WATCHING Nicola Sturgeon take a dive from her podium in Bute House yesterday brought to mind that line from Macbeth: “Nothing in his life became him like the leaving it.”

In the First Minister’s case, nothing summed her up better than the manner of her exit. Ye gods that was some display of brass neck.

Only weeks ago, her political soulmate, Jacinda Ardern, resigned as Prime Minister of New Zealand, saying she no longer had “enough in the tank”. Ms Sturgeon, in response, reassured everyone that there was “plenty” in her tank. But no longer.

She must have been on quite the journey in the last month; the political equivalent of Edinburgh to Wellington perhaps. Something happened to alter her position so radically. She spoke of personal, life-changing events including the departure of a dear friend. There is no more powerful reminder of time passing too quickly than a funeral. Any decent person will sympathise with the First Minister on that score.

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She was insistent that short-term pressures were not to blame for her decision. Been there, done that so many times was the gist of her response.

So the sudden resignation had nothing to do with a recent poll casting her as vastly out of touch with the public? Nothing to do with the gender recognition reform fiasco? Nothing to do with a media onslaught and calls for her to go?

The media criticism was not just from the Scottish press this time. Those famously unreconstructed *******, as Blair’s spokesman Alistair Campbell dubbed them, were not alone now in wondering about the Empress’s sartorial choices. They were at it in the London papers too, and internationally.

Ms Sturgeon is probably right to say she has had worse days in office. The blame for some of them can be laid at the door of her predecessor. Not all of them, though. The First Minister has been the author of her own political misfortunes. From ferries and the state of the NHS to the attainment gap, the failures happened on her watch.

As she so often reminded critics, she took ultimate responsibility. Hence her reluctance to sack colleagues even when they deserved it. Yet in appearing to take the blame she sought to deflect it, and there was only so long those temporary fixes would hold.

Her Bute House sayonara was a curious mix of the political and the personal. The political, in large part, was glossed over. It would be for others to judge her, she said, and they will.

HeraldScotland: Nicola Sturgeon, who will stay on as an MSP until the next election, used her resignation speech as 'a curious mix of the political and personal'Nicola Sturgeon, who will stay on as an MSP until the next election, used her resignation speech as 'a curious mix of the political and personal' (Image: Newsquest)

Even then, as she spoke of her tendency to polarise opinion, she was distancing herself from any blame that might come her way. If people simply did not like her they were never going to give her a fair shake, were they?

Many did like her though. It is no exaggeration to say some loved her and will carry on doing so. She was the face of modern Scotland, a leader you could be proud of, regardless of political affiliation.

Yes, there were the knuckledraggers, the misogynists, the haters. They were never going to change their opinion of her. Every pond has its scum.

The majority of folk would recognise that, as one letter writer to The Herald put it this week, she tried. Worked hard, too, of that there is no doubt.

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So she put in quite the shift. A lot of people do. But as for the rest, gie's peace. I’m not expecting violins she said, but she wasn’t exactly discouraging them either. What stuck in this craw in particular was her assertion that: "The nature and form of modern political discourse means there is a much greater intensity – dare I say it brutality – to life as a politician than in years gone by."

She is a seasoned enough political operator to know that this would dominate the headlines and elicit sympathy. Yet once again it leaves an odd taste in the mouth. In her long career in politics she has dispensed her fair share of rough verbal justice. She’s often the fastest to do so on social media. In parliament she regularly uses her opponents’ heads to mop the floor. So where has this newfound yearning to sit round the campfire and sing Kumbaya come from?

As for there being “virtually no privacy in this job” she was given a pretty lenient seven years to publish her tax returns, to give one instance, and the papers are hardly awash with shots of her doing the big shop at Asda. I’m sure some papers would love to carry them, but they don’t because they fear the (deserved) backlash that would follow.

Ms Sturgeon is a tough cookie and I offer that as a compliment. At one point in the press conference she joked about not wanting to cry. In fact, she handled the event with aplomb, so much so that by the time she took questions from the press she was back to her wry old self, someone quick to see the absurdity in things, who would not take herself too seriously. And with that she was gone.

Well not quite gone; she will be there till a new leader is elected and carry on as an MSP for at least three years. It is hard to think of any job, other than politician, where you can resign but carry on working, albeit with a reduced salary. And don’t forget the pension, the likes of which few of us will ever enjoy.

Remember, too, that she is not being ousted from office, she has not lost an election, she is going because she wants to, on her terms and at a time of her choosing. Jealous? Not half.

But hey, give a First Minister a break. She’s 53 in July. She wants to stop and smell the roses, have some of what they’re having at the next table. Good for her, but what happened to the notion of sticking around till the job was done and clearing up your own mess before you go? Or is that just for mugs?

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Her resignation ultimately changes nothing. As she acknowledged, there are bigger matters in life than politicians who come and go. Those who spent yesterday waiting in pain for an operation are still waiting today. Life goes on.

The process started before she even left the podium. News abhors a vacuum. The breaking news banner at the bottom of the screen announced a forthcoming police press conference about a missing person. The screen split, leaving Nicola Sturgeon in one half. Soon she was gone from vision entirely.

Cheerio then, First Minister. Don’t let our expectations trouble you on the way out.