HE said she was “the most brilliant woman in Scottish politics”. She said he was “remarkable and outstanding”. But there has been a lot of blood under the bridge since that extraordinary rally in Glasgow’s Hydro two months after the 2014 referendum. That Salmond/Sturgeon mutual admiration society is well dead.

What else could not be reprised as the First Minister addressed her troops virtually was the electric atmosphere of that Hydro gig – the closing stage of her nationwide tour.

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Leaders’ speeches are generally thought to be addressing two audiences with different agendas; the one in the hall and the wider public outside. These virtual days, everyone is outside, and the FM had to find a way of introducing a note, if not of intimacy, then at least chummy camaraderie.

Nicola Sturgeon is no amateur at dramatics; she’s well aware of which buttons her troops most wanted pressed.

The National:

The pledges around another referendum were saved till the end of a speech which didn’t shy from taking assorted pops at the Westminster government or the Prime Minister, of whom she admitted she was not the greatest fan.

Two things would have jumped out at those with antennae acutely tuned into this issue; her repeated contention that nothing could happen whilst Covid still ran rampant through the population and the NHS – by the end of 2023 promise for indyref2 would be contingent on that – and the use of the word “legal” before referendum.

Clearly she believes nothing less than the much quoted “gold standard” variety would cut the necessary ice in Europe.

Whilst she was repeatedly at pains to emphasise that the choice of Scotland’s future should never be down to a party with half a dozen Westminster seats in Scotland, and spoke of her hopes for co-operation rather than confrontation, there is an obvious question mark over who decides on the legality of a new poll.

Is it a reserved matter as the PM and his troops repeatedly assert, or are the people of Scotland sovereign as has also been conceded? If and when the referendum bill becomes law in Holyrood will London too plump for co-operation or test the proposition in the Supreme Court?

Much of the rest of her speech served to underscore just how divergent the paths have become between the aspirations of the governments in Edinburgh and London.

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The stark contrast in the attitudes to migration. The desire to rejoin the massive European market given the disastrous impact of Brexit on everything from the Scottish food and drink industries to its universities. A market “seven times the size of the UK one.” The dangers of upcoming trade deals to Scotland’s health service.

Pursuing the hardest of Brexits mid-pandemic was “an unnecessary and unforgiveable act”

Scotland, she said, faced the double whammy of a London government whose actions would make Scotland poorer, and which would then tell us we were too poor to cope with independence.

“They want us to believe we are powerless in the face of the disastrous decisions they have taken for us.”

And having cut off our trade with Europe, they would argue that we were too dependant on England.

The National:

She contrasted, too, the markedly different approaches to transforming social care – a hike in the National Insurance payments which would hit the poorest and youngest from Westminster, and a commitment to a decently paid new Social Care service in Scotland.

And while her government was committed to doubling child benefits, Johnson’s was cutting £20 from Universal credit, “literally taking food out of children’s mouths.” His Cabinet either didn’t understand the devastating impact or didn’t care.

It must be difficult getting the adrenaline flowing speaking from your living room rather than a podium facing thousands of the faithful. How it played in Downing Street we, and she, will shortly find out.