As a general rule, I’m not in favour of driving politicians from office for anything less than outright criminal activity. There are several reasons for that, but the most important ones are two-fold. On one hand, politician who is forced to fight to defend his position, as Bill Clinton did during his term in office, is a politician who cannot do his job; on the other, threats of immediate removal may make it impossible for a politician to tackle any long-term project, particularly one that won’t show any short-term gains. Indeed, one of the problems pervading our current politics is a complete lack of long-term thinking.
But recent events in Scotland have convinced me that Nicola Sturgeon must go. And the sooner the better.
The SNP had its chance to make the case for independence in 2014, when we held the ‘once in a lifetime referendum.’ It failed. There were no real grounds to vote for independence and, as I noted at the time, a large number of reasons to vote against it. History has vindicated Scotland’s choice. We now know that the SNP painted a rosy picture of Scotland’s post-independence situation that was too good to be true – and it wasn’t. The SNP either didn’t know what it was talking about or it lied. Neither one is particularly reassuring.
And yet, the SNP and Sturgeon are trying to make their case for another referendum.
The situation is worse now. BREXIT is going to happen. Scotland will find itself separated from both England and the EU. It has been made clear, just as it was made clear back in 2014, that an independent Scotland would not automatically be granted a place in the EU, let alone a significant seat at the table. Britain – or England – has enough economic clout to make the EU handle it carefully. This is not true of Scotland. We would have to accept whatever terms the EU chose to offer, if we wanted to join. (And the SNP hasn’t made a convincing case that we should join.)
It seems clear to me that Sturgeon – and the SNP – are more interested in their own power and position than Scotland’s future. They want to be leaders of an independent country, not a small political party on the fringes of a much larger political entity. There does not appear to have been any serious look at a post-independence Scotland, let alone any contingency planning for the days and weeks after a successful referendum. They want independence without, in any way, being prepared for it.
Indeed, the demand for a second referendum alone has harmed Scotland. Investors do not invest in politically-unstable countries. An independent Scotland will be a less attractive place to invest for several years, at the very least. What sort of investor would invest in a country where the laws might change tomorrow? And how is the SNP going to tackle the financial shortfall that will result from independence? As I see it, they’ll have a choice between massive spending cuts – on a scale far beyond anything London has proposed – or raising taxes. But both of these options will bring major problems in their wake.
Spending cuts will cause unrest, of course. They will be staggeringly unpopular. But raising taxes will also be disastrous. Large corporations will flee Scotland; smaller companies and business will fold. And high-earning Scots will also flee. There’s an entire community of Scotsman who work in London and live in Edinburgh. All they have to do is move south to avoid paying such high taxes! Somehow, I can’t see London bothering to stop them when it means more money for England.
Nicola Sturgeon is simply unfit for office. Instead of doing what she can to improve Scotland’s position – and prove that the SNP is fit to actually govern – she is trying to grandstand on the global stage. Picking a fight with London when London is trying to negotiate the best BREXIT terms possible merely undermines Britain; taking cheap pot-shots at Donald Trump was stupid when there was a possibility, however remote, that Trump would be elected President. Sturgeon would have enough problems negotiating with Washington over Scotland’s NATO commitments without some degree of personal dislike.
Sturgeon will not suffer if independence came to pass. Even in a worst-case situation, with the economy collapsing into rubble, Sturgeon would survive. She might be voted out of office, but the book deals would keep her afloat. She would not end up being kicked out of her home because she can’t keep up with the mortgage and begging in the gutter because she cannot afford a place to stay. But hundreds of thousands of ordinary Scots will suffer. The glory of an independent Scotland will not feed and clothe them. Sturgeon is, in short, grossly irresponsible. In many ways, she is gambling with neither cards nor stake.
Nor, perhaps, will the SNP. Scotland is effectively a single-party state. The SNP has not had to fight for victory, not really. But single-party states – at best – stagnate because there is neither competition nor an influx of new blood. Will the post-independence Scottish Tories prove competition? Or will the SNP grow fat and complacent until more radical parties rise up to demand change? Will the SNP forget – as some say it already has – that the will of the people is paramount? The SNP has already shown a dangerous disregard for democracy.
What will it do if Scotland becomes independent?
It is time for some realism. And that means acknowledging that independence is not on the cards, not now. Scotland is part of the UK and will remain so for the foreseeable future. And that means dismissing Sturgeon from office before she damages Scotland’s position beyond repair.
Sturgeon must go.