Nicola Sturgeon, yesterday, at SNP conference: “Let us inspire with hope in our hearts.” It would take a heart of stone not to laugh.
This is, after all, the same Sturgeon who spent much of her speech bemoaning Westminster, the Labour party, and “aggressive unionism” for holding Scotland back – which sounds to us a lot more like finger pointing and distraction than it does Obama-esque hopey-changey positivity.
But for all of her cynicism, Sturgeon remains a clear and present threat to the union – and some in our political class in Westminster need to realise it.
Sturgeon shouldn’t have the hero status she does amongst her supporters. In the many areas where she has effectively unlimited power, she has pursued an almost uniform policy of centralisation, and along with her predecessor Alec Salmond she has overseen falls in everything from educational performance to life expectancy.
Her party has crashed from scandal to scandal – it’s not that long ago that Sturgeon herself was found to have ‘misled’ parliament over her role in an investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Salmond – and yet, somehow, she continues to lead the charge for nationalism. That should give some in SW1 pause.
Let’s be clear: the recent dysfunction in Westminster is mighty good news for Sturgeon et al.
The best argument against independence for the swing voters north of the border is a well-run Westminster government that doesn’t give Sturgeon and her cronies the chance to blame ‘London’ for failing services under their control. At the moment, the nationalist-in-chief is shooting fish in a barrel.
The union can feel remote, but it matters – not just emotionally but economically, for both sides. It is time that argument is heard more often, countering Sturgeon’s campaigning. Who could lead the union campaign? One thing is for sure: whoever it is needs to start fighting back sooner rather than later.