20th November 2014

Nicola Sturgeon becomes Scotland’s first female First Minister

Nicola Sturgeon became First Minister of Scotland on 20 November 2014. She was the first woman appointed to the role, having previously served as Deputy First Minister under Alex Salmond since May 2007. She had been elected Leader of the Scottish National Party on 14 November 2014.

Born in 1970, Sturgeon joined the SNP aged 16, studied law at the University of Glasgow and worked as a solicitor in the city. She was elected a regional MSP for Glasgow in 1999, but had stood unsuccessfully at several earlier elections for seats in Westminster through the 1990s.

Party leader, and leader of the country

She was a strong supporter of Scottish Independence in the referendum of 2014 and it was in the wake of the Yes campaign’s narrow defeat that Alex Salmond resigned, triggering the leadership election that elevated Sturgeon to the positions of party leader and First Minister. The support among the party for her leadership bid was so strong that she was the only candidate, and thus appointed without a ballot.

She faced opposition from the Scottish Conservatives’ Ruth Davidson for election as First Minister, but won a comfortable majority among MSPs, with 66 voting in her favour, and 15 for Davidson.

Addressing the chamber following her election, she said, “To become first minister is special and a big responsibility. To make history as the first woman first minister is even more so.”

Women’s rights

She pledged to fight for women’s rights, and when she unveiled her first cabinet there was an equal number of each gender around the table. The SNP increased its share of seats in the first general election of her tenure, making it not only the largest party in the Scottish Parliament, but simultaneously the third largest party in Westminster.

Sturgeon was in favour of Britain remaining a member of the EU during the 2016 referendum on continued membership. Although a majority of votes cast in Scotland agreed with this position, the country was ultimately removed from the European Union, along with the remainder of the United Kingdom at the start of 2021.



Other events that occured in November

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