Did Nicola Sturgeon’s Covid inquiry revelations change minds in Yes City of Dundee?

The people of Dundee returned the highest vote for independence in 2014 and routinely send SNP politicians to parliament.

But Nicola Sturgeon’s departure, and a police probe into party finances, has dented support nationally.

The former first minister’s appearance at the UK Covid Inquiry raised further questions about her legacy.

So how have the people of “Yes City” reacted?

We tested opinion in Dundee one day after Ms Sturgeon’s gruelling day-long session – with interesting results.


‘I thought she did a great job’

Dundee writer Vickie White.

Dundee writer Vickie White endured a horrendous time during the pandemic – losing loved ones when the nation was in lockdown.

But despite opposing the SNP, she praised Ms Sturgeon for her leadership and said revelations from the Covid inquiry had not changed her mind.

“I’m not a fan of her politics, but I thought she did a great job,” Vickie told us. “I was thinking about writing to her today to say that.”

Vickie was less impressed by Alister Jack, the Scottish Secretary in the UK Government, who appeared at the inquiry on Thursday and suggested he was unmoved by Ms Sturgeon’s tears.

“I’m really annoyed at Jack criticising her for crying,” she added. “I have respect for her as a woman leader in a man’s world.”

Over several hours on Wednesday, Ms Sturgeon admitted WhatsApps were deleted and had become “too common” as a way of communicating in government.

It also emerged Ms Sturgeon, who rejected accusations of politicising the pandemic, sent a message admitting “it’s all so random” when setting local restrictions.

Mr Jack also deleted his messages wholesale, claiming to be a “luddite”.

While views were mixed, several Dundee residents agreed with Vickie that the former first minister faced a tough job during Covid.

Some claimed she did a better job than the Boris Johnson’s UK Government, even if huge mistakes were made.

Dundee resident Dennis Flood.

“I don’t like the SNP,” said Dennis Flood, 73.

“But I thought she did a much better job than Boris Johnson during Covid.

“All this stuff about WhatsApp being deleted – I think it’s smokescreens by Labour and the Tories.”

‘I don’t think she’s done much wrong’

Some supporters of Ms Sturgeon were more emphatic.

“I’m a big supporter,” said Gabi, 30, a Dundee resident who works in food services. “This Covid inquiry is a huge witch-hunt.

“If she was to come back, I’d absolutely support her again.”

Student Niamh Rankin, 18, who is originally from Cupar in Fife, said her mind had not been swayed by the Covid inquiry.

“I don’t think that she’s done much wrong,” she told us. “I still think she was good for Scotland.”

‘I’m not as much of a fan’

But there were others among the pro-independence faithful who had their confidence shaken.

“I’ve always voted SNP, but now I’m reconsidering,” said Derek Bryson, aged 67, from Dundee.

“I think she’s been caught out a bit, like a lot of politicians. I’m kind of disappointed.”

Nicola Sturgeon during a Scottish Government Covid briefing.

He added: “Like the other parties they made a lot of mistakes in circumstances that were difficult.

“You can’t single her out for that. But I’m not as much of a fan as I used to be.”

James Stewart, 70, said: “I’m not SNP. I used to be, but not now.

“It’s due to the Covid inquiry and all the deleted WhatsApps.”

Lots of apathy

Plenty of people admitted they hadn’t been paying much attention to the pandemic and had no views either way.

Some residents said they don’t like any politicians – claiming they’re all as bad as each other.

Students Niamh Rankin and Rachel Black.

“The fact I don’t watch the news means I don’t have much of an opinion on it,” said 18-year-old student Rachel Black.

“I don’t really know what she’s done to make everyone so upset and frustrated. I don’t know if she’s a nice person or a bad person.”

‘Disgust’

For those who have always disliked Ms Sturgeon in a city where she could count on plenty of support, Wednesday’s Covid hearings were a vindication.

One lifelong Labour voter said she felt “disgust” at the revelations from the pandemic – and hopes voters flock back to Anas Sarwar’s party.


Read more of The Courier’s politics coverage on our dedicated page here.

Keep up with all the stories on our weekly politics podcast, The Stooshie.

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