Scotland politics

Nicola Sturgeon's first year as FM

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Media captionNicola Sturgeon is marking one year as leader of the SNP and First Minister of Scotland

It is a year since Nicola Sturgeon was elected as Scotland's first female first minister after a vote by MSPs at Holyrood.

Ms Sturgeon, who had previously acted as deputy to Alex Salmond, took over as her Scottish National Party was still trying to come to terms with the crushing disappointment of the independence referendum result.

But 12 months later, the party is still on a high after winning all but three of Scotland's 59 seats in May's general election - and appears on course to win another majority at Holyrood next year.

Here's a look back at some of the key moments from Ms Sturgeon's first year in the job.


November 2014

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Media captionNicola Sturgeon was sworn in in a simple ceremony at the Court of Session in Edinburgh

Ms Sturgeon is elected as first minister on 19 November after a Holyrood vote sees her defeat Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, who put her name forward as a "Unionist alternative", by 66 votes to 15, with 39 abstentions.

Ms Sturgeon immediately pledges to deliver greater opportunities for women, to tackle low pay and improve childcare, and to represent everyone in Scotland, regardless of their political views.

The following day, she is formally sworn in as the country's fifth first minister in a ceremony at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

Her first cabinet is unveiled with an equal split between men and women - and there is no room for former Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill or Education Secretary Michael Russell.

Ms Sturgeon, who had joined the SNP when she was 16, had already succeeded Mr Salmond as the party's leader after being elected unopposed by delegates at its conference in Perth the previous weekend.

With polls suggesting a hung parliament is the most likely outcome of the forthcoming general election, Ms Sturgeon used her inaugural leader's speech to the conference to predict the party could hold the balance of power at Westminster.


December 2014

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Ms Sturgeon finds herself dealing with two major domestic incidents as a bin lorry crashes in Glasgow, killing six people and injuring 15 more, and nurse Pauline Cafferkey is diagnosed with Ebola after returning from working in West Africa.

She also suspends a group of Renfrewshire councillors from the SNP after they film themselves burning a copy of the Smith Commission report before posting the footage on YouTube. Ms Sturgeon immediately describes their actions as "unacceptable".

Earlier in the month, Ms Sturgeon had travelled to London to meet the Queen at Buckingham Palace, and was formally sworn in as a member of the Privy Council, which advises the monarch.

But the palace admits a "mistake" in introducing Ms Sturgeon as first minister of the Scottish "executive" rather than "government".

Ms Sturgeon also meets Prime Minister David Cameron at Downing Street for talks.

And it is revealed that the first minister - a regular tweeter - has seen her Twitter followers increase from 34,516 to 107,340 since the beginning of the year. The figure currently stands at about 260,000.


January 2015

Image caption Nicola Sturgeon said she was responsible for protecting the NHS budget in Scotland

Ms Sturgeon tells the BBC that SNP MPs will vote on English health matters if it helps to protect the Scottish NHS.

She says the move would be necessary to protect the Scottish NHS from the knock on effects of cuts and privatisation in England.

Traditionally, the SNP position at Westminster had been not to vote on matters that did not impact on Scotland unless they had a direct impact on the budget of Scotland via the Barnett funding formula.

Ms Sturgeon's comments add to the already heated debate about English votes for English laws.


February 2015

Ms Sturgeon again travels to London, where she gives a speech criticising the UK government's "austerity economics" as "morally unjustifiable and economically unsustainable".

Looking ahead to the general election, she says a potential Labour government would need to abandon "failed" austerity policies and agree to scrap Trident in order to win the support of SNP MPs.

Ms Sturgeon also calls for the SNP to be included in pre-election talks with the civil service in Whitehall on the basis that the party could potentially be part of a coalition government in the event of a hung parliament.

The first minister unveils plans to tackle the attainment gap between Scotland's wealthiest and least well-off school pupils.

And the Scottish government confirms it is to end the automatic early release of prisoners who were jailed for more than four years.


March 2015

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The starting gun in the general election campaign is officially fired on 30 March, with polls predicting the SNP is set to make huge gains at the expense of Scottish Labour.

Ms Sturgeon tells the BBC that England has "nothing to fear" from the SNP, but stresses that the party wants to "assert ourselves and try and influence the direction that politics in Westminster takes".

During the interview with the BBC's James Cook, she also talks in detail about her life and history - revealing in the process that she irons her husband's shirts, is terrified of dogs and spent many happy Saturday evenings as a youngster at Frosty's Ice Disco.


April 2015

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Image caption Alistair Carmichael was later to face legal action aimed at removing him as an MP over his involvement in leaking the memo

A leaked memo from the Scotland Office is published by the Daily Telegraph alleging that Ms Sturgeon told the French ambassador the UK that she would prefer David Cameron as prime minister rather than Labour leader Ed Miliband.

Both Ms Sturgeon and the ambassador, Sylvie Bermann, strongly deny that the memo is true. It subsequently emerges that the release of the memo was sanctioned by Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael, who later admits that its contents were not true.

Ms Sturgeon accuses him of "dirty tricks" and calls on him to consider has position as an MP.

Ms Sturgeon also takes part in two leaders' debates which are broadcast across the UK ahead of the election.

