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Balancing act leaves us all on tightrope.


IT'S EASY to mock the First Minister's abandonment of the 2014 independence model but it highlights the pressures Nicola Sturgeon is coming under.

She has to put a great distance between herself and the economic flaws of the last independence case.

Sturgeon has to destroy the old independence argument and construct a new one in a hurry because Brexit presents her with a closing window of opportunity to go for another referendum.

Brexit is seen by many SNP supporters as the short-cut to independence.

Sturgeon initially threatened a second indy referendum if Scotland did not keep its place in the EU single market.

When polls showed no surge for independence despite Scots voting overwhelmingly to stay in the EU she stepped back.

Now she has see-sawed to an indy or bust stance pleasing to the activist base.

Part of the reason is that Sturgeon is, as Willie Rennie said, "trapped" between SNP activists who want freedom at any price and her own caution.

The political reality is if she goes early she loses, and if she loses it is curtains for her and for independence.

The tension could make for an interesting SNP conference in Glasgow.

Tommy Sheppard, the amiable Edinburgh MP, is standing against Angus Robertson for the party deputy leadership.

Sheppard offers leftwingers who have swelled SNP ranks a chance to express their impatience.

For Sturgeon it is important Robertson fends off the challenge.

She does not want a thorn in her side that could disrupt party discipline and her dominance of the referendum timing.

So the shift to transcendental independence has to be seen through the prism of what Sturgeon is attempting to do - walking a tightrope between a call for a second vote and not really wanting to do so until the result is guaranteed.

She's trying to take the country out on that rope with her, and that's harder than yogic flying.

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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Sep 19, 2016
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