The message from Scotland is loud and clear. First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, “detests the Tories and everything they stand for”. But the SNP don’t much like Labour either.
In a TV interview over the weekend, the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg asked the SNP leader who she would prefer to be in power at Westminster, Labour or the Conservatives. Her answer was simple: “That’s not a difficult question” adding her now memorable line about how much she detests the Tories.
In that case, should we assume she hopes that Keir Starmer will be the country’s next PM? On one level, it makes sense. The SNP and Labour are both left-of-centre parties, in broad agreement on a number of important issues. Yet despite Sturgeon’s protestations, it’s arguably Labour, not the Conservatives, that frightens her the most. For despite their ideological similarities, the prospect of a Starmer government concerns her more because Labour government is likely to take a more constructive approach to the devolved nations. This might harm the independence cause more.
Ironically, it is often said – even by SNP supporters – that Boris Johnson and his government, by its words and actions, helped strengthen the cause of Scottish independence. If elected, Starmer will take a very different tone, which may well breed less resentment in places like Scotland.
Which is perhaps why the SNP’s deputy leader decided to announce at the SNP’s conference there is also little love lost for Labour either. Indeed, deputy leader Keith Brown, described suggestions that a Labour government in Westminster would be better for Scotland as “laughable”.
What’s more, Brown added: “Labour are only ever the handmaidens of more Tory rule”. And what is also becoming clearer than ever is that the SNP is set on taking the populist high road in its zeal to whip up a frenzy for independence.
All eyes now are turned to Britain’s Supreme Court. A two-day hearing at the court in London is due to begin tomorrow. Lawyers for the Scottish government will argue that a vote should be allowed to proceed with lawyers for the UK government will argue that the proposal is constitutional, and therefore a decision rests with Westminster. with lawyers for the Scottish Government arguing that its draft legislation for a vote should be allowed to proceed.
The court’s ruling is expected by the end of the year or up to two months after the hearing takes place. Sturgeon has said she will respect the court’s decision. Interesting times ahead.