NICOLA Sturgeon has said the SNP is too full of young people who have entered politics for “all the wrong reasons”.

The former first minister suggested that careerists who were entering politics for the sake of an influential job, rather than believing in a set of principles, were becoming an issue for all parties.

The comments, which were reported in The Telegraph, came as the former SNP leader spoke at the Charleston literary festival in Sussex.

Saying that she saw young people entering politics “for all the wrong reasons”, Sturgeon told the festival crowd: “I think politics, including in my own party now, is probably too full of young people who have just come through the political ranks.”

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Sturgeon worked as a solicitor for four years before becoming an MSP in the 1999 Holyrood elections.

Her comments have been criticised by Angus MacNeil, the former SNP MP for the Western Isles.

He wrote: “Lol, is it ‘National No-Self Awareness Day'?

“Does she mean [SNP Westminster leader Stephen] Flynn or [Scottish Energy Secretary Mairi] McAllan?

“Or is Sturgeon just giving the SNP a general boot? New slogan – ‘Young People Leave the SNP’ ain't a winner I feel.”

McAllan was a corporate lawyer and a government adviser before her election to Holyrood, while Flynn studied politics at university before becoming a councillor and then an MP.

Elsewhere at the literary festival, Sturgeon said she had taken the decision to resign as first minister because she felt she had become a focal point for the division in Scottish politics.

The National: Former first minister Nicola Sturgeon speaking at an event marking 25 years of devolution

“I think in politics you reach a point where you know in yourself that you don’t have as much to give anymore,” Sturgeon (above) said.

“I also thought that politics in Scotland, like politics everywhere right now, is pretty polarised”.

The former SNP leader said things had gotten to “the point where I thought I was part of that problem” because there was nobody in Scotland who “doesn’t have an opinion about me whether good or bad – and I’m not sure many people are indifferent”.

She went on: “It felt as if every issue, people were coming at that issue in terms of how they thought about me – that felt true on the trans issue, it felt true on a number of issues – so I thought, well, if I take myself out of that maybe the politics, the discourse and the debate in Scotland will be a bit more healthy.

“It hasn’t quite worked out that way, but yes that is why I decided to stand down.”