Nicola Sturgeon has launched her much vaunted ‘listening exercise’, but to whom is she listening?
An empty vessel makes the loudest sound, so they that have the least wit are the greatest babblers -Plato
Two years ago Sturgeon was explaining to us why we needed to vote for independence. This was because the UK was incapable of reforming itself. Scotland, she said, needed to go its own way.
Fast forward to now. Brexit has happened, and the UK voted to reform itself. Scotland, she says, needs to go its own way.
The quicker witted among you will have spotted the clever ruse she and the wider SNP ranks are using. The answer is always separation, the solution to any problem separation. Facts? They won’t let mere trifles like facts leave them supine or prone on the political floor. Much better to simply peddle the easy answers to very complicated problems.
Sturgeon is launching her new campaign for independence. She is launching it because a) she’s a nationalist and b) we’re heading to Brexit, despite Scots voting 3:2 to remain in the EU.
Intuitively it might seem like she is on to a winner. Brexit could change the ball game, force instinctively unionist Scots to rethink their cultural and civic allegiances.
But the only problem with that is what the Scottish voters want and think.
Reality One: Scots don’t want independence
Brexit, far from changing the political reality, seems to have reinforced it. According to YouGov’s latest polling evidence, only 37% of Scots back a second indyref. Comparatively 50% oppose a repeat.
Should the Nats be successful in forcing a second one, the outcome would closely match the original run: 46% YES and 54% NO. So the grand sum total of Brexit’s ‘landscape altering’ impact was a swing of just under 1% from No to Yes. Hardly good omens for Surgeon et al.
As Tom Harris puts it, “The SNP aren’t launching their new campaign for independence because anyone in these islands have changed”.
Reality Two: Sturgeon is not the voice of the people
Another element the SNP argument for indyref2 is their assumption that Sturgeon is the tribune of the people. She speaks for them with as much fervour as they avidly support her First Ministership. This assumptions is the basis for their rejection of criticism of Sturgeon’s ‘September charm offensive’ as somehow unrepresentative of the peoples wishes. After all how could opposition politicians possibly represent the wishes of the people in such a matter, given Sturgeon is their favoured leader?
Evidence shows that far from Sturgeon enjoying mass public support, she is actually second most popular politician in Scotland. Put it another way, more Scottish voters think Ruth Davidson is doing a better job than Nicola Sturgeon. This aligns neatly with the political reality of a majority of Scots opposing a second indyref, and a continued majority opposing separation.
Where does this leave us?
Strange isn’t it? Independence is so obviously the answer, and Brexit was such a game changer and Sturgeon so popular that a second indyref is only natural… Except Brexit wasn’t, she isn’t and the indyref2 concept is unpopular.
Scots today don’t want a vote to break up Britain. They continue to support remaining in the UK, and Sturgeon is not their tribune.