I have long accepted the fact that women are better at multi-tasking than men. However, even accepting this fact, one has to be impressed by Nicola Sturgeon’s ability to demand that Scottish Labour backs her call for a second independence referendum whilst simultaneously refusing to commit to one in her own party’s manifesto.
Talk of a second referendum is a change for Ms Sturgeon as over the past year she has largely been a moderate nationalist voice who sought simply to run a competent government, whilst her predecessor was left feeding titbits to the hard-core.
The reason for this is clear – the SNP must blow the independence whistle loudly to distract much of its new left-leaning support from what is happening in Scottish Labour. Under Kezia Dugdale’s leadership, Scottish Labour has at long last got its act together. The party’s confidence in promoting its core values is credible. In addition to this, it is doing a competent job of holding the SNP Government to account over its real failures in healthcare, policing and education.
Just this week Scottish Labour’s Iain Gray MSP put forward a motion calling for Holyrood to commit to additional literacy specialists in schools funded from a 50p tax rate for the very highest earners when power over income tax becomes devolved. The motion was blocked by the SNP working “hand in glove” with the Tories. Within minutes social media was awash with nationalists expressing incredulity. Labour had forced the SNP’s mask to slip.
Ms Sturgeon knows that this change in Scottish Labour, coupled with Jeremy Corbyn’s election, is showing Scots day-by-day that there is a credible progressive alternative to the regressive centrist platform cloaked in a tartan left wing veneer so loved by the SNP. The only uncertainty remaining is whether or not Ms Sturgeon can blow the independence whistle loud enough to distract from her party’s record in government.