JIM SILLARS: Nicola Sturgeon failed my party for years

Nicola Sturgeon failed my party for years – FINALLY she’s been found out, says former SNP deputy leader JIM SILLARS

The opinion poll published on Monday showing support for independence no higher than 2014 had a message: the Gender Recognition Bill became a trigger moment, finally opening the people’s eyes to Sturgeon’s rule for what it was, a litany of strategic failure on every front. She was found out.

The day after the Brexit vote she took the SNP down the road of a referendum which every first year law student knew was not deliverable. It took six wasted years before the Supreme Court confirmed that truth. 

Years when no serious policy work was done on the economic case for independence. What an irony. This year, the one promised for the referendum, is the one in which she quits.

There have been domestic failures. How could a First Minister launch a ferry whose windows were painted in, and whose funnel was false, and not have asked serious questions, instead of basking in a propaganda event. 

It may be forgotten now, but the cat still has to be belled on why so many old people in care homes died of Covid-19 when it was known they were the most vulnerable. Twice running she appointed people to be health minister when everyone knew they were not up to the job. Pals first, people last.

JIM SELLARS: Nicola failed my party for years – finally she’s been found out

But along with the referendum, were two other strategic blunders – education and inviting the Greens into government. Education is seen as a domestic issue, but it is much more than that.

In a world where new power centres have risen, in India and China and other Asian nations, and winners in the competition to create wealth will rule the world economic order, the depth, width and quality of our education, will determine whether Scots prosper or fall behind. That is a strategic matter of the utmost importance. Nicola asked to be judged on education. The verdict? Failure.

Taking the Greens in has proved a disaster. Their zealotry over the trans issue has cost the SNP dearly; but their opposition to major road building and the substantial sources of oil and gas in the North Sea and west of Shetland, is economic folly.

All over the world, where oil and gas are being discovered, the nations there intend to use it as a source of capital to invest in other parts of their economy, and as a revenue stream for their public services. Even mortal enemies, Lebanon and Israel, have agreed a line in the Mediterranean so that both can exploit new finds. Scotland? In the SNP/Green coalition both oil and gas will be left in the ground untouched.

The North Sea may be a mature field, but what is still there, together with the giant field west of Shetland (40 years more of oil) is a huge potential benefit to a small nation of 5million people. No sane party could argue that it not be used.

But it would appear that the Greens have succeeded in wiring the SNP to the moon along with themselves. Hopefully, that is now history as is Nicola Sturgeon. Her legacy is the cause of independence damaged. We need a reset. Starting with an honest admission that we do not at present have the economic and social policies, the ones that answer difficult questions people ask about jobs, pensions, currency and security.

That reset cannot come from those who have clustered around Nicola Sturgeon, the zombies who seem unable to think for themselves

That reset cannot come from those who have clustered around Nicola Sturgeon, the zombies who seem unable to think for themselves.

Nor can it come unless the SNP, as a party, is much freer to criticise the leadership than has been allowed under the cult of personality. The lesson the new leader has to learn is that cult of personality is destructive to a democratic organisation, and always ends in failure and tears.

Nicola Sturgeon’s self-removal should be a golden opportunity to usher in a new era with a new, younger generation of leadership. Should is not the same as will. I say that because it is many years since the membership faced up to its responsibility.

Having in the Salmond/Sturgeon eras got used to doing what they are told, and what to think, there is a serious question about the ability of the party to get hold of a new broom and sweep out the mediocrities who have brought us to this pass, of a movement stagnating. If the new leader is drawn from the old gang around her, that will not change.

The SNP members will soon decide the fate of the independence cause. If they get it right, then our movement will enter an important recovery period, which will take time, and will need patience.

But get it right, and we shall emerge from it better equipped with policy to seek and gain a final victory for sovereignty.

Right now, I can but hope.

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