General election: If SNP push independence message hard, they may discover it backfires badly – Scotsman comment

Voters are desperate for political leaders to focus on the economy, the cost-of-living crisis and fixing public services like the NHS

In a frank interview, SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn admits his party has not had its troubles to seek of late but also points to polling that clearly gives him hope. Despite his party’s various woes, about half of people in Scotland still support independence.

This might suggest to party strategists that the way to regain their once-dominant position in the polls is to push the independence message hard. However, we suggest this would be a mistake. The real story behind the figures is that, while many people do back independence, it is not their main political priority. Instead, the state of the economy, the cost-of-living crisis and the disarray of vital public services, chief among them the NHS, are their most pressing concerns.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

These factors are central to the reasons why the Conservatives have also been haemorrhaging support (along with the abiding legacy of Boris Johnson’s lies over Partygate and Liz Truss’s disastrous stint as Prime Minister). If the SNP think they are immune to such public dissatisfaction and can hide behind the banner of independence, they may discover this tactic will backfire badly.

Both the Conservatives and SNP have been in power for a long time and the country is in a mess. This is not entirely their fault, with some powerful global shocks to the economy, but voters are desperate for change.

Many nationalists have therefore decided to switch to Labour, or at least lend their support, to achieve it. They are abandoning the SNP because they sensibly judge ‘real-life’ politics to be more important, at least for now. Trying to sell a vision of a new nation may come across as woefully out of touch with the realities of people’s everyday lives at a time when they are looking for practical help and signs of more immediate hope.

Rishi Sunak’s attempt to use immigration to shield his government from criticism is not working and an independence-heavy campaign by the nationalists would likely be about as successful. For the sake of the country, and their political careers, the Scottish Government needs to focus on the vital job it should be doing – running this country, not dreaming of another.



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.