There can be few political parties in the world which abandon their pre-election promises as swiftly as the SNP.
In the final TV debate of the recent election campaign, just two days before Scots went to the polls, Nicola Sturgeon was asked what people should do if they don’t want independence?
“They should vote for me, safe in the knowledge that getting us through this crisis is my priority,” the SNP leader replied.
But, as sure as the sun rises in the morning, as soon as the votes were in she tried to rewrite history.
The First Minister, delivering a speech to the nation which should have been about bringing divided communities together, instead claimed a divisive referendum was now ‘the will of the country’.
Sadly, we’ve been here before.
In the TV debates leading up to the 2016 election, Ms Sturgeon said there would only be a referendum if there was ‘clear and sustained evidence that independence has become the preference of a majority of people in Scotland’.
Even despite Brexit, that hasn’t been the case.
In fact, the most recent opinion poll – conducted by Survation on the eve of the election for Scotland in Union – found that 58% of people in Scotland would vote to remain part of the UK, if asked the question ‘Should Scotland remain part of the United Kingdom or leave the United Kingdom?’
Perhaps what is most interesting in the poll, however, is the truth about why people vote the way they do.
Spoiler alert: unlike Nicola Sturgeon, not everyone has independence on their mind when they walk into a polling booth.
The poll asked respondents to think about the Scottish Parliament elections on 6th May, and choose the reasons which were most important when deciding which party or parties to vote for.
The most popular reason people gave was the party’s policy on the NHS (37%), followed by policies on jobs and economy (35%).
And, crucially, among those who said they were voting SNP, only 40% (in both the constituency and regional list) said the most important reason for their decision was the party’s stance on independence.
So when Nicola Sturgeon falsely claims another referendum is ‘the will of the country’, it wasn’t even the top reason why her own voters backed the SNP in this election.
The undeniable truth is that people vote for different parties for a variety of reasons.
Nicola Sturgeon knows this, which is why she said what she did in the final TV debate - and has now desperately changed the script.
As for the priorities facing the new government, only 1-in-8 people in Scotland believe independence is one of the most important issues.
Asked to select up to three of the most important issues the government should prioritise, 50% chose NHS and social care, 46% economy and jobs, 45% Covid-19 recovery, 30% education – and only 12% independence.
In the election aftermath, Ms Sturgeon claimed that those who oppose a referendum are ‘picking a fight with the democratic wishes of the Scottish people’.
The reality is that only her party is trying to start a fight.
The people of Scotland are clear – we don’t want another independence referendum any time soon; and we want our government to focus on what really matters.
Scotland says recovery, not referendum.
Sign the petition against another referendum here.