If anyone can bring the SNP back to life, it’s Sturgeon
When Nicola Sturgeon stepped up as leader of the SNP after a failed independence bid, it wasn’t clear what was next for the party.
It’s easy to forget that the entire independence movement was in the doldrums.
Surefooted and calm, Sturgeon barely put a foot wrong in her early months in charge.
What seemed like a poisoned chalice became a gift.
The SNP looked far more appealing to wavering voters under her leadership than they had under Alex Salmond.
Sturgeon quickly grasped that the hostilities which had taken hold during the referendum had to be resolved if her overarching mission was to be accomplished.
She understood that hostile criticism of No voters was getting the Yes movement nowhere.
An increased majority followed but was just a tremor compared to the Westminster elections in 2015. Sturgeon’s party took 56 out of 59 seats and there was no real feeling that this was even the peak.
Since then, however, there have only been problems. Some out of Sturgeon’s control but many more self-inflicted.
Her government’s record in Holyrood might sympathetically be descr ibed as a mixed bag.
Chaos in the classrooms because of funding cuts, increased A&E waiting times and last year’s ScotRail crisis are just three examples.
The “rock st a r ” conferences of recent years with packed crowds in concert venues eating out of her hands must seem a long way away.
News of an opinion poll showing her leadership rating at its lowest to date will hardly have come as a surprise.
But from adversity comes opportunity. Sturgeon must now look for new ways to re-establish her party’s ID with both the membership and the voters.
It’s daft to expect her to dial back on independence altogether.
It is part of the party’s DNA and always will be. The mistake would be making any more hasty declarations around possible timetables.
In any case, her answer can and should be that it’s off the table until Brexit is complete.
Sturgeon doesn’t have a magic wand to fix all of her local difficulties. Finding the solutions to the problems which now engulf her is the biggest task she’s faced.
But given her past record, only a fool would underestimate her.
She’s done it before – and Sturgeon can rejuvenate the SNP again.
Her party took 56 out of 59 seats and there was no feeling this was the peak