Tensions between Scottish independence advocates and unionists appears to be rising as Alba Party leader Alex Salmond takes aim at the Royal Family. This week, he warned the Queen and the Royal Family they must stay out of the debate about Scottish independence. But scrutiny is firmly on First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who has been questioned over the logistics of Scottish secession.
GB News chairman and journalist Andrew Neil has emerged as one of the most high profile critics of the Scottish government since leaving the BBC.
When the Salmond-Sturgeon row was in the ascendancy in January, he tweeted that he would “fight back” against the Scottish National Party (SNP).
He said: “Scotland is awash with government-inspired gags on the media, vital documents redacted, important evidence/submissions censored or buried.
“Multiple threats pouring out from legal authorities. Even at The Spectator. I think it’s time to fight back. Watch this space”.
Spanish newspaper Euro Weekly exclaimed that Mr Neil had “declared war” on the SNP.
In a statement about the impending new channel, Mr Neil added: “GB News is the most exciting thing to happen in British television news for more than 20 years. We will champion robust, balanced debate and a range of perspectives on the issues that affect everyone in the UK, not just those living in the London area.”
He added: “We’ve seen a huge gap in the market for a new form of television news. GB News is aimed at the vast number of British people who feel underserved and unheard by their media.”
Mr Neil has been vocal on Ms Sturgeon’s government in recent months – claiming in November that Scotland has “stagnated in mediocrity”.
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Writing for the MailOnline, he said devolution had been “a huge disappointment” and added that Edinburgh had “built something close to a one-party state”.
Mr Neil continued: “It has hardly been a success. As a result of this remorseless expansion by the state, Scotland is now one of the most over-governed, bureaucratised countries in the Western world.”
The journalist also mentioned Scotland’s education downturn.
He said: “SNP governance has disappointed in many respects but perhaps most of all in education, for which Scotland used to be world famous.
“For a long time, Scotland had a proud tradition of social mobility, where high standards and expectations in schools helped to ensure that bright but poor kids could overcome the disadvantages of their backgrounds.”
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Despite some of the criticism directed at the Scottish leader, the SNP still won the Scottish elections in May, falling just one seat short of a majority.
But Ms Sturgeon still has work to do to convince Scotland to back independence, polls suggest.
A poll published in March highlighted just how divided Scotland is on the monarchy.
A survey commissioned by Sky News found that 39 percent of voters would support the Royal Family retaining their traditional role if the UK was break-up, while 39 percent said a Scottish republic should be created – 22 percent said they didn’t know.
Support for the Queen and her successors is highest amongst those who would vote No at any future referendum, with 54 percent saying they backed the monarchy, 22 percent in favour of a republic, and 24 percent being undecided.
The idea of creating a republic north of the border was supported by 56 percent of Yes voters, with 30 percent backing the monarchy and 15 percent saying they don’t know.