Sturgeon in ‘game of bluff’ as key independence predictions forensically broken down

Indyref2: Expert discusses Nicola Sturgeon's referendum stance

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Spectator Editor Fraser Nelson dissected the SNP’s key points for independence and argued Nicola Sturgeon was in a “game of bluff” as many of her predictions have failed to materialise. He pointed out the SNP made several mentions of Prime Minister Boris Johnson during their election campaigns and positioned themselves in opposition to him despite polls suggesting the PM has had little impact on independence support. Mr Nelson also looked at Brexit and other factors the SNP were banking on and argued Ms Sturgeon had a battle on her hands to convince Scots to side with her. 

Speaking on the Spectator TV YouTube channel, Mr Nelson was asked what was next for Ms Sturgeon following the Scottish Parliamentary elections. 

He explained that while Ms Sturgeon may wish to push ahead with a referendum, it may not be the right time to do so. 

He said: “If you actually rewind and say on what basis is Nicolas sturgeon making this [referendum] point, the opinion polls show that independence, while a bit more popular last autumn, has now gone back to the kind of support that we’ve seen in the 2014 referendum.

“About 44 percent of Scots would like to leave the UK and also on Sturgeon herself, the SNP won fewer seats than it did ten years ago.”

Alex Salmond in 2011 won 69 seats in the Scottish election with Ms Sturgeon winning 64 in 2021. 

The Scottish Conservatives were able to hold many of their seats and saw their total rise from 30 to 31. 

Mr Nelson continued: “So we’ve seen the kind of decade of stagnation in SNP support and she told us that Brexit would mean that people will be all set to leave the UK.

“Well, that hasn’t happened the Brexit vote hasn’t helped the SNP vote at all.

“Boris Johnson’s supposedly hated in Scotland, doesn’t seem to have had much of a negative impact with Scottish Tories and got the same vote share as they did in last election.

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“So we’ve seen the SNP say a lot of things move it along and simply haven’t so Nicola Sturgeon is engaged in this rather ingenious game of bluff – wanting to tell England and the rest of the world that Scotland is ready to go.

“In fact, the battle she has got is not with Boris Johnson it is with the half of Scots who are by no means persuaded that what she says is making much sense.”

Polls before the Scottish election put support for independence at around 50-50 with some polls putting support slightly higher or lower by one percent. 

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Ms Sturgeon said she would not focus on a holding referendum during a health crisis which drew criticisms from her opponents. 

Scottish Conservative Leader Douglas Ross stood on a manifesto opposing independence and highlighted that the SNP campaigned on a promise that a vote for them is not a vote for independence. 

He blasted the political party after Ms Sturgeon and other senior SNP members said they had a mandate to hold a referendum. 

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