by Colin Campbell
NO-ONE can be in any doubt – as Nicola Sturgeon shouts it from the rooftops – that in Scotland this election is all about “indyref2”. Time and again she has said a vote for the SNP is a “clear message” on the demand for a second independence vote. No ifs, no buts, no maybes. At least she can’t be criticised for lacking candour. So lines are drawn and positions are staked out. But not for anyone reading the election material of the SNP’s man in the Inverness constituency, Drew Hendry.
Here’s what he has to say about independence and indyref2 on the spread-out pamphlet being pushed through our letterboxes.
Not a single word.
It doesn’t get a mention, not one.
His election standpoint is as anodyne as if he was standing for a local community council.
He outlines all the good work – as he sees it – he’s done during his term in office, on securing investment for the region, on improving broadband connectivity, and trying to end unfair postal delivery charges.
But the “I” word doesn’t get a look-in.
Why should this be? Why isn’t he also banging the drum for independence?
Has he left it out by mistake, an oversight, a slip of the pen? Or is he scared to mention it because he recognises it’s a surefire vote loser.
If it’s the latter it’s a cowardly approach from the man seeking re-election as Inverness MP.
For the past 40 years, all the way back to the Russell Johnston era, the Inverness seat has swung over the decades from Liberal to Labour and back to Liberal Democrat.
Now Drew Hendry finds himself seeking re-election here as an SNP MP for the third time in four years.
But his run of success has nothing to do with “improving broadband connectivity” or postal charges. Neither is it because he’s the most impressive ex-councillor the Highlands has ever known.
It’s purely and solely because of the SNP’s push for independence, and, particularly this time, Sturgeon’s drive for another referendum next year. That’s why the nationalist hordes will turn out and vote for him.
Given that this is what the election is all about, shouldn’t Hendry pay even some acknowledgement to that?
Shouldn’t he stand up and be counted and say: This is the main reason to vote for me?
And not hide behind his local “successes” and omit any reference to independence whatsoever?
In the election material I’ve seen he prefers to take the much cosier approach of bashing Boris and Brexit. And he says the election will “give you the choice over the future you want”.
Any candidate could say that about any election.
Sturgeon has told SNP supporters that “this is the most important election of our (their) lifetimes.
If that’s the case her candidates should be upfront with voters and spell out clearly and unmistakably that a vote for them is a vote for an independence referendum in a few months time.
Drew Hendry shies away from this because he fears it’ll lose him votes among some who may be tempted to vote SNP. He’s worried that if they see it written in black and white they’ll think twice when they enter the ballot booth.
There’s no doubt he’s the favourite to win again in the Inverness constituency.
But if he does it’s because he’s sneaking back to Westminster with all the perks and privileges it brings.
And running scared over what the December 12 election is really all about.