The UK Conservative Party has been doing its best to prevent a future Scottish independence referendum. The Scottish National Party (SNP), as the main advocate of independence, needs to unite the Scots. As a national leader, Nicola Sturgeon plays a key role in uniting Scottish society.
The Scottish National Party (SNP) pushed for an independence referendum in 2014 after its landslide victory in the 2011 Scottish parliamentary elections. At that time, the outcome was not in favour of independence and only 45% of voters said Yes in the referendum, while 55% said No. Due to the gradual increase in nationalistic feelings and activities, Scottish identity has gained momentum and Scottish independence has been introduced as the path to prosperity for the Scottish people.
The 2016 Brexit referendum was a game changer for Scottish independence, because the majority of Scottish voters said No to Brexit and yet, as the SNP puts it, they were taken out of the EU against their will. Although the whole of the UK voted to leave the EU in the Brexit referendum, the SNP has insisted that it should protect the Scottish people’s votes and remain in the European Union. Nicola Sturgeon believes that in half a century of membership in the EU, they benefited from the single market, human dignity values, democracy and freedom of movement, etc.
Conservative Leader Claims Union Is Stronger
Following the Brexit referendum, the nationalist SNP has decided to hold another independence referendum again. They have insisted on being part of the EU, but the idea of another independence referendum has been strongly opposed by the UK government and the SNP leader has warned that they will take the case to court if London tries to stop it.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ruled out a second independence referendum in Scotland, saying that the 2014 vote was decisive and a once in a generation event. In an interview, Johnson boasted about the union and its fantastic power and opportunities. The Conservative Party’s leader claimed that the union can deal with issues stronger together and that everyone in every corner of the UK is supported well within the union.
Conservatives Try to Reduce Yes Votes for Scottish Independence
The UK Conservative Party has done its best to thwart an independence referendum, and in addition to the rhetoric opposing it, some senior Conservatives have decided to suggest voting facilities for Scots living outside Scotland, but within the United Kingdom, to participate in a possible Scottish referendum. These Conservative officials are hopeful that it would be very difficult for the Scottish nationalists to achieve a Yes result in an independence referendum, because Scots outside Scotland would most probably vote No.
First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon has warned that the idea of giving a vote to people born in Scotland, but living in other parts of the UK, is an effort by the Conservative Party to rig the referendum. Also, senior Conservatives have been trying to ease the appointment of Ruth Davidson as a constitutional secretary. Ruth Davidson was a former Scottish Conservative leader and her new role would make Davidson the head of the pro-union campaign against the independence campaign.
Scottish Conservatives Tried to Decrease SNP Votes
Some Conservative Cabinet ministers have told The Times that they know Nicola Sturgeon would start to push for another independence referendum once it is politically acceptable again, so they must take measures to be ready for her. One such measure is making it eligible for all Scots across the whole of UK to vote in a future referendum, and the other measure is bringing pro-union Davidson back to the front line to help prevent independence.
In most 2020 polls, the Yes vote was ahead of No for Scottish independence, but different results began to emerge in 2021, which may be the outcome of Conservative anti-independence efforts. The Scottish Conservatives have joined their peers in London to stop the SNP from holding another independence referendum. Prior to the May parliamentary elections, the Scottish Conservatives had asked people to vote for them to stop an SNP majority in the Scottish Parliament. The Conservative Party in Scotland said it had ambitious plans to take the country forward and asked people not to vote for independence by choosing the Conservatives.
The Holyrood Elections in May Was a Vote for Independence
Despite the UK government’s measures to block the Scottish independence referendum, Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said: “The UK government would not stand in the way of another vote on Scottish independence if it is the settled will of voters.” He told The Sunday Times that the people of Scotland have the right to be asked about leaving the UK, but it is not the right time for that question and the public does not think it is proper at the moment. He did not make it clear what the settled will of Scots meant in the UK government’s opinion. According to Ian Blackford, SNP leader in Westminster, the elections in May proved the settled will of the Scottish people because they elected a majority of independence-supporting MSPs to the Scottish Parliament. He emphasised that the prime minister should not continue ignoring the Scottish people’s mandates and agree with a second independence referendum.
UK Conservatives Try Hard to Postpone Referendum
Moreover, the governing Conservative Party has been using a strategy to counter growing support for Scottish independence. A document from a political consultancy firm proves that the party looks at strategies to delay another Scottish referendum, and then avoid it.
A group of Conservatives came together to work on the issue. It is also possible that London may hand more power to Edinburgh and insist that the EU abandons the idea of an independent Scotland returning to the bloc. Additionally, Conservative ministers have allocated more money to problems in Scotland, including infrastructure projects and the NHS. Tommy Sheppard, the SNP spokesperson, has challenged the Conservative Party and said that the UK government hides its publicly-funded polling for the union. Previously, there were reports about polling had been undertaken by the UK government in Scotland designed to gauge public approaches about governing the country, but there was no clarification until now.
SNP: Unity Party
Recently, Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Greens signed a power-sharing agreement which is described as groundbreaking. With this agreement, a pro-independence majority in Holyrood was gained and further unification is expected among the Scots for a new independence referendum.
After the 2021 parliamentary elections in Scotland, the SNP won the most constituency seats in Holyrood, securing the highest number of constituency votes in the history of Scotland. Both the SNP and Scottish Greens as the two main pro-independence parties in Scottish Parliament have secured 72 seats, the largest ever pro-independence majority. Now, the SNP with the assistance of the Greens can unite all Scottish political parties under a shared flag. Moreover, the SNP leader is a popular one in both Scotland and Britain and an early 2021 poll shows that Nicola Sturgeon is the most popular leader across the UK, which can be used to diminish differences in Scotland for achieving independence.
The UK Conservative Party has been against another Scottish independence referendum. The prime minister emphasised that the 2014 independence referendum was decisive and a once in a generation event, and that the union can deal with issues stronger together. But following Brexit, the SNP announced that the Scottish nationalists want another independence referendum. The SNP believes that in half a century of membership in the EU, the country benefited overwhelmingly and chooses to remain in the bloc. But the Conservatives use different tactics to avoid another referendum, or to reduce the Yes votes. However, the SNP and Scottish Greens recently signed a power-sharing agreement to become a pro-independence majority in the Scottish Parliament. From now on, the SNP has more power and support to insist on the will of nationalists and set aside differences to unite the country.