Scots will pay the price for the SNP’s tedious crusade for independence
Strip away the measured, diplomatic legalese he deployed and the message from Lord Reed was unequivocal: there is no legal basis for the Scottish government to hold an independence referendum off their own back.
It’s what logic and the experts told us to expect – given that the constitution is a reserved matter – and a verdict, you suspect, Nicola Sturgeon and colleagues were anticipating from the Supreme Court.
The taxpayer money and civil service resources expended on this doomed venture are of no concern to the SNP, however. This legal punt was just the latest ruse in their relentless obsession with trying to break up the United Kingdom.
Theirs is a movement and a leader that governs in the narrow party interest
The fact that poll after poll showed the majority of Scots don’t want another referendum on the Scottish nationalists timetable wasn’t going to stop them. Nor will Wednesday’s ruling.
This tedious crusade will continue regardless and all the while Scotland’s economy and public services suffer.
For theirs is a movement and a leader that governs in the narrow party interest, rather than that of the country.
There’s no question that the SNP’s raison d’etre – dismantling the UK – takes precedence over any of the normal responsibilities of government. While almost every area of Scottish government spending saw savage cuts in two separate financial statements, the £20m funding for a referendum remained untouched.
Although the Supreme Court’s judgment has ruled out the prospect of a referendum next October, the SNP’s immediate reaction was to insist that the budget for constitutional matters, and for churning out taxpayer-funded papers making the case for independence, would stay.
Nicola Sturgeon’s government, meanwhile, has a dismal record of failure on the things that most Scots regard as priorities – the NHS, education, policing, transport and local government services. Although almost all the everyday areas of government are devolved, the SNP’s blinkered focus means that they come a distant second to the main aim of independence.
But it’s not just that their relentless drive for that has led to neglect of those bread-and-butter issues. It’s that, in their view, Scotland’s position in the UK is the cause of every problem, while independence is always the solution.
So, despite having been in power for 15 years, the Scottish nationalists continue to suggest that, in some mysterious and unspecified way, the blame for their own obvious failings should be directed at Westminster.
Peddling this line means that they never have to admit that the dire state of Scotland’s public services or the huge black hole in its finances are their responsibility, let alone acknowledge that the SNP’s inept record is a powerful argument against them leading Scotland into a completely un-costed and ill-thought-out future outside the UK.
The Scottish government’s papers, designed to show how easy it would be for an independent Scotland to thrive, have been universally derided as being based on nothing but flim-flam and fantasy.
Now that the Supreme Court has exposed the non-existent case for a unilateral vote on leaving the UK, the SNP has run out of road. Not just because they now have to think of some new way of continuing the push for separatism to appease their supporters, but because there is the danger that, if it ceases to be the issue that trumps everything else, attention will start to turn to the SNP’s record in government.
The SNP’s line immediately after the ruling – obviously pre-arranged, since it was trotted out by so many of them – complained about unionist “triumphalism”. It fell flat, since there hadn’t been any. Instead, the Prime Minister gave a measured response to the judgment, and immediately offered to work with both of Scotland’s governments to address the real priorities.
Unfortunately, there’s little prospect that the SNP will be diverted from their central mission. It is clear that they are not interested in fixing the many problems that Scotland faces under their watch. And I have little confidence that they will work with Westminster to improve the lives of ordinary Scots. The SNP’s only priority is division and Scots will sadly pay the price for this.
Craig Hoy, Conservative Member of the Scottish Parliament for South Scotland and chairman of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party.
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