This week saw yet more signs that the Scottish nationalist movement is growing increasingly restive about Nicola Sturgeon’s faltering push for independence.
As the Daily Telegraph and others reported, Alex Bell, a former adviser to the SNP, dismissed her effort to secure a Supreme Court ruling granting her the power to hold a referendum as “theatre”, and claimed the First Minister has received legal advice to the effect that she will lose.
Meanwhile Jim Sillars, the Nationalists’ one-time deputy leader, has said that he is in “despair” at the state of the separatist movement, which he claims is not ready to fight a referendum and is unwilling to confront difficult truths about the referendum.
He singled out the Scottish Government’s woeful record on education and alleged that it is “ruining the lives of children”, according to the Herald, and denounced the ‘Yes movement’s’ unwillingness to confront the Nationalists’ various failures in government.
Another SNP fault line also reopened this week when Joanna Cherry, the ‘Salmondite’ MP and potential candidate to succeed the First Minister, alleged that Sturgeon offered her “no support whatsoever” after she received rape threats. Cherry claims other Nationalists were “afraid” to be seen defending her because of her gender-critical positions.
Of course, none of this is yet reflected in the SNP’s polling, which continues to make grim reading. But it is all a reminder that the increasingly illusory prospect of a second referendum is the thing keeping the Nationalist show on the road.
If Sturgeon takes a Supreme Court defeat, or more likely a failure to hit her apparent Plan B requirement of winning a majority of the vote at the next election, as an opportunity to bow out, these birds could all come home to roost far more quickly than one might expect.
On the hust
In last week’s Tory Leadership Election Podcast, Paul Goodman and I went through what we learned in the hustings in Perth and Belfast. Take a listen here.