Scottish independence: Nationalists must stop bickering and unite to fight for common cause – Helen Martin

Nicola Sturgeon is leading the SNP into what could be the key moment in its history (Picture: Fraser Bremner/Scottish Daily Mail/PA Wire)Nicola Sturgeon is leading the SNP into what could be the key moment in its history (Picture: Fraser Bremner/Scottish Daily Mail/PA Wire)
Nicola Sturgeon is leading the SNP into what could be the key moment in its history (Picture: Fraser Bremner/Scottish Daily Mail/PA Wire)
Division over the Alex Salmond affair and the best tactics to achieve independence is not helping, writes Helen Martin

Whether it was Brexit, Boris and Cummings, or the complacent and disastrous handling of coronavirus, polls have shown that support for Scotland’s independence has grown with 54 per cent found to be in favour of leaving the UK.

Even Professor John Curtice has finally frightened unionists by publicly declaring that Scotland would vote to become independent if Indyref2 was held now.

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But last week he added that new pro-independence parties challenging the SNP and standing for next year’s Parliament elections could divide the movement and cause a big risk to achieving independence.

Meanwhile indy supporters, including those who have previously voted SNP, are in turmoil. And that is easily understood.

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Scottish Independence: Joanna Cherry MP tells SNP to abandon fighting Brexit

On the one hand, Nicola Sturgeon has “abandoned” the campaign for independence throughout coronavirus. People’s lives and health were her priority, as was dealing with the UK Government as Scotland does not have the “independent” right of borrowing to fund its country as Westminster does.

It’s reasonable to assume that if she had continued challenging him with politics rather than focusing on Covid-19, Johnson may have limited Scotland’s right to UK funds, even though Scotland generally receives less than it pays in. She is between a rock and a hard place.

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Unfortunately, Johnson is a different politician. Regardless of coronavirus, his priority is Brexit and its deadline at the end of this year. That wouldn’t have been so bad if Scotland subsequently held its Indyref2 next year, got back into the EU and moved forward. That was the plan.

But as part of “urgent” Brexit preparation, Boris is publicly dictating that “devolved” equals “dissolved”. Many, if not most, of the devolved powers are being taken back into Westminster. Once out of the EU, the UK has to have its own trade deals and legislation which will apply to all its countries.

The end result would be that Scotland and Wales (Northern Ireland being a bit of an exception) would eventually become something like a large council or administration rather than a government.

The Sword of Damocles would be swinging over food quality imports and standards, exports, the Scottish NHS, workers’ rights, in fact potentially everything. Would we even retain our Scottish laws, given that Johnson is already planning to curb the power of English courts?

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The SNP’s other top female politician, respected and admired by SNP voters, is legal brain Joanna Cherry. With the certainty that Johnson and the Tory government, plus Westminster’s Labour Party, have no intention of approving a Section 30 Order for another Indyref, she feels we must not wait until it’s too late to gain independence. It’s time for legal challenges and other moves which don’t include Boris Johnson’s permission. It’s no wonder the independence supporters’ 54 per cent seems to be divided.

And all that doesn’t include the other controversial event that is under way, the inquiry into the government’s handling of the accusations about Alex Salmond especially given his subsequent court acquittal. One more division.

It’s not unlikely that the support of independence will continue to grow. Certainly, campaigning visits from the Tory Westminster cabinet would only help.

Politicians are naturally able to face opposition, to debate, to stick to their guns and defend their own party, group, rights and power. But winning by a referendum, elections, national or even international legal cases, would have more chance of success if there was unity rather than division.

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If it’s going to happen there needs to be joint discussion and plans between Nicola, Joanna, Ian Blackford, the SNP, and other indy parties. Abandon arguments, save them for debate in an independent Scottish government, and at this critical period, work together… for the public and the country.

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