The SNP claims victory for its leader in the first, which saw Ms Sturgeon go head-to-head with six other party leaders, including David Cameron and Ed Miliband. Ms Sturgeon also wins widespread praise for her performance in an opposition leaders' debate a fortnight later.


May 2015

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Image caption The SNP surpassed even its own expectations as it won 56 seats at the general election

The SNP celebrates a historic success as it wins 56 of the 59 seats in Scotland at the general election. Ms Sturgeon says she is "bursting with pride" as she meets her party's new MPs for a photocall at the Forth Bridge two days later, and warns Westminster that it "cannot and will not be business as usual" when it comes to its dealing with Scotland.

She says she will seek to work with "people of progressive opinion" throughout the UK, and thanks the electorate for "placing their trust in the SNP".

Ms Sturgeon also strongly criticises the UK government's newly published Scotland Bill, saying it falls short in "almost every way" of fulfilling the Smith Commission recommendations.


June 2015

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Media captionThe Daily Show website billed Ms Sturgeon as a "comedian"

Ms Sturgeon appears on the Daily Show during her first official visit to the United States, where she undertakes a series of engagements in New York and Washington.

Earlier in the month, she had used a speech in Brussels to say a vote to take the UK out of the European Union could cause a "groundswell of anger" in Scotland.

Back home, Ms Sturgeon denies claims her government wants to cut Scotland's financial contribution to the royal family.

And she pledges to take action against SNP members who are abusive on social media.


July 2015

Image caption The first minister addressed an audience of women in Beijing

Ms Sturgeon heads to China for a trade mission aimed at improving links between the two countries. She speaks about women's rights in a keynote address to 100 senior women in government, academia and business in Beijing.

She is also named as the UK's most powerful woman in a list published by the BBC's Woman's Hour programme. The judging panel describes the SNP leader as "the woman of the moment". She is chosen ahead of Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of American Vogue, and actor, director and humanitarian ambassador Angelina Jolie.


August 2015

The press regulator upholds a complaint against the Daily Telegraph over its story about the leaked government memo involving Ms Sturgeon ahead of the election.

The Independent Press Standards Organisation says that, while the newspaper was entitled to report on the memorandum, it had published its contents as facts without taking additional steps prior to publication - such as contacting the parties involved for their comment - to verify their accuracy.

Ms Sturgeon calls for the BBC to greatly enhance its presence in Scotland, using her speech at the Edinburgh Television Festival to say BBC Scotland should be given more influence, a greater slice of the licence fee and a new TV channel and English-language radio station.

She also says the corporation had not been institutionally biased during the independence referendum.


September 2015

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Image caption Michelle Thomson was suspended from the SNP after the allegations about property deals she was involved in were reported by the media

Ms Sturgeon finds herself dealing with the fall out from revelations that the SNP's business spokeswoman at Westminster, Michelle Thomson, had been involved in property deals that led to a solicitor being struck off. Ms Thomson is suspended by the party while an investigation is carried out, with Ms Sturgeon saying the allegations would be "unacceptable" if they are found to be true.

Ms Sturgeon marks the anniversary of the independence referendum by warning that the prime minister is "living on borrowed time" as he seeks to prevent Scotland leaving the UK.

And she admits to being reduced to tears by photos of dead Syrian boy Alan Kurdi, who was washed up on a Turkish beach, as she calls on the UK government to increase the number of refugees it takes.

Ms Sturgeon is also the subject of a feature in fashion magazine Vogue after agreeing to take part in a photoshoot with photographer Benjamin McMahon.

The first minister also finds time to open the Borders railway with the Queen - and helps a man propose to his boyfriend after an SNP meeting in Oban. Happily for all concerned, Ian says "yes" to Paul.


October 2015

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Ms Sturgeon urges voters to judge the SNP on its record in government as she addresses the party's annual conference in Aberdeen.

She also tells the BBC that even a "thumping win" at next year's Scottish elections would not be enough to push for a second independence referendum.

Instead, she said the party would only campaign for another referendum if and when it was judged that people who voted 'No' the first time around had changed their minds.

Senior SNP sources later tell the BBC that a level of 60% support for independence over the period of a year had been identified as a benchmark in making the decision over a second referendum.


November 2015

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Image caption Ms Sturgeon wrote that Scotland "stands with the people of France" in the wake of the Paris terror attacks

Ms Sturgeon says there is no place for "bigotry and prejudice" in Scotland as she signs a book of condolence for the victims of the Paris terror attacks that left 129 people dead.

The Scottish government's international development minister, Humza Yousaf, was among those subjected to abusive comments on social media in the days since the atrocities.

Ms Sturgeon observes the Europe-wide minute silence at the Glasgow Central Mosque, the day before a group of Syrian refugees was due to arrive in Scotland.

The first minister also appears on Desert Island Discs, where she reveals her favourite records include songs by Cilla Black, Robert Burns, the Proclaimers and Duran Duran as well as the Eurhythmics and Aretha Franklin disco classic Sisters are Doin' it for Themselves.

And YouGov says that its analysis of data from about 30,000 Scots revealed earlier this month that out of 5,000 celebrities, Ms Sturgeon is "the most popular and widely appreciated living person" among the Scottish public.

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