Nicola Sturgeon will make a statement this week. The statement will include the results of her ‘reflection’ after a general election which saw the SNP win an overall majority of Scottish Westminster seats but suffer more seat losses than was expected.
Media focus will be on what the First Minister says about a second independence referendum. I’ve already written an article detailing what I expect the First Minister to say in this regard.
However in anticipation of her statement there is already building a narrative within this same media that Nicola Sturgeon will U-turn on her Indyref2 timetable.
On Sunday the Good Morning Scotland newspaper ‘review’ led with the front page of the Sunday Mail which read ‘Indyref U-turn’ alongside an image of a forlorn looking Nicola Sturgeon. A sub-heading read: No new poll by spring 2019.
The Sunday Mail article – which itself was headlined IndyRef2 U-turn as Nicola Sturgeon ditches plan for 2019 vote to focus on fight for ‘soft’ Brexit contained the following paragraph:
The story was of course treated as absolute fact as the two invited guest pundits ‘reviewed’ the story. One of the pundits was David Clegg who readers will recognise as the Political Editor of the Daily Record, the weekday sister publication of the Sunday Mail. Clegg was hardly likely to cast doubt on the story … and he duly didn’t.
This U-turn line is I fear what the Scottish media is preparing for the coming week when Nicola Sturgeon issues her much anticipated statement. The other euphemism the media has crafted is that a second independence referendum has been ‘parked’.
If, as expected, the First Minister indicates that the chaotic Brexit negotiations mean her initial timetable of autumn 2018 to spring 2019 has now been delayed, the media will be ready with their negative line. The narrative will be that Nicola Sturgeon has somehow rolled-back on her Indyref2 plans.
That folks will be the line. It will also be false. The video below is from the SNP manifesto launch on May 30th.
Nicola Sturgeon was absolutely clear when she told the assembled media that the timetable for a second independence referendum was based entirely on estimates provided by Theresa May. She had already said it, but repeated that the timetable was dependent on Brexit talks and could change.
The Sunday Mail headline says there will be no second independence referendum by spring 2019. That may be true. But if any delay to the First Minister’s initial timetable is due to Brexit negotiation delays then it isn’t a U-turn – in fact it’s the very opposite of a U-turn.
It remains a possibility that Nicola Sturgeon may indeed unilaterally announce her plans for a second independence referendum by spring 2019 have been cancelled, regardless of the Brexit negotiations. In that case it will indeed be a U-turn.
If though, as I believe, the First Minister announces no unilateral delay to her Indyref2 timetable, then any claims of a U-turn or the second ballot having been ‘parked’ will be false. Pay very close attention to what Nicola Sturgeon says and what the media reports.
If you enjoyed reading this article please feel free to make a small donation.