Europe

Sturgeon misstep: Indyref2 alliance with Scottish Greens ‘may be too much for SNP’

Nicola Sturgeon 'needs to press pause button' says Nelson

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On Tuesday the police launched a formal probe into the SNP’s funding after seven separate complaints were made to them about donations to the party, the first of which was reported by a pro-independence activist in March. Since 2017, the SNP had raised more than £660,000 via fundraising websites to be used “for the specific purpose of a referendum campaign”, yet in its most recent accounts, the SNP had just £96,000 of the money left at the end of 2019. Moreover in May, MP Douglas Chapman quit as the party’s treasurer after claiming he had not been given the information needed to effectively do his job, a resignation that came after three members of the SNP’s Finance and Audit committee also stood down, after allegedly being denied access to the accounts.

Days later, Chapman’s MP colleague, Joanna Cherry, also quit the governing National Executive Committee, after having been prevented from improving the party’s “transparency” and “scrutiny”.

Scottish First Minister Ms Sturgeon is desperate for a second referendum on Scottish independence before 2023 and in May even opened formal talks with the Scottish Greens on a cooperation deal in government, in hope of landing a pro-independence majority at Holyrood.

In a deal likely to fall short of a full coalition, the Scottish National party and Scottish Greens may jointly write policies on the climate crisis and in return the Greens would back Ms Sturgeon’s spending plans and vote in favour of Indyref2.

However, there are significant political differences between the parties and Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove even argued they are “anti-jobs” and “anti-Aberdeen”.

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The Telegraph’s Scottish editor Alan Cochrane wrote: “Endorsing the possibility of some kind of alliance with the Scottish Greens may well be too much for most Nats.

“It certainly should be. As Michael Gove, the Cabinet minister for just about everything, claimed on Monday, the Greens were opposed to just about everything that might benefit Scotland.

“He said they were opposed to the further development of North Sea oil fields and, as Scotland needed a mix of available energy sources, thus, effectively opposed to economic growth.

“He said they were anti-jobs, not good for Aberdeen (his home town and from where he was speaking on Monday) and not good for Scotland.

Maybe so, but Nicola Sturgeon’s current thinking is that, because they support independence, they’re good for the SNP.

“And in her book, that’s all that matters.”

Mr Cochrane also referenced an opinion poll showing support for Scottish independence has slipped in recent months.

The poll, carried out for the Sunday Times, put support for independence at 48% once ‘don’t knows’ were excluded, down four points since April, whilst backing for the Union stood at 52%.

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The poll also shows that only 35% believe indyref2 should be held within the next two to five years.

Mr Cochrane said: “In truth it is pretty difficult to work out precisely how they plan to persuade us of the merits of an independent Scotland, presumably run by this SNP government or at least something looking very much like it.

“After all, there’s not a great deal for them to boast about – indeed, there’s nothing, really.”

“Their muck up of education – the very policy that Nicola Sturgeon said she wanted to be judged upon – is a blatant example of how she promises much but generally fails to deliver.

“How she wasn’t deservedly punished by the electorate for this failure is beyond this observer – although it must have helped that she didn’t come clean about her errors, sack the minister in charge and instigate a root and branch reform of the two education quangos until after that May 6 election.”

Ms Sturgeon had made improving Scottish education the “defining mission” of her government — and told voters the issue she wanted to be judged on was narrowing the attainment gap between richer and poorer pupils, yet independent watchdog Audit Scotland concluded in March: “The poverty-related attainment gap remains wide.

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