The Guardian’s take on the SNP: delivering public services, not just a referendum | Editorial

SSince 2007, the Scottish National Party has been Holyrood’s largest party, dominating politics to become a credible party of government. He has just started his fourth term in power. Yet the SNP had few major policy achievements and nothing comparable to the flagship policies on tuition fees or elderly care associated with the previous Labor administration. The SNP has made big promises. Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the party, says she wants to have a national care service in place in Scotland by 2026 as “proper legacy of covid trauma”.

Yet it is debatable whether such a plan, the cost of which experts say the SNP has underestimated, could be passed alongside the pursuit of an independence referendum as support for Britain’s departure United decreases. The constitutional question energizes the militant base of the SNP. That’s why Ms Sturgeon told delegates at her party’s conference that she wants a second referendum on Scottish independence by 2023. Downing Street’s rejection of another poll signals a stalemate exhausting in the years to come.

How Boris Johnson’s government is perceived will be important in determining whether Scottish opinion turns to independence. No doubt Ms Sturgeon will want to contrast her exceptional communication skills and capacity for hard work with the Prime Minister’s more disheveled and chaotic approach. The SNP has cleverly gained political advantage by framing its political agenda through the prism of the union. In his view, Downing Street is leading Scotland to an unpleasant social and economic destination. With Mr Johnson at the helm, it is perhaps an easier case to make, reassuring nationalists that the constitution remains at the center of political debate.

What the SNP fears is that after 14 years in government the public will decide that the party’s rhetoric does not match reality. Last month, the SNP’s claim that its climate change legislation was “world leading” was refuted by environmental campaigner Greta Thunberg. Over the summer, three Scots a day were revealed to be dying from drug abuse. People in the most deprived areas of Scotland were 18 times more likely to have a drug-related death than those in the least deprived areas. Scotland’s drugs death crisis has become the worst in the developed world, in part because Ms Sturgeon admits her government has “lost its eyes”.

Historically, Scotland has had low economic growth rates, abysmal health records and social problems rooted in high levels of inequality. Despite a plan to improve public services published a decade ago, Scotland’s impartial Auditor General said last week that key policies had fallen short. The penny fell within the SNP leadership, not least because his performance deterred skeptical voters from backing independence. Ian Blackford, the party leader at Westminster, urged the SNP to roll up their socks.

The Scottish government is a coalition between the Greens and the SNP. Nationalists used to speak of ‘six unions’ that governed Scottish life: Westminster, the EU, NATO, the monarchy, the pound sterling and one with the peoples of the United Kingdom. As a party, the SNP said it only wanted to end a union with England which it said had frustrated Scotland’s hopes. Brexit kicked Scotland out of Europe against the wishes of the SNP. James Mitchell of the University of Edinburgh says political disagreements – over North Sea oil, land ownership and NATO membership – can be contained within government, but not for a while. referendum campaign. Questions about currency and the Queen’s role in a future independent Scotland remain relevant. While these issues are important to many Scottish voters, they are probably not as pressing for an electorate concerned with making their nation fairer and better governed.