Despite the SNP bluster the EU Election proves Nicola Sturgeon’s rhetoric isn’t working

Despite the SNP bluster the EU Election proves Nicola Sturgeon’s rhetoric isn’t working

by James Bundy
article from Tuesday 28, May, 2019

AT FIRST GLANCE, the EU election results in Scotland look great for the SNP. They managed to gain one more seat – bringing a total tally of three out of six – as well as increasing their vote share compared to the 2014 EU elections. This, however, is a too simplistic summary of how the SNP really did. When you consider the rhetoric the SNP and Nicola Sturgeon used to motivate their base to turn out to vote, they needed over 50 per cent of the vote in Scotland to go to pro-independence parties. The SNP and Green vote, however, only managed to get around 45 per cent of the total vote share. This is a disaster for the SNP, even if they do not know it yet.

Since the 2016 referendum, the rhetoric of Nicola Sturgeon is that Scotland is being dragged out of the EU against its will, and the only way to stay in the EU is to vote for Scottish Independence. This was designed to attract unionist remain voters to the independence cause. With this election focusing on Europe, this was the SNPs chance to demonstrate that these voters have moved over to the YES camp over the past three years and that independence is in sight. With pro-independence parties only achieving 45 per cent of the vote, however, it demonstrates that when it comes to the constitutional status of Scotland, nothing has changed. 

To Nicola Sturgeon’s annoyance, the Liberal Democrats enjoyed a successful night. They saw a 6.8 per cent increase in their vote thanks to their strong pro-remain message. If this 6.8 per cent gain had occurred between the SNP and Green vote, then the pro-independence vote would have been over 50 per cent. The fact that this increase went to the Liberal Democrats, however, does indicate something which will petrify Nicola Sturgeon: unionists who are passionate about remaining in the EU are switching to the Lib Dems and not to the independence cause.

Since 24th June 2016, the success of Nicola Sturgeon’s premiership has been dependent on her ability to convert unionist remainers to the independence cause. Her failure after three years will surely have people within the SNP start to question her success as leader. To make zero progress for the independence cause, the sole aim of the SNP, despite the chaos in Westminster is quite remarkable. Either 55 per cent of the electorate are staunch believers in the United Kingdom or Nicola Sturgeon is performing poorly. As a party which believes in independence, it is pretty clear which conclusion SNP members will start to make.

The success of the Brexit Party in Scotland will also be a cause of disappointment for Nicola Sturgeon. With one seat going to them, and another going to the Conservatives, one-third of Scotland’s MEPs will have been elected on pro-Brexit mandates. This destroys the SNP’s false narrative that Scotland is unanimously remain, and highlights that Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP have been ignoring over 1m Scots for the past three years. Whilst the majority of Scots did vote to remain, it is misleading for Nicola Sturgeon to claim that Scots are being dragged out of the EU against our will when over 1m Scots actually voted to leave. 

Nicola Sturgeon, for the past three years, has placed the success of her political career on the ability to convert unionist remainers to the independence cause with the rhetoric that Scots are being dragged out of the EU against our will. The results from the recent EU elections demonstrates, however, that she is failing. She has failed to convert unionist remainers as the pro-independence party vote share replicates the 2014 YES vote whilst the Lib Dems are on the rise. She has failed to demonstrate that all Scots do not want Brexit with 1/3 of Scotland’s MEPs being elected on pro-Brexit tickets. 

To save her political career, Nicola Sturgeon must now forget about IndyRef2 and focus on her day job: running the country.

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