by Colin Campbell
INVERNESS MP Drew Hendry has a graphic on opinion polls at the top of his Twitter site. Well the latest one shows that support for independence is tumbling. And he’s part of the reason why.
Last week the former ex-councillor went on the radio to try and trash a report by professors at the London School of Economics which revealed that independence would lead to the equivalent of a wage cut of between £2,000 and £2,800 per person.
This from Hendry was brash, bold and brainless.
The LSE report took months to research and complete. Hendry, making an attempt to reinvent himself as some kind of financial expert, thought he could demolish it within the space of a few hours.
His so-called rebuttal was puerile and pathetic.
And it encapsulated the current mood of rampant arrogance running through the SNP. Facts don’t matter, the truth if it hurts doesn’t matter, any realities they don’t like are simply brushed aside.
The idea of our stolid ex-councillor publicly taking on the LSE was risible. In this sphere he’s completely out of his depth. But the SNP are now so cocksure of their national supremacy that they think they can put forward any economically-challenged dimwit to try and denounce the views of objective financial experts and get away with it.
To paraphrase the old saying, they can fool some of the people all of the time but they won’t fool more than 50 per cent all of the time.
The latest poll has support for independence down to 47 per cent. The giddy heights of the 58 per cent figure they were trumpeting not so long ago was nothing more than a passing illusion.
But it did them damage, huge damage. Under intense pressure from the fanatics and zealots within the party, who were salivating over that freakish poll figure, it forced Nicola Sturgeon to make the biggest mistake she’s ever made by announcing she would hold an illegal referendum if necessary.
This is the first opinion poll to emerge since that incendiary announcement. And it shows just how well the word illegal goes down with wavering voters.
But the genie’s out of the bottle now. The SNP have been tainted with the image of reckless illegality and they’re not going to shake it off anytime soon.
The Salmond affair and the Joanna Cherry sacking, among other toxic issues, have led to seething division and infighting within the SNP. The spectacle of them feuding like ferrets on steroids in a sack is an unappealing one to wavering voters who want to see politicians and political parties calmly in control of their emotions and of events.
So Brain of Britain Hendry is by no means totally to blame for that slump in support for the SNP, not by a long chalk. He’s had plenty of inadequate colleagues as helpers along the way.
The SNP will still be the largest party in the next Scottish Parliament after the May elections.
But trying to move forward from there to another referendum – setting aside the fact that Boris Johnson will reject it out of hand – is a different matter altogether.
Support for independence is falling.
And the public hasn’t even started demanding serious, credible answers yet on currency, mortgages, the deficit, the loss of £2000 per head extra public spending compared with what people in England are allocated, the EU, the prospect of a hard border with England, and on who will pay our pensions.
At some point SNP politicians like Drew Hendry and Ian Blackford are going to have to try and answer these questions, in the surefire knowledge that yet more bluster, evasion, falsehoods and “trust us” fantasy won’t do.
Then watch those polls in support of independence really nosedive.