Nicola Sturgeon has accused Labour of giving “the proverbial two fingers” to Scottish voters, as she warned that regardless of who wins the Tory leadership race it is “virtually certain” to mean a shift further to the right for the UK.
Launching the second in a series of papers intended to make the substantive case for independence to the Scottish public, the first minister said Keir Starmer’s insistence that he would block a second referendum should Labour win the next general election amounted to “cynical political calculations”.
“In the pursuit of votes from the Tories in England they effectively give the proverbial two fingers to Scotland,” she said. “They should not be surprised if the people of Scotland continue to take a really dim view of that – Labour’s message to Scotland appears to be ‘we don’t really care about you, you’re just lobby fodder and if you’re not prepared to vote for us, your votes don’t matter’.”
Starmer has also vowed Labour would never do a deal with the Scottish National party after a general election, in an effort to spike Conservative attacks on a “coalition of chaos”.
Taking questions from reporters at her official residence, Bute House, in Edinburgh, Sturgeon refused to “rank” the candidates vying to replace Boris Johnson as Conservative leader but said that whoever was chosen by the party would be “another prime minister that Scotland hasn’t voted for”.
“The change of Tory leader seems virtually certain to be accompanied by a shift even further to the right. And that means, of course, a shift even further away from the mainstream of Scottish opinion and values,” she said.
She envisaged “a race to the bottom on tax, cuts to public services and support for families, more posturing over Brexit, hurting businesses and trade, abandonment of the fight against climate change, and a toxic – indeed wholly manufactured – culture war putting equalities and human rights protections at risk”.
Sturgeon repeated her assertion that, by asking the supreme court to rule on the legality of Holyrood legislating for another referendum, she was depriving Westminster of the opportunity to “get into endless arguments about process”, stating that “we know the UK government and unionist parties are running scared of the substantive debate on independence”.
She added that the initial submission to the supreme court made by UK government lawyers earlier this week, which urged it to reject the Scottish government’s request for a ruling on the grounds it was premature, was evidence that the UK government was not even willing to have a substantive argument on process.
The paper sets out the Scottish government’s view that “independence is the only realistic way to renew Scotland’s democratic institutions”, highlighting ways in which Westminster is “eroding and constraining Scotland’s democracy, and undermining a devolution settlement that is already too limited to enable Scotland to fully address the challenges of the future.”
July 14, 2022 at 06:40PM Libby Brooks Scotland correspondent