Scottish independence: Nicola Sturgeon's political Ponzi scheme puts her on a par with Bernie Madoff – Murdo Fraser

A Ponzi scheme is an investment fraud where money from new investors is used to pay existing investors but there is no actual functioning enterprise.

They can appear successful only so long as new investors outnumber those taking their money out. As soon as a critical number ask to withdraw their cash, outnumbering new investors, the fraud is exposed and the scheme collapses.

A large number of nationalists have invested their faith and hope in Nicola Sturgeon over the years, most notably to deliver a second independence referendum. Now it seems that a number of those investors are looking for a return on their investment all at once. If she fails to deliver, her entire political career may, in the next little while, appear to have been nothing more than a political Ponzi scheme.

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Since she became SNP leader, Ms Sturgeon has offered her supporters another independence referendum by the end of the parliament. Next year. Just after the next election. She’s done that for nearly a decade. In retrospect, her vain attempt to go to the Supreme Court looks like a desperate delaying tactic. Now, in a move worthy of Tommy Cooper, she is offering the proposition, “when is a general election, not an election? When I call it a referendum.” Sadly, she doesn’t seem to have the chutzpah of the old dead comic magician.

Not even the ruling body of the SNP is buying that one, in a humiliating move for her, insisting that more than one option is put to her ‘special’ conference, with a Plan B of using the 2026 Holyrood election as a ‘proxy referendum’ also on the table. Ms Sturgeon’s political cheques are beginning to bounce.

The manager of her Westminster branch, Ian Blackford, has been sacked and replaced by disgruntled investors. Confidence is crumbling and not just within the walls of the SNP.

For years she has assured the people of Scotland that they have the best health service in the UK. Now the statistic authorities say her figures are wrong and that our hospitals and clinics are failing, and not because of the doctors and nurses.

She is on record as saying she wants every Scots child to have the same standard of schooling she received – when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister. Certainly those days were halcyon compared to the Sturgeon years when the attainment gap she pledged to narrow has widened.

Bernie Madoff was given a 150-year prison sentence for the biggest investment fraud in US history, totalling as much as $65 billion (Picture: Timothy A Clary/AFP via Getty Images)

The First Minister has sold out our renewable energy resources abroad. While jobs and profits will be made overseas, the finances at home are hopeless. The investment in the Scottish NHS she boasts of comes from Barnett consequentials, not because of anything she has done.

Ponzi schemes are rumbled when people stop believing in the judgement or words of the person running it. You do not need to look far to hear nationalist voices who doubt her strategy to deliver a referendum. Now many question whether trans rights is the right ground for her to pick a fight with Westminster.

Many believe holding another referendum was never part of Nicola Sturgeon’s career plan. By now she had hoped to have ‘made off’ with a United Nations sinecure. Now, having lingered too long, she may be remembered as a different sort of Madoff. Bernie.

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Murdo Fraser is a Scottish Conservative MSP for Mid-Scotland and Fife



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