Scottish independence: Nicola Sturgeon sold voters on a fairy tale that is already starting to go wrong – Kenny MacAskill MP

Sometimes life just doesn’t go according to script.

Nicola Sturgeon has been 'almost Teflon' over her handling of the Covid crisis but that is changing, says Kenny MacAskill (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/WPA pool/Getty Images)
Nicola Sturgeon has been 'almost Teflon' over her handling of the Covid crisis but that is changing, says Kenny MacAskill (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/WPA pool/Getty Images)

The Euro 2020 tournament was one such event where, like many, I thought England were destined to win. More so when it went to penalties and it seemed as if ghosts would be slain. But it wasn’t to be, and I feel sorry for Gareth Southgate and his team. He’s as admirable as they’re formidable.

But I’ve no sympathy for those in the SNP who predicted a referendum was sure to follow their victory in May’s elections. Not only that but when it was held, victory would be all but guaranteed.

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There was good reason to feel it might just have been England’s year on the football pitch, there was none to believe that Boris Johnson would concede a section 30 order to allow an independence referendum. Bad luck and nerves cost England, there’s no excuses for the SNP.

Far from blinking, Johnson has been emboldened. The Tories didn’t do well in Scotland, but he doesn’t care. The vaccination roll-out and a football feel-good factor in England mean even the calamitous restriction-lifting won’t unduly perturb him. He’s ensconced and knows it. A safe majority and a weak opposition, he’s just going to ignore SNP pleas and carry on regardless. Scotland has much to fear.

None of that was in the Team SNP script. Instead he was to baulk when the votes piled up for the SNP and pile up they did, but to no avail. Scotland’s no closer to a second referendum now than it was before the election. It was all a ruse or simply foolishness and naivety. Probably both.

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But what does that do for the second strand of the script which was that, after the referendum was dutifully ceded, it would be called in due course when the pandemic had passed? Then a public so beholden to the Good Princess whose leadership had saved the people from the nasty virus and the incompetence of the Big Bad Overlord would dutifully do as she bid.

Everyone would then live happily ever after in the new land. All that was needed was to “wheesht”, vote accordingly and it would all come true. It was a fairy story.

Instead we’re now in a place where we’ve no section 30 order or sign of a referendum and awaiting the pandemic recovery is fanciful as Boris Johnson pursues a strategy of “let it rip”.

Far from a grateful population, Nicola Sturgeon’s going to face growing frustration and anger, as there can’t be a recovery without independence.

To date she’s been almost Teflon where her coronavirus presentational skills have absolved her of blame. But those days are past and attempts to achieve the elimination of Covid now seem a lifetime ago.

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She’ll offer Johnson Lite but it’ll still come at a cost. The return of exams, school and university, never mind a care home inquiry, is still to come and is fraught with difficulties to say the least.

The reality’s a referendum has still to be won, the cause needs separated from the Scottish government and it must come soon.

Kenny MacAskill is the Alba Party MP for East Lothian

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