Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of having a “Donald Trump style meltdown” after she claimed critics who accused her of missing a key Covid vaccination target lacked intelligence.
The First Minister said she had been assuming “common sense” among her audience when she told the Holyrood chamber last month that she planned to fully vaccinate everyone in their 40s by Monday this week.
Official figures show around a quarter of people in the age group were yet to receive a second dose, but Ms Sturgeon claimed it was a “fact” that she had met the target as they had been offered a jab, even if it had not been administered.
Asked about the missed goal at her virus briefing, Ms Sturgeon attacked Holyrood rivals and journalists, saying she had assumed a “certain level of intelligence” on the part of those listening and that her words should not have been taken at face value.
Annie Wells, the Scottish Tory health spokeswoman, accused Ms Sturgeon of treating the public “like fools”.
She said: “In a Trump-style meltdown for the ages, the First Minister claimed she was communicating at a more intelligent, higher level than the rest of us.
“Her defence for missing a key vaccine target seems to be that nobody understands Nicola except Nicola.
“People hoping for answers to serious questions instead got a truly bizarre rant. She talked down to us mere mortals because we had the audacity to believe she had meant what she said in the Scottish Parliament.”
The First Minister said last month that “by July 26 we expect to have given second doses to all 40 to 49-year-olds”.
Anthony Ezziane, 41, receiving his vaccination on the Covid bus, Celtic Park, Glasgow
Credit: Stuart Nicol
However she claimed on Tuesday that this should not have been taken as a pledge to fully vaccinate everyone in their 40s, as this would not have been realistic. More than 90 per cent of people in their 40s have received a first dose, but the figure for both doses was just 77.3 per cent on Tuesday.
At her press briefing, Ms Sturgeon said that if politicians and journalists thought she had been promising to vaccinate everyone in their 40s when she made the pledge there would have been a “clamour of questions” about the target.
She said: “In fact I don’t think there was a single one– asking me how on earth I was going to deliver that commitment?"
She added: “When I communicate, and I apologise if this is an error, I kind of communicate at a level where I assume a certain level of intelligence on the part of people listening to me, because I think that’s justified. And I assume a certain ability to attach context and common sense to what I am saying.”
Ms Sturgeon insisted uptake levels are already “extraordinarily high”, and apologised to a reporter who asked about the missed targets for her “rant”.
Alex Cole-Hamilton, the Scottish Lib Dem health spokesman, said: “The fact is that the First Minister said over 40s would be vaccinated by now and they are not.
“Rather than take it out on journalists asking questions, she should ask her Health Secretary why he closed the biggest and most prominent walk-in centres and why he has not instructed staff to hit the phones and win over any waverers.”