Monday, 19 September 2016

Sturgeon on the transcendental tightrope

For the Daily Record

So, the case independence “transcends” everything else, according to Nicola Sturgeon.
That must be a bit like transcendental meditation. 

If we all hum “freedomm, freedomm” long enough we will achieve an altered state in which the deficit, the oil revenues, and the money flowing uphill from the UK will not matter.

It would be the political equivalent of yogic flying.

Easy as it is to mock the First Minister’s abandonment of the 2014 model of independence her sharp tack to fundamentalist a signals the pressures the SNP leader is coming under.

Sturgeon has to quickly put a great distance between herself and the economic flaws of the last independence case.

She has to destroy the old independence agrument and construct a new one in a hurry because Brexit presents her with a closing window of opportunity to go for another referendum.

Brexit is seen by many SNP supporters as the short-cut to independence. Alex Salmond reckons a vote will be held by 2018, others are urging caution.  You pays your money and takes your choices on what Strugeon will finally do, it depends on how hard a Brexit the UK makes.

But yesterday's tack to fundamentalism is in danger of turning her from the calm centre of the Brexit storm to the Grand old Duke of York of politics   

Sturgeon initially threatened a second indy referendum if Scotland did not keep its place in the  EU Single Market.

When polling evidence showed no surge for independence despite Scots voting overwhelmingly to stay in the EU she stepped back.

Now she has see-sawed to an indy or bust stance pleasing to the activist base.
Part of the reason is that Sturgeon is, as Willie Rennie said, “trapped” between SNP activists who want freedom at any price and her own caution. 

The political reality is that if she goes early she loses, and if she loses it is curtains for her and for independence.

The tension could make for an interesting SNP conference in Glasgow as the party has become the natural home for leftivists who otherwise might have joined Corbyn's Labour revolution.

Tommy Sheppard, the amiable Edinburgh MP, is standing against the more established Angus Robertson for the party deputy leadership.

Sheppard offers left-wingers who have swelled SNP ranks a chance to express their impatience for change.

For Sturgeon it is important that Robertson fend off the challenge. The leader does not want a thorn in her side that could disrupt party discipline and her dominance of the referendum timing. 

So the shift to transcendental independence has to be seen through the prism of what Sturgeon is attempting to do - walking a tightrope between a call for a second vote and not really wanting to do until the result is guaranteed.

She’s attempting to take the country out on that tightrope with her, and that’s harder than yogic flying.

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