Nicola Sturgeon’s indy dream dealt blow as Salmond inquiry ‘sowing doubt in voters’ minds’

Sturgeon quizzed after conclusion of Alex Salmond inquest

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The First Minister was investigated over allegations she may have breached the ministerial code by an independent adviser to the Scottish Government. However, James Hamilton QC concluded that Ms Sturgeon did not breach the ministerial code in relation to the four allegations he investigated. It comes after her predecessor Alex Salmond said Ms Sturgeon made “false and manifestly untrue” statements to MSPs several times.

However, Ms Sturgeon is now facing a vote of no confidence in the Scottish Parliament, with opposition leaders claiming she misled Parliament about what she told MSPs about her knowledge of harassment allegations made against Mr Salmond.

New polls commissioned by think tank Onward looking at support for Scottish Independence have now shown support for Indyref2 was extremely volatile”.

In the first poll, 56 percent of voters said they would vote Yes in a second referendum, with 44 percent still wanting to stay in the UK.

But the second poll, carried out a week later put support for independence at 53 percent, with 47 percent opposed.

A new State of the Union report said: “In our second wave poll, conducted a week later, the Yes lead fell by five percentage points driven in large part by a nine-point swing among women and a 25-point swing among 18 to 24-year-olds towards No.

“This was the week that Nicola Sturgeon gave evidence to the Scottish Parliament inquiry into the Salmond trial, suggesting that division within the independence movement is affecting vote intention.”

Meanwhile, Onward said its poll had found almost half (49 percent) of all Scottish people wanted covid to be “completely eliminated in Scotland” before such another independence vote is held.

The think tank added this also included 48 percent of Yes voters.

The group stated: “It is clear that, however much they may support independence in principle, Scottish voters want politicians to focus on the immediate crisis of the pandemic, rather than independence.”

It went on to say that 43 percent of people, including 40 percent of Yes voters, wanted jobs and economic growth in Scotland to be “back to where they were before coronavirus” as another condition of having a second referendum.

The report said: “This suggests that voters see the economic consequences of the pandemic as nearly as important as the public health impact in deciding the timing of any referendum.”

Will Tanner, report-co-author and director of Onward, also warned the results of the Salmond inquiry appears to be “sowing doubt in voters’ minds”.

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He said: “The breakup of the United Kingdom is not a foregone conclusion. Headline support for Scottish independence may be worryingly high, but it is clear that Scots do not want a referendum until coronavirus has been eliminated and the economy recovered.

“In addition, the Alex Salmond inquiry appears to be sowing doubt in voters’ minds at exactly the moment the vaccine programme is proving the benefits of partnership within the Union.”

Speaking as the Scottish Government published a draft independence referendum Bill earlier today, Constitution Secretary Mike Russell insisted that ministers had been “laser-focused over the past year on tackling the pandemic”.

But he added: “The question we face as we come out of the health crisis is this: who has the right to decide the kind of country Scotland should be after the pandemic?

“Should it be the people who live here, or Westminster Governments?”

SNP deputy leader Keith Brown also said: “When the current Covid crisis is over the people of Scotland – not Boris Johnson – have the right to decide how we recover from the pandemic.

“The SNP is fully-focussed on tackling Covid-19, but the powers that come with independence are essential if we are to create the kind of country we know is possible after the pandemic.

“Boris Johnson and the Tories have ridden roughshod over Scotland by hammering our economy with a hard Brexit, stripping powers from the Scottish Parliament, and threatening to sign away our NHS in a damaging trade deal. We can’t let the Tories wreck Scotland’s recovery.”

Mr Brown insisted: “The people of Scotland must have the right to choose a better future in a post-pandemic referendum. Giving both votes to the SNP in May is the only way to protect that right and put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands.”

Mr Salmond was acquitted of 13 charges, including sexual assault, indecent assault and attempted rape, in March 2020 following a High Court trial.

Ms Sturgeon initially told Holyrood she first heard of the sexual misconduct complaints against her predecessor when they met at her home on April 2, 2018.

But it later emerged she discussed the allegations with Mr Salmond’s chief of staff, Geoff Aberdein, in her Holyrood office four days earlier.

Ms Sturgeon said she had forgotten the contents of her discussion with Mr Aberdein and it was her meeting with Mr Salmond which was “seared on her memory”.

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