Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, has been criticised today for prioritising talk of independence over tackling the still-urgent coronavirus crisis.
The criticism came amidst news today that deaths per million from COVID are around a whopping 25% higher in Scotland than in England. It is the fourth week in a row that Scotland’s COVID death rate has been higher than England’s, according to the Andrew Marr Show.
Ms. Sturgeon devoted much of her speech to the SNP Conference on Saturday to the theme of independence, saying that she had “never been so certain” that Scotland would be independent. Politicians from across the spectrum have accused the First Minister of caring more about constitutional politics than the lives of Scots.
The SNP’s plan for a new independence referendum has been sharply criticised in recent weeks for failing to deal with reality. Focus group research last week found that voters who now leaned towards supporting independence were spooked when confronted with the reality that Scotland gets a bigger share of UK funding than it generates in taxes, and that Scottish independence could lead to a hard border between Scotland and England.
Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, has criticised the SNP in recent weeks for their failure to keep care homes safe. He tweeted: “On the day the SNP Government is questioned on its inability to keep care homes safe, we find the First Minister had been spending time planning a referendum. We need a government that’s focused on a needle sharp on recovery from this crisis.”
“Scotland is overwhelmingly seen as a beautiful, important, and integral part of Britain,” writes The Torch’s political editor. “Sources from within the unionist parties have been keen to emphasise that what they care about is protecting life in Scotland, and making sure we as a nation can build back better – as a true partnership of nations – once this pandemic is over. They fear that the SNP’s dogged obsession with independence is doing nothing but harm.”
Image credit: The Independent