Nine years on from indyref, the SNP is resorting to dangerous political fantasy – Pamela Nash

Humza Yousaf appears to believe he could lose 20 MPs in the general election and still claim the result gave him a mandate to demand independence

This week marks the anniversary of the referendum when the people of Scotland decisively chose to remain part of the UK, in a contest described as the “gold standard” and a “once-in-a-generation” event by Nicola Sturgeon. The SNP’s divisive campaign with false threats about our NHS being privatised and wild predictions about North Sea oil revenues was rejected by voters.

There have been some turbulent times since, there’s no denying that: Brexit upheaval, the Covid pandemic and now the cost-of-living crisis. But through all these challenges, we have been stronger as part of the UK, ensuring we have more available to spend on cherished public services like the NHS and enabling hundreds of millions of pounds in Covid support for furloughed workers and rapid vaccine roll-outs.

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Sadly, the period since the referendum has been marked by relentless SNP attempts to divide friends and families – the nationalists didn’t accept the result from day one, and that’s the main reason why Scotland in Union still exists today: to represent the majority of people in our country.

Just imagine what the Scottish Government could have achieved if it had focused on the day job rather than constitutional grievance. SNP politicians have systematically damaged each and every public service they are in charge of as their focus lies elsewhere. As part of the UK, we have the tools to build a brighter future for every community in every nation and region.

Unfortunately, years of SNP mismanagement mean we have record NHS waiting lists, a tragic attainment gap in our schools, and council services cut to the bone. We are crying out for the First Minister to prioritise these challenges that have been created by his government.

Instead, Humza Yousaf is spending his time dreaming up new constitutional wheezes. The latest is a new version of the SNP’s so-called ‘de facto’ referendum at the next UK general election. We’ve had a majority of the vote in percentage terms, then a majority of seats, and now the “most” seats.

That means, in the SNP’s fantasy politics, the party could suffer the massive loss of, say, 20 of its MPs, see its percentage of the vote slashed, and finish just one seat ahead of its nearest rival – and then claim the result was a mandate to leave the UK without a further referendum. This would be chaotic, and nothing short of dangerous.

Can you imagine the reaction in Scotland, across the UK and in international capitals to this incoherent nonsense? The changing goalposts are nothing but a reflection of the SNP’s worsening poll ratings, with Scots increasingly fed up with the government’s poor handling of public services and the economy.

In any case, it is not for any party to tell voters to vote on a single issue. People must be able to express their views on all important issues at the forthcoming election, including improving energy costs and security, boosting the economy and creating jobs, and addressing the cost-of-living crisis.

It’s time for the SNP to stop stoking up constitutional grievances, end the spending on anti-UK propaganda, and scrap the post of ‘minister for independence’. It’s time for the people’s priorities, not the SNP’s.

Pamela Nash is chief executive of Scotland in Union, the country’s largest pro-UK campaign group



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