But do the English even care?
We are accustomed to the rough and tumble of party politics. The rows, the accusations, the backstabbing and hostile allegations are not for the faint-hearted. It’s tough enough when these wars are waged across the chamber floor, between those of different political persuasion. But when the battle is between a pair once on the same side and once seen as best buddies and closest allies, then the fighting can get dangerously dirty. And the fallout, both politically and personally, can be fatal. The Scottish National Party, under the leadership of Nicola Sturgeon, is riding high in the polls, and with elections looming, is predicted to retain its thumping majority at Holyrood. If victory is achieved the SNP’s promised push for a second referendum on Scottish independence will follow. But the bitter row between Scotland’s former first minister and SNP leader, Alex Salmond, and the current holder of those posts has resurfaced,
and could potentially upset party plans and, in theory at least, force Ms Sturgeon’s resignation.
The row goes back to 2018, when two female civil servants made allegations of sexual harassment against Mr Salmond, which he denied, and consequently led to a botched investigation by the Scottish Government. The investigation was eventually ruled unlawful by a judge, and then separately, Mr Salmond was cleared of multiple charges of sexual assault, including rape, in a trial last year. He and his supporters claimed Ms Sturgeon, and officials close to her, misled parliament over the initial inquiry. Ms Sturgeon denies this. And after his trial Mr Salmon spoke of “certain information” which would “see the light of day” in the future. The remark was seen as a veiled threat to make public further allegations about Ms Sturgeon’s involvement in the case. Now, amid claim and counter claim, official inquiries continue into both the botched investigation and also into whether Ms Sturgeon breached ministerial code. If this were found to be so, there would be demands for her resignation, although her personal popularity ratings could see her safe.
South of the border, while Tories may smile at SNP woes, Boris Johnson has been warned not to expect a halt in the rise of Scottish nationalism or the push for independence. But what about the English in general, do they care one way or another about the future of the “Auld Enemy”?
What our surveys show
Despite the perpetual cross border bickering, the majority of the British are concerned about the potential break up of the Union. A majority of 61% expressed a “fair level” or “high level” of care and concern for the political future of the combined Home nations. In England alone, though, support fell, with a combined 42% saying they had “a low level” or no concern at all for the political future of the other Home nations. Add the 9% “Don’t Knows” and in England only you have a majority who don’t much care about the Union as an
Overall 42% said they thought Scotland should remain in the UK, whilst the English were even keener (46%) on the Scots staying. On the “who decides” issue, 33% said the Scots should decide for themselves, and again England support for this was higher, at 36%. Support for independence was higher overall, at 19%, with England at 13%. And it was an almost down the middle split on whether the Scots should get another referendum – overall 45% said “Yes” and 46% “No”, with 9% “Don’t Knows”. In England almost half, 49%, said “No”.