As I See It
Sturgeon is right to prepare, not push, for indyref2
A year on from the first poll, the constitution remains the biggest issue facing the party leader. It defines the SNP and without the pursuit of independence at the core of its policies some say it would become irrelevant, forcing it to disband.
Ms Sturgeon knows she is handling the mother of all balancing acts. Yes, she believes firmly in continuing the fight. It drives her personally and colours her vision of the policies and politics of the country.
But she is a tactician – arguably a better one that her predecessor. She understands, or has been well advised, that rushing into a second referendum before the country is ready would be folly. She will only pull the trigger when she knows that victory is assured.
Of course, nothing is certain in politics and one thing she will want to avoid is a long campaign. The key decision will be timing and she will want to announce any new poll within a short time frame and when there is a minimal likelihood of anything going wrong before the public cast their votes.
In the meantime, she has understood that the key to achieving that “certain” majority is not by constant rhetoric or pamphleting, but by demonstrating that the country would be better off under independence.
Already this week she has reeled off statistics to “prove” her case. The legitimacy of these claims and the SNP’s record in government are open to debate, but the point here is that she wants the public to know that an independent Scotland can go-it-alone and prosper.
Her challenge, therefore, (and assuming victory next May) will be to use these next two or three years to build a case stronger than last time around. She has many factors in her favour, not least the huge growth in the party’s membership and the large rump of MPs in the Commons to pressure Westminster.
Ms Sturgeon and her government will be the first to exercise the new taxation powers handed to Scotland. Using them wisely and to good effect will be a crucial test of the SNP’s ability to put words into action.