Hammer blow for Sturgeon as former SNP spokesman slams Scots independence as stone dead

SNP’s Ian Blackford: ‘We will look after our pensioners’

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Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wants to hold a second Scottish independence referendum before the end of 2023, and has expressed hope the country will rejoin the European Union following a split from the UK. Brexit has been a major driver in this, with Scotland voting against a split from the EU in 2016 and the SNP insisting it has happened “against the will” of the Scottish people. The SNP and Scottish Greens are drawing up and publishing a joint Government prospectus on independence that will be put to Scots next year before a possible referendum.

But Ms Sturgeon’s independence plans have been torn apart by former SNP defence spokesman Stuart Crawford, who claimed the Nationalists are failing in their quest to break up the UK.

Writing for the Scottish Daily Express, Mr Crawford pointed to recent independence polls, which he said are “stubbornly stuck on average around 48 percent for independence and 52 percent against.

The former spokesman warned until there is clear daylight between the “Yes” and “No” votes in the polls, “there is no chance of a second independence referendum being up for discussion”.

Mr Crawford warned: “Plans and demands for a second referendum are stymied because there is no route currently available to obtain one.

“Despite First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s serial promises that the next one is just around the corner, she cannot hold a legally and constitutionally binding one without a Section 30 order from Westminster, and with the Conservative and Unionist party holding an 80 seat majority there is no reason for one to be granted.

“The oft-mooted alternatives of a “consultatory” referendum or indeed UDI are just non-starters.

“The former would most likely be boycotted by unionists and therefore be meaningless, whilst the latter would bring widespread condemnation, sanctions, and eventually ruin.”

He added: “So it has come to pass, in the fullness of time, that George Robertson’s oft-quoted declaration that “devolution will kill nationalism stone dead” was entirely accurate, although perhaps not in the way he may have imagined at the time.”

The former spokesman claimed the Nationalists and particularly the SNP have simply failed to make an “intellectually coherent argument” for independence.

Mr Crawford pointed to comments from the SNP around state pensions, which saw Ian Blackford warn the UK Government would have to pay for following independence – forcing Ms Sturgeon into an embarrassing climbdown on the matter.

He also described the SNP’s performance in the Scottish Government as being “appallingly poor” – something that will certainty not help convince Scots to vote in favour of independence.

The ex-defence spokesman said raged: “Everywhere you look there is disaster.

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“Education standards have spiralled rapidly downwards, the NHS struggles despite its grossly bloated and overpaid management structure, and drug deaths are the highest in all of Europe.

“Its economic initiatives have been abject failures without exception – think Ferguson Marine and the ferries fiasco, Prestwick Airport, Bi-Fab and on and on. The list is endless.”

He concluded: “Against that sort of dismal background it’s hardly surprising that the Scottish independence movement has stuttered to a halt.

“It lacks the intellectual rigour, and indeed the intellectuals, to address the problems and guide the way forward.

“It is a truism that those who are most vociferous in their support for independence are those who have the least to lose, as a glance at the participants at any independence rally will confirm.

“Middle Scotland, however you might want to define it, is not convinced.”

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