As a non-SNP backed ‘March for Independence’ sets off in Glasgow, is Nicola Sturgeon losing control of events?
Sturgeon shares the demonstrators’ objective to separate Scotland from the rest of the UK, but not their sense of timing. The nationalist leader is a canny political operator. She knows another failed referendum will massively damage the separatist cause, plus she’ll lose her job.
For Sturgeon the journey to indyref2 is a tightrope walk. She must keep the dyed-in-the-wool nationalists on side. The SNP owes its power to its unity in the face of a fractured opposition in Holyrood – and she’ll need her enthusiasts on board if or when the time comes to campaign.
Yet, if she’s to avoid another defeat, she has to look beyond the flag-waving diehards and listen to what most Scots want. And, as outrage at the 23 June vote fades, the majority, it appears, are becoming increasingly pragmatic.
A YouGov poll shows only 16 per cent of us seeking another referendum before a UK-EU deal is done. We don’t want to be rushed into deciding between the UK and EU before we know what’s on offer.
Buoyed up by social media, many of Sturgeon’s core supporters and even some SNP MPs believe they would comfortably win indyref2 right now. The wily First Minister sees it differently.
Royal Circus, Edinburgh
The price of oil has sunk to $42 a barrel, which is disastrous for jobs in the North Sea, and terrible for Scotland’s budget. The White Paper for Independence said oil would raise £8 billion at $113 a barrel.
Now it raises nothing as the oil companies don’t make a profit on anything less than $75 a barrel. That is equivalent to nearly two thirds of Scotland’s NHS being cut, or more likely VAT rising to 25 per cent, like it is in Norway and Iceland, and income tax rising to 25 per cent. Brexit is not good news, but right now independence would be an unmitigated disaster.
Dalry Road, Edinburgh
Angus Robertson again ramps up the talk of another independence referendum, saying how Theresa May will not be prime minister of a United Kingdom for much longer given his view that we are on the “brink of independence”.
Meanwhile, the SNP spin doctors will have to hope the rest of the country has their ears covered, because those unsure of where they stand after the Brexit result will not be impressed by these daily reminders that for the SNP the EU is simply a lever to try to prise Scotland away from the UK. Particularly when we are just as regularly hearing of the latest missed targets in various of our critical public services, all on the SNP’s watch.
West Linton, Peeblesshire