She may not be getting just as much attention as the two major party leaders, however, Nicola Sturgeon, on the 9th June, may not only have a large share of influence in relation to Britain’s future, but may also be acting as kingmaker for the keys to 10 Downing Street.
Praised as not only Scotland’s but also Britain’s best politician, Sturgeon is on the cusp of sealing a second Scottish independence referendum previously calling for one to be held in 2019 last March. Her rhetoric has changed since then as she turns her attention to the vote on Thursday, a vote that could quite possibly determine her future options.
In 2015 the SNP took an unprecedented 50% of the popular vote and all but 3 of the 59 seats in Scotland axing a distraught and destroyed Labour Party from its previous power stronghold. In 2017, expectations are lower; a possible swing to the tories of over 10% is possible as well as a fall in the number of seats claimed from 2015. Indeed even the party’s Westminster leader, Angus Robertson, who took his place in the Commons well before the landslide 2 years ago, is in danger of losing out in Moray to Ruth Davidson’s rejuvenated Tory party.
For Sturgeon it is clear that this election is all about damage limitation and maintaining a sufficient mandate; it was always going to be difficult to do any better. As for her campaign for independence, her tactics have changed since this election was called. Before, she planned to have it late 2018, early 2019 in the middle of Brexit negotiations and one year out from the 2020 election. This would be a win-win; increase your chances of winning by exposing the dreadful difficulties that come with a Brexit that Scotland never wanted, or lose by another close enough margin and see the SNP claim another landslide in 2020; at least a repeat of 2015 would be much easier in 2020 if the issue of independence was kept right at the forefront of Scottish voters’ minds. Now though, since this election has been called, Sturgeon has altered her plans; scrapping the clause which locked her to a referendum before “spring 2019”, and replacing it with one that should happen at the “end of the Brexit process” closer to the next general election that will take place in May 2022 and another win-win situation. Thus, it seems, yes, Sturgeon is taking a different approach with time frame, but still a very much similar plan in relation to what would be best for the party.