The Guardian view on the SNP: deliver on public services, not just a referendum | Editorial
It may be too difficult for the Scottish government to enact big bang reforms while pursuing an independence vote
Since 2007, the Scottish National party has been the largest party in Holyrood, dominating politics to become a credible party of government. It has now begun its fourth term in power. Yet the SNP has had few major policy achievements and nothing comparable to the flagship policies around tuition fees or care for the elderly associated with the previous Labour administration. The SNP has made some big promises. Nicola Sturgeon, the party’s leader, says that she wants to set up a National Care Service in Scotland by 2026 as a “fitting legacy from the trauma of Covid”.
Yet it is questionable whether such a project, the cost of which experts say the SNP has underestimated, could be enacted in tandem with pursuing an independence referendum when support for leaving the UK is ebbing. The constitutional question energises the SNP activist base. It is why Ms Sturgeon told delegates at her party conference that she wanted a second referendum on Scotland’s independence by 2023. Downing Street’s rejection of another poll points to a gruelling stalemate in the years ahead.