Sarwar felt ‘sorry’ for Sturgeon after she resigned as first minister

Anas Sarwar has recalled “feeling sorry” for Nicola Sturgeon after she resigned as first minister last year.

The Scottish Labour leader said he felt an “emotional connection” with the former SNP leader as she left office, despite their clearly diverging views on politics.

Ms Sturgeon resigned from the top job on February 15 2023.

Mr Sarwar made the comments at an in-conversation-with fringe event hosted by Holyrood Magazine at the Scottish Labour conference on Saturday.

Scottish Labour conference 2024
Leader of the Scottish Labour party Anas Sarwar (Jane Barlow/PA)

But he recalled a time he saw Ms Sturgeon walking to the train station alone in Edinburgh, as he went to the Scottish Parliament.

He said: “For all the disagreements I’ll have with Nicola Sturgeon, for all the fallout that has happened since she resigned as first minister, all the criticisms I would have of her time as first minister, I honestly still, on a human level, actually I do find it challenging when you see politicians that were at the peak of their power.

“I was walking back to the Parliament (from the BBC) and as you do when you think someone recognises you, you say hello.

“After she went by, I went ‘that was Nicola Sturgeon’. She was walking by herself to the train station and I am going to be honest, I felt sorry for her.”

The Scottish Labour leader explained he felt sorry for Ms Sturgeon – both of them Glasgow MSPs – because of how quickly politics moves on.

He said: “And the reason why I felt sorry for her was that, as high as you can be in politics, once you’ve played your part then politics moves on, and there’s something great about that in our democracy and I think that’s a good thing.

“But also I think politics can be really unforgiving as well, so I did have that moment of feeling sorry for her.”

“Whenever you see senior politicians leaving their posts, whether that be former first ministers or prime ministers, when they are doing that final moment either on the steps of Bute House or indeed in front of Downing Street, you do feel an emotional connection with them.”

He said the only former first minister he had not felt this for was former PM Boris Johnson.

Mr Sarwar was also asked during the hour-long session if he missed Ms Sturgeon at FMQs each week.

He said: “She was definitely more of a challenge than the current incumbent at First Minister’s Questions. I think that’s easy to say.”

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