Nick Tyrone Nick Tyrone

Why are so many Labour supporters keeping shtum about Sturgeon?

(Getty images)

What now for Nicola Sturgeon? Labour MP Jess Phillips isn’t sitting on the fence. ‘At best Nicola Sturgeon was unprofessional with those women’s lives; at worst, she misled parliament,’ Phillips told Question Time viewers last night. Keir Starmer has also said Scotland’s First Minister must go if she did indeed break the ministerial code in the course of the Alex Salmond saga. But why are so many others in the Labour ranks unwilling to speak out against the SNP?

Sturgeon’s departure is, after all, in the Labour party’s best interests. In two months’ time, Labour will be looking to take seats from the SNP at the Scottish election. And, politics aside, given the gravity of the situation, it’s not hard to make the case that this should be a resigning matter. Yet too many on the left appear to be happy to turn a blind eye in a way they would never do if it was a Tory politician at fault.

Why is this? Perhaps the fear of criticising the SNP stems from worrying about alienating swing voters on the left? Or are Labour activists unwilling to interrupt a politician who seeks to make Boris’s life difficult? Whatever the reason, this Salmond saga – and the lack of fallout which has resulted from it in Labour circles – makes it clear that there is a sort of collective omerta among Labour types when it comes to the SNP.

For Labour, this strange refusal to go to war with the SNP has consistently backfired

The current First Minister has been seen as one of the good guys by the English left since she took up her post. If you doubt this is true, think back to the glowing reviews of Sturgeon from portions of the left-wing press during the 2015 general election campaign, particularly when her performances at the television debates were drooled over.

‘Three women against some public schoolboys,’ a Guardian headline read, referencing Sturgeon, Leanne Wood and Natalie Bennett.

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