NICOLA Sturgeon and Douglas Ross will today visit a drug recovery centre together in an unusual joint visit after heated exchanges over their working class commitments.

The leaders will visit the Bluevale Community Club in Glasgow’s Haghill to witness first-hand the group’s recovery and physical health services.

Drugs policy minister Angela Constance will also join the visit.

The club’s founder Kenny Trainer said he hopes the meeting can be a “turning point” when Scotland’s politicians finally take the necessary action to tackle the drug death crisis.

So, what caused the unusual joint meeting? Here, we detail out the heated exchanges.

Mr Ross told Ms Sturgeon last month she only had to “name the time and place” and accused her of “abandoning” the kind of community she grew up in.

It followed Mr Ross using his speech at the UK Tory conference in Manchester to claim that SNP had become “detached from working class communities”.


READ MORE: Drugs recovery group given £100,000 on day of Sturgeon/Ross visit

He said his party were now “the party of working Scotland”.

The First Minister previously denied being out of touch with working class voters.

Throwing down the gauntlet for the meeting, Ms Sturgeon last month accused the Tories of punishing those same people through the “morally indefensible” end to the £20-a-week uplift in Universal Credit.

She said: “The shame of these Tories. They are about to take food out of the mouths of children across working class communities the length and breadth of Scotland, including in Douglas Ross’s own constituency, and they have the nerve to make communities like this.

“Maybe Douglas Ross would like to come with me, and I’ll introduce him to some working class communities across the country, and then he will see who’s in touch with them and who is horribly out of touch with them.

“Because the Tories, like him, are doing them so much damage every day right now.”

At a later meeting of First Minister's Questions, Mr Ross suggested that he and Ms Sturgeon should visit Bluevale “to see the need for a right to recovery” up close.

He added: “Will the First Minister agree to a joint visit with me to Bluevale so we can find some common ground and get around the table with those on the front line...?"


Responding, Ms Sturgeon said: “I am certainly willing to meet with organisations and indeed with individuals – as I have previously – affected by drugs misuse.”

The Bluevale Community Club have operated a recovery group since mid-2021, with hopes to provide a range of services to people struggling with addiction.

Ahead of this morning's visit, the Scottish Government announced the organisation based in Glasgow would be receiving almost £100,000 over the next two years.

The organisation's founder Kenny Trainer, welcomed the funding and encouraged Ms Sturgeon and Mr Ross to "put their political differences aside".

How bad is Scotland’s drugs problem?

The number of people who have died from drugs in Scotland reached its highest level last year, and makes Scotland the drugs capital of Europe.

The latest annual figures show there were 1339 drug-related deaths in Scotland, a record high for the seventh year in a row and an increase of 75 deaths on the previous year.

Scotland’s drug death rate is also more than three-and-a-half times that of England and Wales.

What did Sturgeon and Ross say ahead of the visit?

Ms Sturgeon said: "The work being done by Bluevale Community Club in their local area helping people to live healthier lifestyles through their activity classes and recovery drop-ins is fantastic. It is an excellent example of how sustained, meaningful activities and supportive social networks are key to building stronger communities.

“The funding of almost £100,000 will help them focus on expanding these services further and give employment to young people who have given their time free until now."

Mr Ross said the drugs crisis was "our national shame" which "demands political leadership."

He said: "“Communities scarred by drugs need action, not more empty words. This visit must result in solutions, not more of the same.

"Frontline experts and families who have lost loved ones back our Right to Recovery Bill. We need the government to come onboard.

"I want to directly appeal to Nicola Sturgeon - put the politics aside, back our Bill, and let's finally give people in our communities hope that things will get better."