The idea that Nicola Sturgeon wants to help the Tories is bonkers.
Everyone reading this will no doubt be aware about the bombshell Nicola Sturgeon dropped in the tv debate last night.
She suggested that Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale told her in a private phone call she might support an independence referendum. You could criticise Sturgeon for this revelation. If it is true you could argue Sturgeon was wrong to reveal the details of a private conversation. If the conversation didn’t happen in the way Sturgeon revealed you could say Sturgeon has made a very serious error indeed.
We will only be able to judge the morality of the revelation if and when we know the full details.
Since the debate I have heard many union supporting commentators suggest that Sturgeon mentioned Dugdale’s conversation in order to help the Tories. The story goes that the longer the Tories are in charge the more likely independence is so Sturgeon gains from having a Tory government.
Here is Alex Massie making that very point.
Problem is this is absolute gibberish and doesn’t work on several levels.
- The first is that by hurting Dugdale, Sturgeon is actually reducing the chances of the Tories winning seats. We mentioned this at the weekend but there has been a noticeable rise in support for Labour coming from 2015 SNP voters who are attracted by the message of Corbyn. Yet in most seats Labour are not a threat to the SNP. If you look at the polls it is the Conservatives who are predicted to gain seats from SNP loses. Labour will be lucky to win one seat. Therefore, a vote for Labour in areas where it is a two horse race between the SNP and the Tories is inadvertently helping the Tories.
- Tory austerity is also hurting Sturgeon. There have been thousands of bad news stories about a badly performing Scottish NHS and education system in recent months. Although I don’t want to completely absolve Sturgeon from blame for this, her job would be a lot easier if it were not for Tory austerity. Therefore, Sturgeon’s position as First Minister is arguably put in jeopardy by Tory policy.
- Also, there has been a Tory Government for most of the last 40 years. In the eighties under Thatcher things were more brutal than they are now. Scotland was decimated. At that time support for independence was a fragment of what it currently is. What has really increased support for independence is devolution. The Scottish parliament has given Scottish politics a strong brand that is different from the rest of the UK. It has given the SNP a platform to shine. It has given more of the population confidence we could do it on our own.
- If you accept this point about devolution, you can understand my first point better. Sturgeon skewered Dugdale because voting Scottish Labour makes the result Sturgeon wants less likely. What Strugeon wants is a Corbyn minority government dependent on the SNP for support. Then Sturgeon can have a real say in the UK system. She would have a hope of making sure the powers returning from Brussels go to Scotland. She would have a hand in constitutional reform moving us closer to a federal UK system and full fiscal autonomy. Sturgeon knows that gradualism is much more likely to result in full independence than a cointoss referendum based on the Tories being nasty.
This is the last blog pre-election as I’ll be away doing a charity thing for a few days.
Happy voting and, if you are a progressive then think careful before voting Labour. Check out this blog for detailed reasoning but essentially in some seats a vote for Labour will actually make it harder for Corbyn to be elected. Sad, but that is the nature of First Past the Post I’m afraid. Also, there is a bit more about tactical voting to keep the Tories out here.
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