NICOLA Sturgeon has defending John Swinney in a no-confidence vote, calling him “one of the most decent and dedicated people in Scottish politics”.

Talking up for her deputy, Sturgeon said that when the Education Secretary “gets something wrong, he has the humility to say so and to put it right”.

The First Minister again apologised to young people whose marks were downgraded, saying that Swinney was also sorry.

She said: “In a unique set of circumstances we took decisions that we considered to be on balance the right ones.”

The First Minister went on to compare the downgradings in Scotland with those reported on Thursday in England, where almost 40% of marks were moderated down.

She said: “For Scottish Labour and the Scottish Conservatives, this is not about principle, this is simply about politics.”

READ MORE: SNP hit out at Tories for 'rank hypocrisy' over English exam results

Sturgeon added: “Those watching outside this chamber, for them, one of the questions thrown up by this motion today is what exactly do we want our politics to look like?

“My view is that making mistakes in unique circumstances, acknowledging those mistakes and fixing them is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of a system that works and of a minister who when a mistake is made takes the right approach.

“In the midst of a global pandemic neither our education system nor our politics will be made better by a resignation over a mistake which has been corrected.”

Labour leader Richard Leonard said the motion was about accountability.

He said that the Education Secretary has “failed” to carry out his duty and “no longer commands the confidence of this chamber”.

Leonard added: “We decided that we have no choice but to table this motion of no confidence.

“This is not a decision that we took lightly, motions of no confidence have been laid only sparingly in the history of this parliament.”

Despite support from Labour, the Tories and the LibDems, the motion is expected to fall at decision time.