Sturgeon spindoctor condemned after 'Unionist election deniers' rant

Sturgeon spindoctor condemned after 'Unionist election deniers' rant <i>(Image: PA)</i>
Sturgeon spindoctor condemned after 'Unionist election deniers' rant (Image: PA)

NICOLA Sturgeon’s official spokesman has been accused of “inflammatory rhetoric” after claiming Unionist parties are refusing to accept the result of the 2021 Holyrood election.

The First Minister’s chief spindoctor launched into the "wild" and "provocative" rant during the Scottish Government’s regular weekly media briefing after FMQs.

He appeared unhappy at Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton attacking Ms Sturgeon for rebranding the Yes campaign as “Scotland’s democracy movement”.

The First Minister announced the change at a rally outside Holyrood last night after losing her bid to secure Indyref2 at the UK Supreme Court.

Mr Cole-Hamilton tweeted: “This ‘Scotland’s democracy movement’ title is straight out of the Trump playbook and can get in the bin.

“I was elected to oppose a referendum with more votes than any other candidate in the history of the Scottish Parliament. It’s my democratic duty to continue to oppose it.”

The First Minister’s official spokesman said that kind of comment was “ludicrous”.

He told reporters: “If the word democracy is now being treated as a thought crime by unionist politicians it says everything about where they’ve got to.

"I saw one of them, I think it was Cole-Hamilton, using the predictable Trump jibe.

“The only people behaving like Donald Trump are the Unionist politicians who are trying to pretend they won an election they lost.”

Asked if he was saying that the opposition parties were denying the election result of 2021, the spokesman replied: “Well, they appear to be. There’s a clear majority for a referendum in parliament. They appear to be in some way questioning or denying that.”

Asked if the parties didn’t accept the election result, he said: “They don’t accept the result.” After losing the 2020 US election, President Trump launched multiple unsuccessful legal actions in multiple states in a bid to change the result.

Asked what concrete steps the Holyrood parties had taken other than “bumping their gums”, the FM’s spokesman said: “There is a clear denial of democracy at play. They’re throwing around the Trump jibes. I’m merely saying that the only people behaving like Donald Trump are people who try and deny the reality of election results. They’re trying to deny the reality of an election result in a free and fair democracy.”

Asked whether opposing a referendum was the same as denying democracy, he said: “Well, if there is a democratic mandate for a referendum, which there is, and they stand in the way of that, that’s a denial of democracy.”

Asked how they were standing in the way, he said: “In everything they say about it.”

Asked to narrow it down from “everything”, he said: “I’m not going to engage in this theatre of the absurd. They don’t accept the reality of the election result.”

Asked whether not having to agree with someone else was part of democracy, he said: “Part of a democratic system is scrutinising what people say."

He then asked reporters to reveal potentially private conversations with other politicians.

A Scottish Liberal Democrat spokesperson said: "This is turning into an embarrassing spectacle for the nationalists. After the Supreme Court comprehensively dismantled their case, it seems as if all they can do is dial up the inflammatory rhetoric.

"It sounds like the First Minister's spokesperson needs a chamomile tea and a lie down. “Perhaps after that he could advise his boss to get back to work on ending the schools strikes and tackling long waits for NHS treatments."

Tory MSP Donald Cameron added: “Nicola Sturgeon’s spokesman’s provocative language and absurd claims about opposition parties reflect poorly on her.

“These wild comments are a reminder of what we could expect if there was another referendum – and they explain why so many Scots dread another ugly, divisive campaign that would split families and friends again.

“Poll after poll indicates that the Scottish public do not want another independence referendum now because they expect both of their governments to focus on the global cost-of-living crisis and the NHS.

“The only people ‘denying democracy’ are Nationalists who refuse to accept the result of the referendum just eight years ago.

“Nicola Sturgeon made clear in a TV debate before the 2021 election that anyone who supported her handling of Covid but opposed independence should vote SNP – so she can’t now claim they back her referendum push.”