Edwina Currie questions the goals of Scottish independence
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Pamela Nash, Labour MP for Airdrie and Shotts from 2010 to 2015, said support for independence has fallen as UK-wide schemes are bringing benefits to Scotland. Speaking to Express.co.uk, Nash said: “Every day we are seeing examples of how we are stronger together, including our successful vaccination programme working for everyone in the country and UK-wide schemes that ensure people’s jobs are protected.”
Her comments come as opinion polls in Scotland suggest a noticeable swing towards the remaining in the Union in recent months.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Scottish support for repealing the Act of Union of 1707 seemed to have reached new post-Brexit heights.
However, support for Nicola Sturgeon’s pro-independence brigade has dipped leaving them with leads in only two out of the last 20 opinion polls conducted north of the border.
Ms Nash, the Chief Executive of the pro-UK cross-party pressure group Scotland in Union, suggested instability induced by Brexit and COVID-19 had temporarily tipped the debate towards the separatist side.
“At moments of strain or turmoil, it is not unusual to see temporary increases in support for whatever ‘change’ is on the table,” she said.
But now, with UK-wide schemes highlighting the benefits of the 314-year-old Union, public mood has reverted back to the ‘No’ side.
The ex-Labour MP, who was pipped as the party’s candidate in the recent Airdrie and Shotts by-election by Kenneth Stevenson, also said the realities of independence have helped turn the tide in favour of Unionists.
Nash explained how scrapping sterling, financial uncertainty, cuts to public spending and a hard border with England can help explain “why more and more people are backing Scotland’s positive future in the UK”.
Opinion polls conducted in the pandemic that include questions about intricate details of a divorce deal, such as whether Scotland could keep the pound, indicate Scots may be even less inclined to back a break from Westminster.
Earlier this month, a Redfield and Wilton Strategies survey found almost two in five respondents were less likely to support independence if the pound was replaced with the euro.
Despite this, Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party remains hell-bent on pushing ahead for a second independence referendum.
Nash has vowed she and Scotland in Union’s 36,000-supporters will offer a stern defence against the threat posed by the SNP to the Union.
She said: “As much as we would like the SNP to focus on what really matters to people, it’s clear that the nationalists are determined to re-open old divisions.
“It’s incumbent on those of us who believe in cooperation and solidarity to highlight the contrast between our positive vision for a strong and united country and the SNP’s negative and divisive ideology.
“We must also continue to demand honesty from the SNP over the impact of independence, including scrapping the pound, building a border with England, and imposing deeper austerity.
“Scotland in Union has tens of thousands of supporters who help spread our positive message, and anyone who wants to help can be part of our campaign.”
When asked what more the Labour Party could do in the independence debate, Nash stressed Sir Keir Starmer’s pro-Union party “is best placed to make clear the progressive vision for the UK where no community is left behind”.
The Chief Executive of Scotland in Union offered far less advice to Boris Johnson’s Government in Westminster.
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Instead, Nash said: “The number one task the UK Government must do is simple: govern well; make the UK work for all of its citizens; and ensure the people of Scotland therefore want to remain part of a UK that works and has a strong future.
“The majority of people in Scotland don’t want another referendum any time soon, and the SNP should take the threat off the table.”
However, Ms Nash did say in a hypothetical second referendum campaign the Unionist camp would need to move away from the so-called Project Fear tactics deployed by former Tory Prime Minister David Cameron.
The Unionist campaigner claimed: “I think we would see more focus on the emotional arguments – the bonds of family and friendship that unite us all across the United Kingdom – rather than the economic arguments, given the SNP’s economic case is in ruins anyway.”
In 2014, when Scots were asked in their once-in-a-generation poll if they wanted to leave the United Kingdom, voters north of the border opted by 55 to 45 percent to stay in the Union with England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
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