Boris Johnson, Brexit, the Scottish government’s handling of the Covid 19 pandemic and, like continental drift, demographic change in the oldest sectors of the population are all boosting support for independence
With opinion polls reporting at least 53% support for independence the YES movement must look at what that might push support below 50%.
Will Johnson Go
Chancellor Rishi Sunak was recently asked if he wanted to be Prime Minister. He gave the standard reply that it is hard enough to be chancellor and said “We” should be grateful for the Johnson’s leadership. This translates as “Yes, but I want the clown fronting the show till the current cloud of manure has settled.”
No one with functioning braincells and less than astronomical egotism would want the premiership right now. None of the single neuron powered galactic egos in the Parliamentary Tory party want to depose a leader who won an 80 seat majority by wooing the extreme right and xenophobic working class Brexiteers. Yet.
Johnson will probably remain in power, driving support for independence higher: the more he screws things up the less attractive seems the idea of taking his place.
Suppose Johnson Does Go?
Johnson’s resignation has been kite-flown recently and had confirmatory denial from Downing Street. None of the likely candidates for his replacement would reduce support for independence significantly, especially as Johnson’s Rasputin would still pull their strings.
It is unlikely the Tory party will factor survival of the Union into their calculations when choosing a new leader. The Parliamentary Tory Nasty party selects two candidates. The grassroots party, where there is a majority in favour of dissolving the union, are then graciously allowed to choose between them.
MPs vote according to the risk first of losing their seat and secondly of the Tories losing power. Few, perhaps none outside Scotland, care about survival of the union. Ss in the wider Parliament the Scottish accounting unit can be outvoted. Some MPs may vote for candidates most likely to break up the union thinking the end of the union will mean a Tory majority for ever.
It is unlikely a new Prime Minister will drive support for independence down
What About Brexit
It is extremely unlikely the UK government will cancel article 50 and revert to full membership or decide to join the single market. If they did Farage, via the Brexit Party, would instantly become an existential threat to the Tory party and the main stream media would declare the government enemies of the people.
A last minute deal could be cobbled together to persuade those who voted No in 2014 and have since swung to Yes to revert to No. Some may revert but many have had enough of Tory incompetence venality and corruption disguised as incompetence.
Brexit will neither go away nor reduce support for Independence.
The Scottish Government are seen to be handling the pandemic much better than the English Government. Even if the pandemic vanished tomorrow the perception Holyrood handled it much better than Westminster will remain.
Nicola Sturgeon is the face of Holyrood and there seems no perception that her supporting team is as capable as she is. If she ceased to be First Minister, for any reason, support for independence may drop, if only temporarily. Hopefully there is a key-person replacement plan in place.
Roughly three out of four over 65s oppose independence. Time is shrinking this percentage and by the next referendum NO voters may well be a minority in the over 65s as well as other age groups.
No government can alter this. Tory policies on pensions have alienated more and more old people and proposals to cut winter fuel allowance and abandon the triple lock will not reduce support for independence among the over 65s.
It seems highly likely that an independent Scotland could top up UK state pensions after independence or, even bear the whole cost if the UK government again breaks the law and defunds those currently getting the UK state pension.
Demographic change will slowly but surely drive support for independence upward
What Else Could Derail Independence
Divisions in the YES movement could prevent a pro-independence majority in the next Holyrood election if new parties field impatient candidates on the list thus letting Unionist MPs in by the back door. To be certain of a majority the SNP must capture 66 of the 73 constituency seats. No polling organisation predicts this.
Complacency over the high level of support for independence could mean the YES movement drops its guard and Unionist dirty tricks win the day.
Political machinations in Westminster will continue increasing support for Independence.
A new Prime Minister is unlikely and unlikely to change this.
Brexit will not go away and no fudge deal with the EU will slow down growth in support for independence let alone reverse the recent trend.
Memories of how Holyrood are handling the pandemic will work against Westminster moves to preserve their Precious Union.
Demographic changes mean a slow but unstoppable growth in support for independence.
Nicola Sturgeon’s image is driving independence support. It is not clear to what extent other members of her team could replace her as drivers for independence.
Divisions and complacency in the YES movement could still prevent independence.