Nicola Sturgeon was in Scotland’s other, better capital city yesterday unveiling her party’s pledges for the General Election.
Given how many wafer-thin majorities the SNP is defending there, it made sense that the manifesto launch was held in Glasgow. Except to John Nicolson, who’s still trying to work out why they chose Aberystwyth.
The slogan was ‘Stronger for Scotland’. The top priority was independence. Scotland was still pure dead brilliant and England still being referred to as ‘Westminster’. The record is more broken than her waiting times targets but Sturgeon is running a core vote campaign and this is her core vote.
(London liberals think the SNP is what happens when disaffected socialists find a new political home. It’s actually what happens when you give ministerial portfolios to those people at American football games who wave giant foam fingers and chant ‘USA! USA! USA!’.)
Speaking before a giant saltire background, Sturgeon hawked her pledges on childcare and parental leave, and warned: ‘We must not let Brexit rob our children’s future.’ That is the Scottish Government’s job, after all.
If the Nationalists held the balance of power after December 12, she said, they would be seeking an end to austerity. Across the UK, that is; in Scotland, they’re still planning another ten years of it if we ever vote for Scexit.
‘I am asking you to vote SNP to escape Brexit,’ she said, which is a bit like taking up shark dentistry because human resources is too challenging. Leaving the EU would be so ghastly, the only answer was to back a party that wants to leave the UK.
Not only was her logic faulty, her rhetoric was histrionic: ‘Because of Johnson’s hardline position, there is every chance the UK will leave without a trade deal next year. That would be a catastrophe for jobs, and even if he somehow avoids that, his dream deal will be a nightmare for Scotland.’
Whenever my fellow Remainers claim we’ll all be living in huts, scavenging for food and feasting on insects, it doesn’t make Brexit sound apocalyptic, it makes it sound like I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here. At least with Brexit, your other half won’t keep asking you whether Michael Gove was in EastEnders or One Direction.
The SNP, Sturgeon asserted, was ‘Scotland’s Remain Party’. Any resemblance to the party that tried to take Scotland out of the EU in 2014 was purely coincidental.
Of the opposition parties, she Trumped: ‘They claim Scotland is not good enough or rich enough to be independent.’ Actually, even The Donald would admire the First Minister’s ability to demagogue with such a straight face. Like ‘too wee, too poor, too stupid’, Sturgeon’s assertion is one that has only ever been uttered by Nationalists.
Scotland was ‘already one of the richest countries in the world’ was another claim. Unless Derek Mackay’s had a lottery win he’s been keeping quiet, this sunny assertion recalled all those Leavers who swore the Germans would be begging to flog their Volkswagens to us after Brexit. Speaking of which, Sturgeon enjoined voters to ‘take power into your own hands’. Vote Leave should bring suit for copyright infringement.
In pressing the case for Scexit, she noted: ‘The Office for Budget Responsibility estimates that oil and gas revenues will be worth £8.5billion’ in the next five years. Nineties nostalgia is bad enough without attempting a revival of the greatest hits of 2014.
‘The Westminster parties have delivered not stability but constant chaos,’ she proclaimed, while insisting they were ‘looking to Scotland for inspiration’. Well, if it’s constant chaos they’re in the market for, they’re looking in the right place. Once again she touted her NHS Protection Bill. The SNP believes in protecting the NHS so much it doesn’t even let patients inside some hospitals.
The First Minister is concerned about chaos at Westminster but thinks the answer is putting Jeremy Corbyn in charge of the Army and John McDonnell in charge of the money. You do wonder if she’s trying to engineer a UK government so hypnotically hapless that hers looks halfway competent by comparison.