Nicola Sturgeon has defended her record in government during her final First Minister's Questions yesterday.

The first minister was accused of failures on education, drug deaths, NHS waiting lists and ferries in her 286th weekly session.

Ms Sturgeon said she was "very proud" of her party's eight election wins and policies including the Scottish Child Payment and progressive Income Tax.

However, she said her successor would have a tough job ahead.

The winner of the contest to succeed Ms Sturgeon as SNP leader will be revealed on Monday afternoon. The three candidates are Humza Yousaf, Kate Forbes and Ash Regan.

The victor will then face a vote in the Scottish Parliament the next day before being confirmed as first minister.

Membership numbers

The BBC reports that Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross opened the session by accusing the SNP of having "lied" to the press over its membership numbers.

The party had ridiculed a newspaper report that it had lost 30,000 members since December 2021, but was later forced to admit its membership had fallen from 104,000 to 72,000 over that time.

The party had seen its membership surge to a peak of about 125,000 by 2019 under Ms Sturgeon's leadership.

The issue saw Peter Murrell - Ms Sturgeon's husband - quit as the party's chief executive, with SNP media chief Murray Foote also resigning.

Amid rowdy scenes in the Holyrood chamber, presiding officer Alison Johnstone issued several pleas for members to be heard, adding: "We do not use the word 'lie' in this chamber."

Ms Sturgeon said she would "not take lectures" from the Conservatives about honesty in the same week Boris Johnson was being questioned about Partygate - and urged the Scottish Tories to release their own membership figures.

Record in government

Mr Ross also questioned Ms Sturgeon's record in government, saying Scottish schools have plummeted in league tables and the attainment gap has not been closed.

He pointed to the country having highest rate of drug deaths in Europe, lengthy NHS waiting lists and a "damning report" on ferries that are currently five years late and massively over-budget.

The first minister has "ignored Scotland's priorities in favour of her obsession with independence. Isn't that the truth of her legacy?" he added.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar also attacked the exiting first minister's record, claiming that there was not a single Scottish institution that has been left stronger after Ms Sturgeon's eight years in office.

But Ms Sturgeon said: "I am proud of the record of government that I have led through some of the toughest times Scotland has faced in recent history. But ultimately the only people who will cast a verdict on the record of my or future government are the people of Scotland.”

  • Deputy first minister John Swinney has revealed that he repeatedly tried to leave the Scottish Government over the last seven years.

Mr Swinney told the BBC that Ms Sturgeon "wouldn't countenance" his offers to make way in 2016 and 2021.

He also came "incredibly close" to resigning over the controversial system of exam moderation during the pandemic.

The pair will stand down together next week.

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