Scottish independence: SNP's Supreme Court antics are not the only sign of their spin over substance – Kenny MacAskill MP

The SNP trumpeting its lodging of written legal arguments about Indyref2 with the Supreme Court was spin over substance, sadly a trait that’s all-too habitual from Nicola Sturgeon’s administration.

Of course, their Lordships agreeing to accept the party’s submission had more substance than me sending them a copy of the Beano. But the right to appear in person, it was not.

Besides, simply having your pleadings with the written papers matters little when you’re not there to argue in support of them. Instead, they’re dependent on being mentioned by the Lord Advocate in her oral pleadings.

Yet the reason the case is being brought is that she was unwilling to sign off legislation on a referendum, showing her own views. Compounding that, her own written submissions accept earlier judgments of Westminster sovereignty on Holyrood legislation.

So, if this is some historic victory, I’m a Dutchman.

Instead, it’s simply spinning when the SNP knows the reality’s poor. They’ve started down that route to appease growing disgruntlement with the handling of their fundamental cause. This attitude is replicated in their wider governance.

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Firstly, there was the announcement of a rent freeze to address the cost-of-living crisis. Excellent, a hard-pressed tenant might think; and I’ve children, now young adults, struggling to meet sky-high prices in Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

Nicola Sturgeon's Scottish independence referendum drive is designed to placate disgruntled supporters (Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA)

But as with the Supreme Court, the spin wasn’t matched by any substance.

Many rent levels have been set as they follow the financial year but, blow me down with a feather, the freeze ends next year just when they’ll be set again.

This got headlines but achieved little other than ensuring some rented properties will be sold off. What was needed was targeted powers that would actually work. That and building more council and rental houses, as well as cracking down on Airbnbs. This is a rent freeze which freezes few rents.

Secondly, as the alcohol death toll mounts, policy inaction remains. Ask the government about flagship policies and addressing the tragedy and they’ll mention minimum unit pricing (MUP).

The reality is the price is too low to be effective and there’s no review now until the end of 2023. With galloping inflation, a great policy’s evaporating like snow on the hills.

Spin over substance looks set to continue relentlessly.

Kenny MacAskill is Alba Party MP for East Lothian

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