It’s no wonder she continued to receive standing ovations from audiences captivated by her haunting rhetoric and a vision of Scotland as an independent nation in solidarity with Ukraine as it stands up to the invasion of Vladimir Putin, the people of Iran rising up against their tyrannical rulers, and the girls in Afghanistan who simply want the right to education.
On the home front, she has offered a progressive, compassionate and social democratic agenda that will appeal to the vast majority of Scots, whom she has repeatedly opposed to the regressive policies and chaotic mismanagement of the Truss government.
For those who weren’t yet convinced by the idea of independence, it was perhaps difficult not to imagine what it would be like, to allow themselves to dream the same dream.
However, for all the Prime Minister has talked about a good game, it’s worth remembering that it’s the game that really matters.
And, on this front, the record of the Scottish government in recent years has been dismal.
The inability of the Scottish state-owned shipyard to build two ferries, even remotely, on time and within budget, has become emblematic of the SNP’s failure to deliver on its grand promises.
In his speech, Sturgeon explained how a right to healthcare, free at the point of delivery, would be enshrined in Scotland’s newly independent constitution.
However, a law introduced by the Scottish government in 2012 which guaranteed the legal right to treatment within 12 weeks for a number of conditions had been broken more than 100,000 times in 2018 – long before Covid.
Pressure on NHS staff had increased with a severe vacancy crisis when the pandemic hit, and doctors and nurses made it clear they were now close to breaking point.
Speech by Nicola Sturgeon: SNP leader pledges £20bn ‘energy fund’ to fund…
Similarly, Scottish teachers, who are due to vote for a pay strike from tomorrow, have long expressed deep dissatisfaction with their working conditions, despite Nicola Sturgeon’s promise that education would be her priority when she will become prime minister.
So while the rhetoric may sound good, the reality has turned out to be drastically different in too many cases to ignore.
Despite all the chaos in Westminster under the calamitous Truss and the ongoing Brexit disaster, anyone thinking of voting for independence has no choice but to use the real time SNP in government as a way to extrapolate what life would be like in a new nation.
Some may get carried away by Sturgeon’s warm words, but others will need much more evidence of what might be called Scottish government ‘success stories’ before they take the huge gamble of independence. .
At a time of chaos and instability in the world, embarking on such a big upheaval would necessarily add more to people’s lives in Scotland.
Leaving the European Union, erecting barriers to trade and the movement of people, has been bad for our economy and life in general, but ‘Scexit’ would be a Brexit on stilts, especially since our departure from the British union would not be matched by entry into the European Union for several years at least. We currently take for granted many of the achievements and benefits of the Union, which Sturgeon understandably overlooked in his speech, but we would miss them.
Interestingly, however, Sturgeon’s speech on the “independence generation” sounded like an attempt to alter the timeline of his supporters’ expectations. It was not the speech of a leader expecting a referendum victory in just over a year, but rather that of a leader who is preparing to lead a long campaign.
All in all, it was a good speech, especially compared to Truss’ tentative delivery, but one that may not resonate for long.