Nicola Sturgeon has said the “kindness and solidarity” learned during the coronavirus crisis should be brought to the Scottish independence debate.
The first minister said both sides of Scotland’s political divide could be more polite to each other when the constitutional battle heats up after the pandemic.
She made her remarks at her daily coronavirus briefing when asked about a weekend Panelbase poll putting support for independence at 54%.
Asked if a commitment to a second referendum would be put in the SNP’s manifesto for next year’s Scottish election, Ms Sturgeon said the purpose of the briefing was to discuss Covid-19 and not “other issues”.
The first minister said she would not talk about elections and manifestos and would not be influenced by politics or the constitution when taking decisions about the virus.
“The only thing that matters to me is trying to get through this as safely as possible, minimising the loss life as much as we possibly can,” Ms Sturgeon said.
Hopefully maybe being a bit more polite to each other – learning the lessons of kindness and solidarity that have been taught to us through this pandemic.”
But she added that she looked forward to the resumption of politics and constitutional debate “because it will mean the pandemic is over and we can get on to these debates rigorously and in a normal way – hopefully maybe being a bit more polite to each other – learning the lessons of kindness and solidarity that have been taught to us through this pandemic.”
She added: “But for now that’s not what drives my decisions and it is not going to be what drives my decisions. I’m afraid that’s just the long and short of it.”
Pamela Nash, chief executive of the pro-UK campaign group Scotland in Union, said: “When nationalists are shouting abuse at drivers from England and poisoning social media, it appears that many of Nicola Sturgeon’s supporters are choosing to ignore her.
“The first minister is right that her focus should remain on the coronavirus pandemic – but even when the immediate public health risk is over we are facing years of economic recovery.
“That’s why instead of dividing Scotland once again by reigniting a constitutional debate that will inevitably lead to tensions between Scots, the Scottish Government’s entire focus should remain on recovering from the coronavirus crisis and working together in the interests of everyone in Scotland.”