Sturgeon is slammed for 'chilling' comments about older pro-UK voters

‘I’ve got time on my side’: Nicola Sturgeon is slammed for ‘chilling’ suggestion the death of elderly Scots who back the Union will help deliver independence

  • First Minister Nicola Sturgeon remarks were quickly branded ‘chilling’ last night
  • She said she has ‘time on my side’ due to age of those supporting┬áindependence
  • She said the Covid pandemic is likely to have receded sufficiently by early spring
  • She said it’ll allow her to make ‘concrete decisions’ about timing of referendum

Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of making ‘distasteful’ suggestions that the death of older Scots who back the Union could help deliver independence.

The First Minister’s remarks were branded ‘chilling’ yesterday after she said she has got ‘time on my side’ because of the demographics of support for Scotland breaking away from the UK.

She also said the coronavirus pandemic is likely to have receded sufficiently by early spring to allow her to make ‘concrete decisions’ about the timing of an independence referendum.

The comments about demographics reflect similar remarks made last year by Angus Robertson, now the SNP’s Constitution Secretary, when he said 55,000 predominantly independence-supporting 16-year-olds join the electorate every year, while 55,000 predominantly No-supporting older voters pass away.

The First Minister’s remarks were branded ‘chilling’ yesterday after she said she has got ‘time on my side’ because of the demographics of support for Scotland breaking away from the UK

In an interview with The Financial Times about her push for another referendum, Miss Sturgeon said: ‘I can’t look ahead and tell you exactly how this constitutional impasse is going to resolve itself, but it will resolve itself – and it will resolve itself on the side of democracy, because actually, the alternative is pretty unthinkable.

‘I’ve got democracy on my side… if they think it’s about playing a waiting game, I’ve probably got time on my side as well.

‘You look at the demographics of the support for independence – well, I’m not sure that’s going to get you out of this conundrum.’

Scottish Conservative shadow constitution secretary Donald Cameron said: ‘These appalling comments are chilling.

‘It seems Nicola Sturgeon is implying that the independence movement will benefit from older people passing away.

‘These comments are deeply offensive and she should apologise for them immediately.’

Scottish Conservative shadow constitution secretary Donald Cameron said: ‘These appalling comments are chilling’

Pamela Nash, chief executive of the Scotland in Union campaign group, added: ‘Nicola Sturgeon’s interview shows how utterly obsessed she is with constitutional division rather than being focused on her government’s failings.

‘And while she is less blunt, she is also making the same distasteful argument that her colleagues have repeatedly made about waiting for older Scots to die in the hope that this will deliver separation.

‘The reality is that our younger generation are more interconnected than ever and want solutions for the future that will tackle challenges like climate change, not tired old constitutional arguments from the past.’

The First Minister’s official spokesman yesterday failed to give an alternative explanation for what the comments meant.

Asked if the comments were a reference to support for independence being higher among younger people than older people, he said: ‘Well that is an established fact, in polling terms that is certainly an established fact that that is the case.’

Pressed to confirm if the reference to demographics means ‘older voters dying off’, he said: ‘Well it is an established fact, as I say, that support for independence in just about any opinion poll you care to look at that support for independence among younger voters is very, very strong, there is no great mystery or surprise there.

‘We can sit here all afternoon if you like – I am not going to add to the First Minister’s comments.’

In her programme for government last month, Miss Sturgeon claimed that a referendum must be able to go ahead in the first half of this parliamentary term, before the end of 2023.

In the FT interview, published yesterday, she signalled she could set a specific proposed date in early spring.

She said: ‘As we come out of this winter into the spring – with, I hope, a lot more certainty about the Covid situation being a bit more in the rear-view mirror – we start to take more concrete decisions around all of this.’

A Scottish Conservative spokesman said: ‘The last thing Scotland needs right now is another divisive referendum. All of our focus should be on recovering from Covid.’

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