While Sturgeon muddies the water, who is governing Scotland?

by Sir Thomas Crapper

Which bit of the word ‘government’ is it that Nicola Sturgeon doesn’t understand? While she picks yet another fight, Scotland appears ungoverned in any sense that we understand the word.

Independent of the United Kingdom, her country would lose the £9bn subsidy it receives from English tax-payers.

A major platform of former First Minister Alex Salmond’s failed campaign in 2014 was oil revenue. He predicted it would be £8bn post-independence. It turned out to be £64m. No, you didn’t read that wrong.

So already there’s a £17bn hole in Scotland’s finances, and it grows daily due to spending 10% more than it receives annually.

Added to that, Sturgeon knows that post-independence, Scotland would lose the right to use sterling as the national currency. In 2014, Salmond tried to finesse this by saying, well, ok then, we’ll use the euro. But then Brussels told him, hang on fella – first you have to gain membership of the EU. Which is, to put it mildly, not a given, and quite a long process.

So Sturgeon is proposing to run an independent country, with a big and growing deficit, and without a currency for possibly as much as five years. All this on the slim possibility of gaining entry to the EU and the euro zone.

But still she picks these fights, rather than govern the country that elected her to the job.

In the last referendum, more than 55% voted to stay in the UK. At the EU referendum, yes, Scotland chipped in with a majority for Remain. But more than one million voted Leave, versus 1.6m who voted Remain.

Additionally, the EU referendum attracted a turnout of 67% compared to the Independence referendum’s 85%. So there’s a strong case to be made that Scots care a lot less about whether they’re in or out of the EU. By contrast, they care deeply about being part of the UK.

So why doesn’t Sturgeon get on with governing and uniting, rather than posturing and dividing? Dividing not only the UK, but also her own people.

After Alex Salmond and his failed referendum, the Scots deserved a government that would look at and solve its own problems. Instead, Sturgeon pretends the problems don’t exist, and fights a rear-guard action in a battle already lost.

It is a sad scenario, and a mystery as to whom Nicola Sturgeon thinks she is playing to.

Sturgeon remembered as?

She might be remembered as the First Minister who failed at another ‘once in a generation’ (for which read: twice in three years) attempt to make Scotland independent of the UK.

Or she might be remembered as the First Minister who triumphantly took Scotland out of the UK, only to find she had to scrap free university education and free prescriptions, while she scrabbled about trying to find a currency her people can trade in.

Meanwhile, as the worst economy ever to apply for EU membership she would have cast her country adrift in an ocean of uncertainty. And this is before she faces opposition from countries like Spain and Belgium, who don’t want to encourage their own separatist movements by saying ‘Yes’ to Scotland.

By contrast, Sturgeon could be remembered as the First Minister who actually buckled down to governing the country and the people who elected her. She could be remembered as the First Minister who made an actual difference.

Given that she’s clearly going to fight this battle for at least another 18 months, it’s not really worth holding our breath for actual governance as we know it, Jim. By the time she’s squandered her power on this squabble, she’ll be less than two years away from the next election.

The Scottish people might have something to say about this when it comes time to vote in the 2020 General Election.

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