by Colin Campbell
I’M no fan of the vile National but occasionally it has its uses.
Last night on its website it had half a dozen stories on Nicola Sturgeon’s big independence televised “scene setter” yesterday.
I wasn’t interested in the stories and I can’t access them behind the rag’s paywall anyway. But I did look at the comments underneath from subscribers. Or rather, the dearth of comments. One story had only one comment. The maximum was six.
This is at least some kind of barometer of the level of interest and excitement Sturgeon generated among her followers yesterday.
Not much it seems. Fourteen months ago when a poll showed independence support at 58 per cent with the anticipation that the SNP would sweep all before them in the Holyrood elections literally hundreds of nats wanted to have their euphoric say on the National website, the first thing they turned to.
Now Sturgeon takes centre stage again and the number has plummeted to half a dozen, or less.
If she can’t even fire up “the base” with her latest indy proclamation, why should the rest of us be interested?
The reality is that scene setter Sturgeon can only create a cliffhanger drama so often. We’ve heard it all before, that is both those for and against independence.
And the screen version of “Indy Campaign 23” or whatever the title of the sequel was bombed.
It was boring to watch, lacked any drama and was robbed of any gravitas it might have had by the presence of weird little Green man Patrick Harvie standing alongside Sturgeon.
This little goblin is never going to sway opinion in the direction he wants it to go. But he may well sway opinion against it. The idea that Patrick Harvie is going to be remembered as a historical figure who shaped the future of Scotland is risible beyond the realms of fantasy.
And what was yesterday actually about? As scene setters go, Amber Heard could have delivered a more convincing performance than Sturgeon.
She is “open to negotiation” with Boris Johnson on securing a section 30 order from Westminster to make another referendum legal. He at least provided some clarity by making it known that he wasn’t interested before she’d even finished speaking.
However if a section 30 order is not forthcoming she is taking steps to ensure Holyrood can run a legal referendum of its own.
What Sturgeon needed yesterday was a throwback to her daily coronavirus show when she would call on various health experts to speak. If yesterday she’d been able to call on some Professor of Law to step forward and back her claim about the legality of a Holyrood referendum that would have caused everyone to sit up and take notice.
But there was no one. Just more Sturgeon waffle. And when would she back up her claim about Holyrood legality? Not yet, but soon. That battered old can keeps getting kicked on down the road.
Following the scene setter, there is to be a series of other scene setters. Next stop currency, then maybe pensions, then perhaps a hard passport controlled border with England, followed by something else. Each of the scenes will be set by Sturgeon on her own. We don’t know the timing of any of them. And yet we’re just six months away from her promised “indyref 23”.
But if there’s to be no legal referendum with section 30 approval from Westminster, none of that matters.
It’s possible, but unlikely that Sturgeon and the weird little Green man will try holding an illegal, wildcat referendum which will be boycotted by more than half the nation and leave the instigators a laughing stock.
Sturgeon can only get away with the referendum drama so often and this latest sham was one sequel too far. It’s become jaded and boring.
It seems even the true believers are finally beginning to have doubts. A tiny handful of comments about the latest “campaign launch” in the National?
And not one of those big marches they used to have anywhere in sight.