HERE we go again! Lots of words from the First Minister but not a lot of positive action. (Preparations for indyref2 at heart of FM’s Programme for Government.) Always with the proviso, “When the Covid crisis is over.”

So, let’s take her exact words and transcribe them.

“We will, secure a referendum on Scottish independence after the Covid crisis. This would be within the current Parliamentary session on a specific date to be determined. If the Covid crisis has passed, our intention is for the referendum to be within the first half of the five-year parliamentary session.”

For the above, read instead.

“You’re not going to get a referendum on Scottish independence during the current Parliamentary session unless the Covid crisis is over. Nowhere will we outline what constitutes the Crisis being over. You’ll just have to wait and take our word for it.”

Maybe we’ll get it, maybe we won’t! But this much you can be sure of: Even if it is not safe for us to turn out in large numbers to a polling station to vote for Independence, it will be perfectly safe for us either to turn up at the same polling station to vote, or to send in our postal votes, for the next Scottish Government, when the time comes – whether the crisis is over or not.

We have already turned out, or sent in our postal votes for the present government, in the middle of the crisis. No doubt we will be expected to turn out next year to vote for the council elections, whether the crisis is over or not. So why the double standard? If it’s possible to introduce the safety precautions that are needed to allow us to vote for a national government, as Boris Johnson required us to do, or for a Scottish Government election as happened recently – and both during the crisis – and if it’s going to be possible to have in place the same safety precautions to allow the local government elections to go ahead next year, then why is it not possible to put the same safety precautions in place and set a date for an “election” (referendum) to vote for independence? Quite honestly, something smells a bit iffy!

Why can’t they sort out the policies for an incoming independent government – like currency, tax and pensions – which will provide the “Yes movement” with the doorstep answers they need, and then set a definite date for the referendum? I’m fed up with Scottish Government ministers, and SNP Westminster MPs, continually telling us that it is only with Independence that we can put right those things that are wrong because of Brexit or because of Covid, but then they do little or nothing about it.

For instance, you reported recently that the SNP conference committee had rejected the motion by the Dalkeith branch to discuss and set a date for the referendum, but will instead debate how they will get rid of nuclear weapons from the Clyde after Independence is achieved. What an utter waste of good debating time. The very format of the proposal indicates that this is something that can only be achieved after independence. Why waste time debating it before we get independence? Debate instead something that really matters like the currency etc that I mentioned above. Those are the details that will swing “maybe” voters into “Yes” voters. Those are the facts we need in order to get enough support to gain Independence. Then, once we’ve got it, we can decide the programme to get rid of Trident and the rotting nuclear hulks at Rosyth.

I also note that there is another “Record low for Scots A&E waiting times”, (Page 21), with only 74.2% treated or transferred within the target four-hour waiting time. No doubt the Scottish Government will be blamed for this. The Tories will probably have a field day shouting about it. But, page eight tells us, “NHS vacancies at record levels, union says.” Various figures are then given to justify this statement. But at the end of the day, the problem has been caused by Brexit and the harsh immigration policy of the UK Tory Government towards EU and other non-UK nationals living here. A high percentage of the vacancies are caused by foreign nurses returning to their home countries because Westminster says they are not welcome here.

Only with independence can this be put right.

First Minister, please note! This is another very good reason why independence should not only be at the forefront of your government programme, without any preconditions, but also at the forefront of your party conference – again whether Covid is over or not!

Charlie Kerr