NICOLA Sturgeon is the “pre-eminent British politician of this generation” and is a long way from quitting as First Minister, a former Scottish Tory communications boss has said.

Writing in the National’s sister paper The Herald, Andy Maciver dismissed suggestions that the SNP leader was soon to step down.

Maciver, who now runs the political consultancy firm Message Matters, said that analysis around the recent spate of polls showing a dip in support for Sturgeon, the SNP, and independence “lacked any meaningful context”.

READ MORE: Where did the rumour that Nicola Sturgeon is stepping down come from?

“At 43 per cent, Ms Sturgeon’s favourability is thrice that of Douglas Ross, and half-again as much as Anas Sarwar’s,” he wrote. “It is 10 points higher than Sir Keir, the man who is about to ride in on the white horse.

“And at 44 per cent, the SNP’s poll rating is enough to translate into 62 seats at a Holyrood election; another landslide and another near-busting of the proportional representation system.”

Maciver said that Sturgeon was “as I think most with a degree of impartiality would concede, the pre-eminent British politician of this generation”.

He went on: “She is the biggest beast on the plains. She has had complete control of her party, and of the Scottish Parliament, for nearly a decade. And, particularly during the Covid pandemic, she showed herself to have the intellect, the rigour, the stomach for the most exacting test leadership has to offer.”

Despite that, Maciver said there had been much talk of her “imminent demise” among political circles, although no one seemed to have an answer to how exactly it would come about.

“Here is what I will say is true: Nicola Sturgeon is closer to the end than the start,” he went on. “Now in her ninth year in the top job, she will not be there in another nine. And she will, perhaps, never again enjoy the ratings – personal and party – that she has in the past.”

Maciver said it would be a “brave observer” who would rule out Sturgeon leading Scotland to independence and becoming “the most impactful politician of any of our lifetimes”.

He concluded: “Nicola Sturgeon may be on the slide. But if she is, it’s a long slide, she’s still near the top, and she might yet break the rules and climb back up it.”

Demands for Sturgeon to step down have become something of a motif in Scottish politics, reaching a crescendo ahead of the 2021 Holyrood elections amid scrutiny of the handling of harassment complaints against former first minister Alex Salmond.

The issue cropped up again in November of that year, leading Sturgeon to hit out at the "daft" headlines.

And the question of resignation was again the focus of media questioning after the Supreme Court ruled Holyrood cannot legislate for indyref2 without Westminster consent.