Nicola Sturgeon 'locking Scotland in fear' says Melville
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On Wednesday Ms Sturgeon overtook Alex Salmond as the longest serving first minister to Scotland. With a referendum on Scottish Independence tipped as one of her key election policies, questions have been raised as to whether she has used this time to its potential, and whether she is delivering what she was voted in for to the Scottish people. One writer has gone so far as to compare her to Rod Stewart in this regard.
Writing for the New Statesman, Chris Deerin wrote: “The music writer Greil Marcus argued that “rarely has a singer had as full and unique a talent as Rod Stewart; rarely has anyone betrayed their talent so completely”.
“There will be those who applied a similar analysis to Nicola Sturgeon this week as she became Scotland’s longest-serving first minister.”
He said that Ms Sturgeon had a huge amount of promise when she took up her role, holding “thousands of Yes voters in the palm of her hand”, adding that she did very well during the Covid-19 pandemic, “when her particular mix of hard work, empathy and honesty were appreciated by a traumatised population.”
Mr Deerin added that “there is no Old Etonian class divide between the leader and the led in Scotland”, drawing direct comparison to Mr Johnson’s cabinet of public school elite.
However, the commentator added: “she is also utterly infuriating”.
Mr Deerin cited a “withering” education system, a “poor relationship” with the business community, and bemoaned “the purposeless nationalisation of a dormant Prestwick Airport, and now ScotRail, which within a month of being taken under government control has moved to an emergency timetable, cut 700 services a day and made travelling a risky business for commuters.”
But key is the fact that the independence vote has still not yet materialised.
Mr Deerin said: “If the overriding purpose of Sturgeon’s administration has been to secure another referendum then this also looks to have been a failure.
“If the SNP’s electoral success finally begins to wane after 15 years of pre-eminence, the chance could be lost for decades.”
However, global events have also had a significant impact on the SNP’s delay of the referendum, with their website explicitly stating it would be held off until after the COVID pandemic.
It restates the drive to hold the vote however, adding: “After the SNP decisively won the 2021 election and there is an increased pro-independence majority, there can be no moral or democratic justification for Boris Johnson or any Westminster government to obstruct the right of the people of Scotland to decide their own future.”
Meanwhile a poll by Savanta ComRes published on 18 March found that 59 percent of Scots believed discussions about the timing of a second referendum should be put on hold due to the Russian war on Ukraine, including 43 percent of SNP voters.
Fifty-two per cent felt that the cost-of-living crisis also justifies a halt.
Research by YouGov for The Times suggested that voters are no more inclined to break up the UK in 2022 than they were when Sturgeon came into office.
When “don’t knows” are excluded from the latest poll, 55 per cent continue to back the Union while 45 per cent favour Scottish independence — the same result as the 2014 referendum.
Very few thought Ms Sturgeon’s crowning achievement in office so far was furthering the cause of independence, with just 4 percent of people choosing that option.
Her handling of the pandemic was seen as her biggest achievement, backed by 38 percent of people.
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John Swinney, the deputy first minister, said Sturgeon can look back on her “landmark achievement” of becoming the longest-serving first minister with pride and that she has laid the groundwork for an independent Scotland.
“As the country’s first female leader, her tenure has helped make Scotland a better, fairer country for all who live here,” he said.
Meanwhile SNP MP Martin Docherty-Hughes restated the SNP’s desire to hold an independence referendum, saying: “In terms of the referendum, the mandate is there, the legislation is coming forward, and I don’t see in the medium term how that can be sustainable for the British Government to continue to say no to it.
“I think she is a steady ship, she has been able to ensure the people of Scotland trust not just her but her government, which was re-elected, and has now enabled her to get on with the job in hand which is delivering an independence referendum.”
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