SNP must give a clear message on Europe - Helen Martin

Football fans are so dedicated to the clubs and teams they support. For most it’s a loyalty and commitment that lasts for life, and it certainly doesn’t depend on winning, losing, changing club owners, financial disasters, or relegation from a league.

Monday, 26th April 2021, 7:00 am
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon appears on the Andrew Marr Show from her home yesterday (Picture: Getty

So many were taken to matches by their dads, learned to follow and adore the same team, and now take their children and grandchildren. Even moving to live in a different location doesn’t lead them to change their original, favourite team. Fans may change their wives or husbands but they never divorce their football club.

Much the same can be said for politicians. There may be a few deserters, but for most, regardless of their parties’ successes or failures, their loyalty and membership remains fixed for ever. I often wonder if they don’t really understand that the majority of voters frequently change their minds, and politicians often don’t concentrate on what’s considered to be the public’s biggest concerns.

Right now, as we approach May's election, it seems the major issue for almost every party is Independence, with Tories, Labour and Lib Dems fighting as fiercely as possible against that and the SNP. The SNP are equally prioritising Independence. But both sides seem to be glossing over the elephant in the room – Brexit.

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The Unionist parties (especially the Conservatives) cannot condemn Brexit. But they should at least be trying to persuade everyone that there are some positives, some hopes, some genuine advantages of leaving the EU, forming wonderful trade agreements and maintaining the UK, in order to increase their votes. (I doubt there are any advantages but it is the crucial core of this election. And it’s rather shameful they don’t even mention Westminster’s “independence disaster”.)

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When it comes to the SNP (which I admit I vote for), I would be impressed, more confident, and probably happy to bet on more supporting voters if there was a large part of the manifesto that covered whatever information there was on us rejoining the EU, or at least honesty as to how determined our government would be to achieve that.

Nicola did discuss Brexit with Andrew Marr yesterday, though it hasn’t been a major topic in campaigning, and for many members of the Scottish public, that is the main drive for Independence.

It’s obvious and easy to explain why. Our exports and imports could be revived, whether that’s whisky and fishing or farming and industry. Several large companies who have had to move their headquarters from the UK to the EU would be able to relocate in Scotland. Younger voters certainly want to have freedom of movement and European university access. Many people of all ages from graphic designers to architects and thousands of other careerists, would want the option of applying for jobs in the EU to be restored. And for many it’s tragic that the previous ability for many to work and live in Europe for a few years is now out.

In the past, the goal for SNP voters was just independence from the UK – but we were all in the EU. Now, if the SNP really wants to win, opting out of Brexit and (as some EU officials and politicians have declared) being welcomed back to the European Union, is what should be an urgent priority and emphasis.

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