SNP plays longer game in bid for Scottish independence

Support for Scottish independence needs to be higher and more consistent to force another referendum, the new SNP leadership believes. In a rethink of strategy, Scotland’s First Minister and new SNP leader Humza Yousaf wants to focus on making the case for independence because he knows pushing for a vote immediately will be rejected.

Mr Yousaf told the BBC this week that he wants a “consistent majority for independence. Senior figures familiar with his thinking say there has been a shift in position since Nicola Sturgeon stood down – with Mr Yousaf wanting to prove independence is the settled will of Scottish voters. They acknowledge Mr Yousaf has introduced an extra step in the process of forcing another referendum.

Ms Sturgeon had wanted to use the next general election in Scotland as a de facto referendum.

Mr Yousaf does not favour that policy but has said he will listen to SNP members about the next steps. In opinion polls, support for Scottish independence consistently sits in the mid to high forties. But senior figures acknowledge they have not yet moved the dial to show sustained support as a majority.

Sir John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, told the BBC: “The realisation has dawned on them that while support for independence has tended to be higher than it was in 2014, it tends to be just below 50%.

“If you want to win a referendum – and clearly make the case a referendum is justified – you need to start well ahead.”

In the independence referendum in 2014, Scotland voted against becoming an independent country by 55% to 45%.

Since becoming first minister, Mr Yousaf has demanded a Section 30 order – to allow another referendum. But that has not been accepted by the prime minister.

Mr Yousaf’s allies acknowledge the position in Westminster is not going to change under the current government. The Supreme Court also made clear last year that Holyrood could not force another vote without Westminster’s consent.

Sources say they now have to move the dial to force another referendum – and that there is no shortcut to making that happen.

They argue events may help change that. In particular, they claim a Labour government could be forced to accept another referendum as the price of support in a hung Parliament.

Labour has said it would not cut any deals with the SNP.

Source: BBC

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