Nicola Sturgeon hits back at criticism over manifesto’s independence inclusion

The First Minister and leader of the SNP was on the campaign trail for the May 5 local elections in Glasgow on Saturday.

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Nicola Sturgeon has hit back at “bizarre” claims her party’s manifesto puts independence before local government issues.

The First Minister and leader of the SNP was on the campaign trail for the May 5 local elections in Glasgow on Saturday.

Following the party’s manifesto launch on Friday, there was criticism over the inclusion of the SNP’s intention to hold a second vote on independence – with some pointing out that such an ambition is one for national government, rather than local councils.

However, Ms Sturgeon said the idea that local issues are being put aside is a “ridiculous assertion” and that those saying so haven’t read the manifesto.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the Plant Blonde Cafe, Glasgow, while on the council elections campaign trail.
Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the Plant Blonde Cafe, Glasgow, while on the council elections campaign trail.

Key pledges listed in the SNP’s manifesto include prioritising action to ease the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, in addition to tackling fuel poverty.

She told the PA news agency: “Nobody can read the manifesto and reach that conclusion. It’s just a bizarre, irrational thing to say.

“Our manifesto puts local services and the cost-of-living crisis front and centre.

“It’s no secret the SNP supports independence and won a mandate for an independence referendum, but anybody who’s saying that is just frankly playing politics and hasn’t read the manifesto, so it’s a ridiculous assertion.”

The First Minister said she is optimistic her party can retain leadership in Glasgow City Council, which took control at the last local government election in 2017.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the Plant Blonde Cafe, Glasgow, while on the council elections campaign trail.
Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the Plant Blonde Cafe, Glasgow, while on the council elections campaign trail.

From the council’s creation up until that vote, the local authority was held by Scottish Labour, with leader Anas Sarwar saying he feels confident that his party can win it back this time round.

Mr Sarwar previously said the best thing that could happen for Glasgow is “that we get rid” of current council leader Susan Aitken in the May 5 ballot.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the Plant Blonde Cafe, Glasgow, while on the council elections campaign trail.
Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the Plant Blonde Cafe, Glasgow, while on the council elections campaign trail.

The SNP administration has come under fire for problems including fly-tipping, overflowing bins and reports of rats throughout the city.

The First Minister praised the work her party has carried out in winning back the trust of voters, but said she’s learned not to get complacent about elections.

She told the PA news agency: “I’m confident in the sense that I’m optimistic (on winning Glasgow City Council), but in all my years in politics, I’ve learned never to take anything for granted and never to be complacent about elections.

“You need to work really hard to win any election. You have to work hard to win the trust of people in the first place. You have to work hard to regain that trust, and we’re campaigning hard in Glasgow and across the country.

“I’m optimistic, I’m enjoying the campaign, I’m enjoying being out and about – I think everybody’s enjoying being out and about after the last couple of years.

“But I don’t take a single vote for granted.”