Nicola Sturgeon's links with Sunderland - how the Scottish First Minister's Mackem gran helped shape her views

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is appearing before a hearing where she is challenging allegations which some fear could be catastrophic for her leadership.

Wednesday, 3rd March 2021, 1:31 pm
Updated Wednesday, 3rd March 2021, 1:31 pm
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon gives evidence to a Scottish Parliament committee examining the handling of harassment allegations against former first minister Alex Salmond on March 3, 2021 in Edinburgh, Scotland.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon gives evidence to a Scottish Parliament committee examining the handling of harassment allegations against former first minister Alex Salmond on March 3, 2021 in Edinburgh, Scotland.

It comes after the SNP leader has been viewed favourably in terms of her handling the coronavirus crisis.

Here we take a look at the First Minister’s links to Wearside, and how they have helped shape her views on Scotland and the North East.

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Margaret Mill, the daughter of Nicola Sturgeon s great-grandfather, shipwright Joseph Mill, was born in Arthur Street in Ryhope in 1920.

It was a time when Wearside’s ship-building and coal mining industries were thriving, with the area sharing an industrial heritage similar to parts of Scotland.

Margaret grew up to marry Robert Sturgeon, a gardener from Ayr, at St Paul's Parish Church in 1943, and eventually the family moved back to the south west of Scotland, where the now-first minister was born in 1970.

Ms Sturgeon has previously admitted ‘family footballing loyalties’ to Sunderland AFC, having spent happy holidays in Wearside. She has said her family ties meant she didn’t have an “anti-English bone” in her body.

After being elected SNP leader, Ms Sturgeon highlighted the similarities between Scotland and the North East of England, and said she hoped to build stronger ties between the two.

“My gran was from just outside Sunderland in the North of England, so I have got a particular personal affinity to that part of England,” she said in an interview in 2015.

"I think there is huge scope to strengthen the links between Scotland and the north of England.”

She said Scottish independence would never be about “cutting links – social, and cultural and family links – between Scotland and the rest of the UK”.

And addressing the North East England Chamber of Commerce in 2017, she told the group Scotland and the North East had much in common, with both having suffered disproportionately from the loss of traditional industries.

With a vote of no confidence hanging over her and some saying her survival as leader depending on the outcome of the inquiry Holyrood, it remains to be seen whether Ms Sturgeon will survive as leader to help forge the closer bonds she desires between Scotland and the North East.

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