Scotland needs independence says Sturgeon, despite falling support for 2nd referendum

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon © Russell Cheyne
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has launched a fresh bid to convince Scots to back independence from the UK, slamming the Tories as “reckless, irresponsible” and “absolutely disgraceful” for having no Brexit plan.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) leader launched what she called the “biggest ever political listening exercise” on Friday to convince voters an independence referendum is needed to protect Scotland’s place in the EU following the June 23 vote to leave the bloc.

Sturgeon told backers in Stirling that SNP activists and MPs would go door knocking and hold “town hall talks” in a bid to speak to 2 million people – more than a third of Scotland – by November 30.
She said the survey results could be used to argue for a second referendum on Scottish independence.

“Scotland will only become independent when a majority of people choose it. There are no shortcuts – we still have to make the case and win the argument.”

Her speech comes almost two years after the September 2014 referendum which saw Scots vote by 55 percent to 45 percent in favor of remaining in the UK. Sturgeon says since the Brexit vote, support for independence is higher than it was in the 2014 referendum.

Three polls conducted in the immediate wake of the Brexit vote showed a small swing to voting for independence from the UK. Two more recent polls, by YouGov, have painted a different picture, finding little or no evidence of a swing in favor of independence.

The latest, published in the Times on Friday, suggested the majority of people favored staying in the UK, with support for independence put at 47 percent and 46 percent respectively.

Sturgeon said she is “not prepared to stand by” amid a “reckless” Conservative Party betrayal, saying the Tories “accidentally” triggered Brexit without a strategy.

“Instead of a detailed negotiating plan there is just a meaningless soundbite.

“The lack of any semblance of a clue about what happens next is absolutely disgraceful. It is reckless and irresponsible.

“Tories should be deeply ashamed of themselves.”

Of Labour, she said the party had made a decision to “press the self-destruct button” and that the leadership turmoil could be “the end of the Labour Party full stop.”

“Labour is in a state of utter chaos and collapse. It’s shown itself completely unable to oppose, let alone govern.

“The leader that their MPs refuse to unite behind is almost certain to stay in the post.

“Not a single serious commentator thinks they can win a general election.

“There is now the very possibility that we are witnessing the end of Labour as a force to be reckoned with in British politics.”

Sturgeon also voiced concern for the “deep and permanent” damage she claims Scotland’s economy will suffer.

“As first minister, I’m not prepared to stand by and watch that happen without a battle.”

Sturgeon said the new conversation “will not be a rerun of 2014” and Scotland’s vote for Remain in the EU referendum would help her cause.

“While I take nothing for granted, I suspect support for independence will be even higher if it becomes clear it is the best or only way to protect our interests.”