Nicola Sturgeon thinks everything’s a reason for Indyref2 – Alex Cole-Hamilton
I’ve heard some pretty strange reasons as to why Scotland should sever ties with the UK, but the claim from the First Minister that the appointment of a new Prime Minister should hasten our departure, just about takes the biscuit. Don’t get me wrong, I find Boris Johnson utterly repellent, but to break up a union which has endured 300 years, because you don’t like the person in charge is a ridiculous proposition. Furthermore, it harms any more coherent arguments for separation the SNP may think they have.
In the lifespan of nations the term of office held by their leaders is mayfly short. Just ask Theresa May, or Gordon Brown for that matter. There is a reassurance, even a comfort in taking that long view, for those of us who greet the ascent of Boris Johnson to No 10 with a certain kind of horror.
He will never represent me. He will never share my views on immigration, or on gay rights or on Europe, but the great thing about our democracy is that in a couple of years’ time there’s always the opportunity for the people of these islands to show him the door. With regular elections and shifting attitudes, the villains and heroes of our nation’s story will always be temporary. So it’s important not to give in to the impulse to do something rash in response to the anguish you feel when you don’t like the government of the day. Get angry and get active, by all means, but this is no reason for us Scots to up sticks and leave the UK forever. To be fair it was inevitable that the SNP and Nicola Sturgeon in particular would greet the Johnson premiership as a catalyst for another swashbuckling tilt at independence. I don’t agree with that, but I understand it. This is her opus, her life’s work, and she looks at every development in UK politics through that lens. But even for her this is a stretch. It would be like a group of California Democrats starting a campaign to have their state secede from the United States because they can’t wait a year to get rid of Trump.
I knock on a lot of doors in the city and I don’t get any sense that her argument is gaining traction, either. If anything there’s a slightly frosty theme developing on the doors along the lines of “everything’s a reason for her to call another referendum”.
Despite what she says, Nicola doesn’t currently have a mandate for Indyref2. The majority of Scots voted (narrowly) in 2016 for parties who do not support independence, only the vagaries of the list system give them a majority of seats when coupled with the Greens. Consider that against the backdrop of the declining SNP vote shares at every electoral test since 2015 and you get the feeling the SNP may be running out of road.
If they are ever to attain their goal of separation, then the SNP and their Green party sidekicks need to win over the ten per cent of those people in the country who represent the persuadable middle ground in the independence debate. This “Boris bogey-man strategy” is just another stone for the First Minister to turn over, to see if it’ll catch. It isn’t working.
Knee-jerk responses to short term political events can have massive ramifications and the public know that.
Alex Cole-Hamilton is the Lib Dem MSP for Edinburgh Western.