Leaders: Sturgeon’s dilemma

First minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: PA
First minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: PA
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POLL on Scots’ response to EU referendum raises the stakes for First Minister

Our poll today throws into stark relief the difficult decisions the Scottish National Party will have to make as the UK votes on its membership of the European Union.

It is widely expected that the majority of Scots will vote to stay in the EU, although there are some signs that support might be slipping. For the UK as a whole it is far less certain what the result might be.

The First Minister has gone on record to say that should Scotland vote to stay in, and the rest of the UK vote to leave, that would lead to consideration of another independence referendum for Scotland. Our poll today shows that when Don’t Knows are not counted, as was common practice in the 
run-up to the 2014 referendum, a majority of Scots believe that such an EU referendum result should mean a second Scottish referendum. Our poll also shows that in the event of such an independence referendum being held, most Scots, again excluding Don’t Knows, would vote for separation, by a margin of 53 per cent for Yes and 47 per cent for No.

This then should make it clear to the First Minister exactly what to campaign for in the forthcoming referendum. She wants Scots to vote to remain, and will hope the residents of the rest of the UK vote to leave. That way she and her party and thousands of supporters get the justifiable trigger for another independence referendum.

But the big problem with that is even if support for a Yes vote at that point is showing higher than a No vote, is it high enough? Before any new referendum is called, the SNP will need to be as certain as they can be that they will win. Another loss would end the independence drive for years, possibly decades. Has the feeling in the country moved enough, or is this trigger coming just too soon, as the last referendum came sooner than many would have liked?

Sturgeon’s conference call for a summer drive to promote the case for independence and the lack of talk over a second referendum would lead observers to believe that the EU result might not prove to be a trigger at all.

Time for reflection

Twenty years ago today, the small town of Dunblane witnessed an obscene and pointless tragedy. Sixteen primary school children, aged just five or six, were shot dead along with their teacher as they prepared for a PE lesson. The pain suffered by those families directly affected and the grief that engulfed the town were felt around the world.

For some, this day is an unwanted reminder of the darkest of days, and for others, a necessary part of a grieving process that has no end.

In the two decades that have passed, the town has found ways to heal but scars remain. Today, we should all stop and think of those who do not need an anniversary to be reminded of this appalling inhumanity.