How SNP Inquiry By MSPs Has Hit Scottish Politics Betting Odds
Nicola Sturgeon looks set to remain as Scotland’s First Minister and the head of the Scottish National Party after coming out of an eight-hour grilling over the Alex Salmond inquiry with her head held high.
But the impact the political scandal has had on Scottish politics could derail the SNP’s hopes of triggering a second independence referendum this year.
And while Sturgeon’s own position at the head of the party seems secure, the public fractions within the SNP appears to have affected their popularity among voters.
The SNP has been embroiled in infighting since sexual harassment allegations were made against former leader Salmond back in 2018, and he was charged with sexual assault a year later, for which he was cleared of all charges.
The SNP had conducted an investigation into the earlier sexual harassment allegations put towards Salmond, the process of which a court found was unlawful.
A recent inquiry by MSPs has looked into how the government handled those allegations and, most recently, whether Sturgeon breached the ministerial code by, as the BBC report, “interfering with the civil service investigation into the allegations, or by lying to parliament.”
In a grilling by the committee Sturgeon was quizzed about what she knew of the Salmond allegations when they first came to light, and when.
And regardless of how this ends, the latest political betting odds suggest the inquiry has damaged the SNP’s reputation.
Could Sturgeon Quit?
Ahead of the inquiry there were growing calls for Sturgeon to quit as SNP leader. Opposition parties claimed there were 38 instances in which she breached the ministerial code, with accusations that she mislead the Scottish people made by Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross.
But Sturgeon doesn’t look likely to quit over the issue. After surviving the questioning at Holyrood her odds of remaining as First Minister into 2022 shortened to 1/3, while the price of her being ousted or quitting the role this year rose to 9/4. That gives an implied probability of 75% that Sturgeon will remain head of the SNP into next year.
However, while her footing within the party doesn’t seem to have slipped, confidence in the SNP and their independence push seems to have taken a wobble.
Next Scottish Referendum Date
Indeed, it appears as though the chances of a second independence referendum taking place in 2021 have collapsed. A vote this year is now priced at 6/1 with Ladbrokes, while IndyRef2 being held in 2022 has come in to 3/1.
Notably the favourite date for when the next independence referendum will be held remains post-2025, at Evens. That reveals just how confident bettors are that Scotland isn’t going to vote on their membership of the union any time soon.
What’s more, those odds have shifted after fresh polling from IpsosMORI revealed a six-point swing among voters towards staying in the UK. While the Scottish nationalists still have a 52-48 per cent lead in the polls, the swing back to No suggests the appetite for independence has waned.
And that is also reflected in the odds, with ‘No’ now the 8/11 favourite outcome after bettors piled in on the market in the wake of the poll.
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