Scottish independence: Nicola Sturgeon's masterplan is no more than overgrown student politics – Brian Wilson

It was amusing that Nicola Sturgeon opened her long-winded, but wafer-thin grand plan by quoting from the Scottish Constitutional Convention. Ah, yes. That will be the one the SNP boycotted.

This was because it allowed for the possibility that the Scottish people’s view on the “form of government best suited to their needs” might not coincide with the SNP’s sole raison d’etre, the establishment of a separate state. And so it has continued.

Everything thereafter has been a tactic to achieve, even for a moment, the blissful state in which the Scottish people’s view on “the form of government best suited to their needs” coincides with the SNP’s own. Only at that point will “democracy” be declared.

Fortunately, the Scottish people continue to take a different view. Even with all the hype around this week’s non-event, barely a third of the population assent to another referendum on Ms Sturgeon’s timetable. Yet on and on she bores.

Nicola Sturgeon, in her younger days, attends an anti-nuclear protest at Faslane nuclear submarine base on the Clyde (Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA)

Out of this week’s verbiage, a two-stage plan emerged. The first is to ask the Supreme Court if a hypothetical Bill would be within the Holyrood remit. “Lawyers and messengers-at-arms” had been dispatched even as she spoke, to deposit this brain-teaser with the Supreme Court.

Neither common sense nor any serious legal figure has accorded credibility to this little melodrama. Indeed, it is does not say much for the Lord Advocate that she has played along. Presumably it was in the terms of employment when she took the gig.

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When the Supreme Court knocks her back, stage two of the Sturgeon plan kicks in. By then the Scottish people are presumed to be in a state of ferment in response to the Supreme Court ruling. This seems improbable but it is the shoogly peg on which the great plan hangs.

At that point, it moves from the divisive to the delusional. Ms Sturgeon will instruct the nation to treat the General Election as a “de facto referendum”. The quiet zealot, John Swinney, thought that meant a majority of SNP seats. Ms Sturgeon clarified that it means a plurality of SNP votes (maybe with a bit of Greenery thrown in).

Either way, it makes no sense except as fodder for her more gullible followers. Long before the next General Election, it will have been quietly forgotten and the SNP, like every party past and present, will seek votes on whatever basis they can muster, rather than a single issue.

As Professor James Mitchell put it: "There are elections and there are referendums and they are quite distinct… It's not for a political party to dictate the terms of an election.” That is so basic that pretending otherwise owes more to overgrown student politics than to brilliant strategic thinking.

Helpfully, Ms Sturgeon has confirmed this very point. In 2019, she urged people to vote SNP in European elections “whether you’re for or against independence”. Last year, she solicited votes off the back of Covid, specifically stating this was regardless of views on a second referendum.

A vision of the same individual high-mindedly telling people not to vote SNP unless they want independence because this is a “de facto referendum”, is self-evident nonsense and will be treated as such.

While the rest of Britain decides on a government, Ms Sturgeon claims she can instruct Scotland to vote only about the constitution. All under the pretence that independence alone holds the key to a promised land she has lamentably failed to sign-post through powers she already holds.

Let’s not forget that £20 million of public money is being used in a time of widespread hardship to promote this political campaign. It is insulting to people fighting the challenges of daily life that we are now threatened with months and years of the same dead-end self-promotion.

Anyone who wants to know what real politics is about might usefully read the exchanges between Ms Sturgeon and Anas Sarwar at First Minister’s Question Time on the horrendous cancer treatment waiting times in Ms Sturgeon’s Scotland.

Instead, Holyrood is dominated by a vanity project that does not add up to a row of beans.

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