Tuesday, 15 Jun 2021

Sturgeon shots herself in foot: SNP’s ‘fantasy’ plan to woo voters for Indyref2 under fire

Nicola Sturgeon 'walking nationalist tightrope' says expert

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Scotland’s First Minister has taken the majority of pro-independence MSPs elected to Holyrood last month as a “mandate” from the voters to push ahead with a second referendum. However, the Scottish National Party (SNP) actually fell one seat short of a majority, meaning it now relies on the support from the eight Scottish Green seats. It also means that there are still 57 seats for Unionist parties in Holyrood after voters showed their support for the Conservative Party, Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

The SNP has subsequently renewed the arguments for independence to win over the rest of the Scottish public.

But, political commentator John Ferry claimed: “The SNP will try to be all things to all voters to get independence over the line.

“Worrying about the real-life consequences of the policy can come later.”

He continued: “Whatever your dream, the SNP will give you a glimpse of it and promise it is within touching distance if only you believe and don’t ask too many difficult questions.”

He described their promises as “project fantasy” for a “project fantasy party”.

The most common example to back up Mr Ferry’s claims in the Spectator is the SNP’s highly-publicised bid to rejoin the EU.

The nationalists revived their independence bid after the 2016 EU referendum saw a majority of Scots (62 percent) vote to Remain — only for the overall UK to vote Leave.

Ms Sturgeon subsequently argued that Scotland was taken out of Brussels “against its will”, and has promised its pro-EU public that an independent country would rejoin the bloc.

However, critics have pointed out that the SNP has never made it clear how that would be possible considering Scotland’s extensive deficit, and whether it would be willing to adopt the euro in its bid to rejoin.

Scotland would also have to become independent in the eyes of the law and the constitution — meaning Downing Street would have to grant any referendum on the matter legitimacy, even though Prime Minister Boris Johnson has just declared Indyref2 “irresponsible and reckless”.

Scotland would also only be able to join the EU if there was unanimous agreement among all the 27 member states — and Spain would be expected to reject their application, to deter efforts from its own independence-seeking region of Catalonia.

The SNP has also made other promises to the Scottish public about Scotland’s potential as an independent country.

Neil Gray, an SNP MSP, claimed last month that an independent Scotland would be able to guarantee a minimum annual income of more than £37,000 — only for him to admit the plans were not yet costed.

The report behind this claim was described by a professor of public policy, James Mitchell, as “a campaign tool designed to win support for independence as much as anything else” — especially since many of the promises could be executed without Scotland going independent.

He added: “Strip away the promises of a better tomorrow and all the warm words and we see an immodest party making grandiose claims and promises after years of poor performance.”

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Mr Ferry also pointed out how this promise of more money counteracts the SNP’s 2018 Sustainable Growth Commission, which appears to push for a decade of austerity measures to reduce Scotland’s deficit.

The report, A Route to a Fair Independent Scotland, was championed by Mr Gray, the deputy convener of the SNP’s Social Justice and Fairness Commission, and is anti-austerity, putting the two blueprints for the future at odds with each other.

Mr Ferry concluded: “The irony is that the pursuit of separation at any cost is what presents the real danger to the welfare of Scots.”

But, the debate over independence is now at the centre of all Scottish politics — and often overshadows other issues, argues writer Mark Smith in the Scottish newspaper, The Herald.

He claimed: “In Scotland, the battlefield is independence with the issue now affecting every part of the system.

“What that means is that in recent years the behaviour of many voters has been unwillingly distorted by their opinion on nationalism: they may have voted Tory for the first time ever for instance, or stopped voting Labour — who they support depends on where a party stands on independence and policy issues have become almost irrelevant.”

He added: “It means a party can perform poorly on all of those issues [poverty, health and education] — as the SNP has done — and it effectively doesn’t matter.”

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