In New Year’s Messages, UK Tory bigwigs issued stern warnings as Scots are set to return to polling stations in May. Speaking today, Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross urged voters to turn to Unionism in a bid to force the SNP out of 13 years of power.
He added: “The people of Scotland are due to return to the polling stations.
“It is no exaggeration to say the country’s future is at stake.
“On the ballot will be the SNP’s obsessive determination to inflict another divisive independence referendum on the country.”
After more than 17 referendums put support for independence at in mid-fifties, Scottish political parties are gearing up for what is expected to be several months of heated electoral campaigns in the New Year.
A study by Savanta ComRes for The Scotsman found 58 percent of 1,013 Scots asked support independence when undecided voters are removed, while 42 percent are in favour of the union.
The support for independence was reflected in the poll’s findings of Holyrood voting intentions for next year’s election, with the SNP forecast to win an overall majority with 71 seats – up from the current 63 – and the Scottish Greens moving up to 11 seats from five.
The poll, undertaken last week, suggests the Tories are set to drop eight seats while Labour will lose five, dropping to 23 and 19 seats respectively, while the Lib Dems are forecast to retain five seats.
Mr Ross stressed on independence: “This, in the minds of the Nationalists, is more important than pulling together to help rebuild our shattered economy and a society scarred by the pandemic.
“Scottish people want instead to see the UK Government and the devolved administrations working together, in everyone’s best interest.
“I urge the Scottish Government to work with us to focus on supporting jobs and driving Scotland’s economic recovery.
“As we begin this new chapter, our firm hope is that UK-wide, we embrace the many opportunities ahead of us.
“I believe that our future is bright.”
On the Nationalist side, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon thanked Scots for their sacrifices during an “unimaginably difficult” 2020.
In her new year message, she praised the “most extraordinary dedication” of health and care workers and volunteers who helped others during the coronavirus pandemic, and urged people to “show each other kindness, compassion, and love”.
Ms Sturgeon said 2021 can be Scotland’s “year of recovery” as COVID-19 vaccines are rolled out.
Hinting about a second vote, she said: “As we rebuild after this pandemic, we can, we must focus on making Scotland a fairer country and a greener country.
“And of course, towards the end of the year, the eyes of the world will be on Glasgow, and the COP 26 climate change summit – a gathering that has the potential to set the whole world on a path to a more sustainable future.
“So even as we reflect on this darkest of years, we can see light ahead.”
Responding to Mr Ross’s speech, SNP depute leader Keith Brown, added: “The only new year message Douglas Ross should be giving is an abject apology for he and his party’s complete betrayal of Scottish fishermen, their broken promises, and selling out of Scotland’s interests in the Brexit negotiations.
“It is now beyond doubt that the only way to protect Scotland’s people and interests is to become an independent country inside the EU.”