IN hindsight, it was only a matter of time before Nicola Sturgeon turned in her notice at Bute House.
Already Scotland’s longest-serving First Minister, Sturgeon’s relative popularity had endured longer than many into such a lengthy tenure.
Nonetheless, her political capital had dwindled in recent months – not least due to setbacks around her party’s raison d’etre – pursuing Scottish independence.
Had Sturgeon had her way, Scots would have been heading to the polls for a second referendum on secession from UK in October this year. The SNP had likely counted on disillusionment over Scotland’s exit from the EU as a wedge to persuade floating voters to take the leap.
But the UK’s Supreme Court ruled in autumn that the devolved Scottish administration did not have the power to hold such a vote without the permission of Westminster.
Given that Tory PM after Tory PM has categorically ruled this out, it seems unlikely a referendum will be coming in the foreseeable future.
Vague attempts to colour the next general election as a de facto referendum was met with muted reception.
With this is mind, it is understandable that Sturgeon would leave office. The very political project the SNP exists to promote has been placed out of reach.
Given the realistic likelihood of Scottish independence at this stage, it would be nothing short of a folly for other left leaning parties in the UK to be seen to entertain the prospect.
The spectre of the SNP loomed large over Labour in the 2015 and 2019 general elections. In both polls, it was widely seen as unlikely Labour would be able to form a government without confidence and supply with the Scottish nationalists.
This, in turn, led to swing voters in England being wary of Labour and resting their support with the more vocally pro-union Conservatives.
At some point in the future, a conversation about Scottish independence may happen. Different generation have different struggles. But given the dwindling momentum behind the independence movement right now, it would be folly for Labour entertain the prospect openly at risk of alienating unionist support.
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