top of page

Pete vs Mhairi - who will Nicola back?

Before heading off to China for a trade trip, Nicola Sturgeon warned she would be unable to keep in touch with her Twitter followers while she was away.

The social media site is blocked in China and this may have been one of the issues she raised in her difficult conversation about human rights with her hosts.

Though, given the political storm she left behind in Scotland, the First Minister may be relieved to have escaped the political debate online.

The first leaks from the long-awaited Growth Commission appeared in the press, hinting at a very sober and sensible approach to the challenges of independence and a mile away from the radical intent of many independistas.

The Nordic model of high taxes and generous welfare seems to have been junked for New Zealand, an economic model not too dissimilar to the UK's.

It highlighted the divide in the nationalist movement on tactics and vision, embodied by two well-known MPs.

In the cautious corner, the experienced Pete Wishart dropped his usual provocative tone to warn against undue haste in re-opening Scotland's constitutional debate. He suggested they still had some way to go to convince Scotland of the case for independence and couldn't afford to lose a second time. He even suggested in letting their current (and very debatable) mandate pass.

This heresy was greeted with derision by the nationalist online community, forcing Wishart to call out his party's 'cybernats'. The irony was not lost on those who have followed Wishart's own online intemperance over the years.

His position was at odds with Mhairi Black, darling of the radicals, who admitted she told people just to ignore the White Paper in 2014 and described it as a Diet Coke version of the union. No-one can recall her being so open at the time.

The tension between the radicals and the 'steady-as-she-goes' types leaves Nicola Sturgeon with a problem on her return. The Growth Commission, when it finally appears after endless delays, is unlikely to please everyone.

Her predecessor Alex Salmond was adept at transcending the divide in the independence movement. With this explosive report sitting on her desk, a tempestuous party conference slated for June, unhelpful oil revenue figures to come in the shape of GERS in August and then a make-or-break decision on indyref2 looming in the autumn, she will need to be at her sure-footed best to keep her coalition together going forward.

And when she deals with SNP’s internal problems, she might find time to get round to Scotland's.


bottom of page