Scottish Election 2021: Boris Johnson will realise denying independence referendum is unsustainable – Angus Robertson
Scotland’s political parties are back on the campaign trail following a suspension marking the death of the Duke of Edinburgh.
Manifestos are being launched and messages communicated this week ahead of two key deadlines. Firstly, postal votes begin to be delivered to a record number of voters before the weekend.
Up to 40 per cent of the Scottish electorate are expected to use postal votes and, going by past experience, most will be cast almost immediately and sent back. The race to win some key seats may effectively be decided this week.
The second deadline is the last opportunity for voter registration. If you are not on the electoral register, you have until 11.59pm on April 19 to apply. Before next Monday you have plenty time to go online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote and make sure you have your say.
The forthcoming Scottish Parliament elections will probably be the most important since the beginning of devolution. Results will determine whether the SNP Scottish government and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon are re-elected with a majority and a strengthened mandate for Scotland’s future to be in the hands of people in Scotland.
Opinion polls show the SNP is far ahead of the opposition parties whose ambitions are limited to who can come in second.
In his analysis of the campaign so far, Professor John Curtice has highlighted the average level of SNP support in the constituency vote is 51 per cent as well as the favourable view of Nicola Sturgeon.
Clearly opposition attempts to damage the First Minister have failed. Professor Curtice also highlighted the weak support for the Alba Party and deep unpopularity of its leader Alex Salmond.
With only days to go until the first postal votes are cast and only 22 days until polling day itself, there is still a lot to play for. In Edinburgh, the SNP currently holds three out of six seats: Edinburgh Northern and Leith, Edinburgh Eastern and Edinburgh Pentlands.
The SNP is challenging to win Edinburgh South from the Labour Party, Edinburgh Western from the Liberal Democrats and Edinburgh Central from the Conservatives.
Increasingly, observers are pointing to the list vote as key to the national result. As we know from the 2011 Scottish Parliament election, when the SNP regional support almost matched its constituency result, it won regional seats across most of the country and secured its historic majority and an independence referendum.
When a gap opened up in 2016 between the constituency and list vote, the majority was lost. With the Alba party doing badly enough to not win any seats, their votes will not count for anything and reduce the chance of the SNP securing regional MSPs. All of which underlines why people should use both their votes for the SNP rather than trying to game the PR system.
Media reports from Westminster are increasingly reporting on the growing likelihood of an independence referendum following an SNP election victory.
Even Boris Johnson must understand that blocking democracy in Scotland is actually more damaging to the Union than letting the people decide.
This week, people in Scotland will begin casting their ballots as postal votes are delivered. If you haven’t yet registered to vote please do it before the deadline next Monday. Every vote will count.