theatrics because she's naturally cautious and doesn't want to give people the impression that she's out to wreck things,’ he says. ‘Alex Salmond would have been much more pugilistic. Labour MPs, for example, will find her much easier to deal with than Salmond: he couldn't really be trusted to stick to a private agreement, but she can.’
Nicola Sturgeon: A Political Life is out on Mon 23 Mar, published by Birlinn.