Nicola Sturgeon reveals she miscarried during Ibrox memorial in 2011

Nicola Sturgeon - Getty Images
Nicola Sturgeon - Getty Images

Nicola Sturgeon has disclosed she attended a memorial service “in a lot of pain” while still having a miscarriage.

The first minister, who has previously described the trauma of her baby loss experience, has now revealed it occurred while she was attending the memorial for the 40th anniversary of the Ibrox disaster on Jan 3 2011.

She provided more detail on the ITV show Loose Women after being asked how she could deal with such a traumatic experience and continue being a politician.

“If you go online and google, you can find a photograph of me at an event, actually while I’m still having a miscarriage, a public commemoration for a disaster that happened many decades ago in Scotland,” she said.

“Looking at me, looking at that photograph now, it’s clear I’m in a lot of pain.”

Ms Sturgeon said the miscarriage had happened “at the very end of Hogmanay in 2010”.

Addressing how she dealt with the loss, the first minister said: “I can only speak for myself, but I think it’s more common than just me - you just bury it.

“You effectively don’t deal with it, you don’t process it. I’ve been doing that to one extent or another for all my adult life.”

She added that the baby loss memorial book, an initiative she launched last week, may have helped her to deal with her experience.

Nicola Sturgeon with Janet Street-Porter on ITV show Loose Women - Shutterstock
Nicola Sturgeon with Janet Street-Porter on ITV show Loose Women - Shutterstock

Ms Sturgeon appeared on the show in her final week as first minister and disclosed that she started wanting to quit when she saw Jacinda Ardern resign as New Zealand’s prime minister.

‘The SNP is not in a tremendous mess’

But she was forced to deny that she had left the SNP in a “tremendous mess”, insisting that her 89-year-old party was experiencing “growing pains” during the contest to succeed her.

She was speaking two days after Peter Murrell, her husband and the party’s chief executive, resigned over inaccurate statements to the media denying a huge slump in SNP membership.

Murray Foote, the SNP’s head of communications, also quit after he dismissed reports the party’s membership had dropped by 30,000 since the end of 2021. The SNP finally admitted last week the figure was accurate.

Mr Foote claimed in his resignation statement that he had been misled by party headquarters over membership numbers. Ms Sturgeon admitted the SNP “mishandled that situation” but said her husband had planned to step down with her anyway.

Ms Ardern became the world’s youngest female head of government when she was elected New Zealand prime minister in 2017 at 37. She quit on Jan 19 this year after five and a half years in the role.

At the time, Ms Sturgeon said she would follow suit if she felt “I can’t give the job everything it deserves”. However, she said she was “nowhere near” ready to resign and had “plenty in the tank” after more than eight years as first minister.

‘Not one single thing that prompted my resignation’

She told Loose Women that there was not “one single thing” that prompted her resignation and she had “probably been coming to the decision subconsciously for quite a while, certainly maybe from the tail end of last year”.

“I remember watching the New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern making her statement and I remember thinking I wish that was me,” Ms Sturgeon said.

“And that’s when it went from the subconscious to the conscious. I then realised it was the right time for me but then you go through that process of ‘am I letting other people down? Is it wrong for my party or the country?’

“And it took me a bit longer to decide, actually, I think it’s the right time for everybody. There is such a thing as being in frontline leadership politics for too long and in a democracy change is a good thing and it can be difficult, as my party is finding out just now.”

Ms Sturgeon quit on Feb 15, less than a month after Ms Ardern, and informed only a few confidantes.

Speaking later at a question-and-answer session hosted by the Royal Society of Arts in London, she admitted she felt “envy” watching Ms Ardern quit.

Ms Sturgeon denied the furore over her self-ID gender reforms had contributed to her resignation, although she said she regretted not being able to “get that debate into a more rational space”.

Mike Russell, the SNP’s interim chief executive, has said the contest to succeed her is in a “tremendous mess” but Ms Sturgeon insisted: “The SNP is not in a mess.

She said the SNP had not lost an election in Scotland since 2010 and still had more members than “all of the other parties combined”, despite 30,000 having left.

‘We mishandled membership number situation’

Nicola Sturgeon and her husband Peter Murrell - AFP
Nicola Sturgeon and her husband Peter Murrell - AFP

On Mr Murrell quitting over the false membership numbers given to the media, she said: “My husband has been chief executive of the SNP for longer than I’ve been leader. He was going to step down to give a new leader the chance to have a new chief executive and has decided to take responsibility for that situation now and I think rightly.

“We mishandled that situation. We were asked a specific question not ‘what’s the size of your membership’, but ‘have you lost 30,000 members because of X and Y?’ We answered in that sense, we should have framed it in a bigger way.”

But Meghan Gallagher, the Scottish Tories’ deputy leader, said: “It’s clear Nicola Sturgeon has already mentally checked out of Bute House and is focusing on the next phase of her life.

“But as she heads off into the sunset, the first minister - along with her husband - leave a trail of destruction in their wake for the SNP and the country. How she can deny her party is in a mess is mind-boggling, given her departure has sparked a brutal civil war.”