Brian Monteith: Why SNP's bid to restart independence debate is a joke

It would be laugh-out-loud hilarious if it was not so infuriating and damaging to our country's best interests. I am writing, of course, about our First Minister's self-delusion that she needs to 'restart the independence debate'.

Really? I think most of us, including quite a few people I know in the SNP, would say she’s never stopped.

Instead it’s those of us, the majority, who voted No, and some of those who voted Yes and just want to move on, who have stopped listening, flicked channels or pressed the mute button.

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The truth is Nicola Sturgeon has painted herself into a corner. She’s talked up the prospects of holding a second independence referendum so many times, only to disappoint. She has to show willing, for she has to keep her most ardent supporters happy – believing that one more campaign and the goal will be achieved, one last heave and victory will be theirs.

Nicola Sturgeon needs to move on from 2014, says Brian Monteith. Picture: John Devlin
Nicola Sturgeon needs to move on from 2014, says Brian Monteith. Picture: John Devlin

Meanwhile back in the real world, our beautiful, hardworking and inventive people are making the best of things despite – not because of – this SNP Government.

Nicola Sturgeon said she would be judged on the success of our education but with numeracy and literacy falling, with growing shortages of teachers and restrictions on what subjects pupils can choose, our education system is in badly need of help. The First Minister would rather “restart” the independence debate than do the day job sorting out the schools.

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Nicola Sturgeon: Independence debate to restart this week

Farmers have been stretched to breaking point, some losing their land and others pushed into debt waiting on their EU payments handled by the SNP government – some for more than 18 months. Imagine your pay cheque coming late – but 18 months late? Again, the First Minister would rather “restart” the independence debate than do the day job of running the government competently.

The neglect of our roads is a disgrace and the promised improvements to the trains have been postponed yet again into next year instead of next month. But still the First Minister would rather “restart” the independence debate than dismiss the useless Transport Minister and find someone who can do his job properly.

Our local councils have been starved of cash – not through Tory austerity but SNP cuts – and the official figures from the Scottish Parliament’s own independent researchers show this to be an indisputable fact. Between 2013 and 2017 the SNP Government’s income fell by only 1.8 per cent but Nicola Sturgeon cut our local councils income cut by 7.1 per cent. The result can be seen in “Yes” supporting cities Glasgow and Dundee where the SNP-managed councils have, respectively, ended free swimming for kids and OAPs and free primary school swimming lessons. Help our local councils? No, our First Minister would rather “restart” the independence debate.

It doesn’t matter where you look, be it the NHS – with failing performance figures in various services, surgery closures and a growing shortage of GPs or the botched attempt to merge British Transport Police with Police Scotland – there’s failure, waste and incompetence to be found.

The First Minister doesn’t want to do her day job and deliver on what she’s paid for, no, she’d rather “restart” the independence debate and try to keep her followers satisfied “freedom” is just around the corner.

Well I can let them into a secret, if they want to win a referendum it ain’t going to happen any time soon. Support for keeping the UK together is stronger now than it has been for years. The latest poll shows 52 per cent to 30 per cent of Scots in favour of staying in the UK. On these figures – and they are just another example of a trending collapse in support for breaking up Britain – the SNP would suffer another humiliating defeat.

There’s no need to “restart” the debate – but there’s every reason to park it for now and sort out the mess her government has made of our pubic services.