Sunday, 14 May 2017

24 Days out.

So, three and a half weeks to go and in my fourth election blog I thought I might take a bit of stock in relation to the election in Scotland. I might write later in the week regarding the UK contest but for the moment I will only observe that its strategic outcome is clear, The Tories will win with a significantly improved majority and that in itself will impact on Scotland.

But to Scotland itself?

Let's consider each of the players in turn.

The SNP.

They are clearly on the defensive. All talk of seeking a mandate for a second referendum mandate at this poll has disappeared. Let's not forget that, less than a month ago, one of the speculated "next moves" by Nicola, following the Prime Minister's rejection of a second independence referendum, would have been to get all her Westminster MPs to resign and seek re-election on that specific premise. Now they have been "resigned" by Theresa May, whether they wanted it or not, it is clear that the 56 will not be back. The only question is how many will. I will say more about that below.

The Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party.

At one time known as "The Tories" but now at least as well known as "Ruth Davidson". There are two sorts of "Unionist" in Scotland. There are those of us who belong, for other reasons, to Parties whose philosophy logically support the union. Labour, Lib, Tory. Who knows, who possibly even owe allegiance to the "Supporting Christ's Lordship Party" who did, after all, beat the Trot-Nats at the last Holyrood poll. 

But there is a second sort of unionist. One who is not Labour or Lib or even Tory. One who is just a unionist. Who believe you can eat one flag just as surely as Nicola's troops believe you could eat another. And they are (very much only) part of Ruth's core constituency. Because the Libs are above all a European Party and Labour is currently led by an SNP volunteer who, in one of her many inadvertent "errors",  declared that she might, in certain circumstance,  even support independence herself.  

Ruth is, to borrow a phrase, strong and stable on the Union. So these votes are hers. To what result is again a point to which I return.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats.

Their problem, bluntly, is that they should be doing better. They should take Edinburgh West and East Dunbarton. North East Fife is another matter to which I will return but in the three West Highland and Island seats they are the only viable challengers and I fear they are not really challenging. In none of these seats did the Nats get 50% last time but they could hang on if they poll in the mid thirties unless the Libs can get their act together. If only Charlie Kennedy was living at this hour.

Scottish Labour

Despite the best efforts of Kezia Dugdale, who spent part of last week campaigning in Stornoway (!), stopping only on the way to give an interview to the Guardian once again talking down our prospects, we are in this. Not everywhere but in certain places. I'm not giving these away but it's not difficult to work them out if you look at the local government results. And the Tory surge notwithstanding, they remain uncompetitive in much of urban Scotland. Even Corbynism (if not Corbyn personally) might help us here. There is a section of the electorate who have persuaded themselves that the SNP is to the left of the Labour Party. That is simply unsustainable at this election, a problem compounded by the SNP, wary of the Tory surge, being unlikely to produce a manifesto even pretending to be a left wing Party. So, lets wait and see.

The Problem.

The problem is first past the post. In 1983, Labour got (only) 35.1% of the vote in Scotland. Yet we still got 41 out of 72 seats. The problem with the Tory surge might be its very success in confusing unionist voters as to what they need to do to get the Nats out. North East Fife is but one example of that. In the end we need information. Last time, Lord Ashcroft did us all a public service with his constituency polls. Maybe we should be appealing to him to dip into his deep pockets once again.

And that's all for the moment.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Ian

    I very very rarely comment on stuff online but I've got a bit of a dillema and reading this piece and others like it are helping me edge closer to clarity.

    The labour party's not perfect and rarely aligns with my personal politics but I think the worst Labour government will still be 100x better than the best Tory one regardless of whose in charge.

    I also really really really do not want another independence referendum. I, like most no voters I know, made up my mind on the day after the SNP won their majority in 2011 and have heard nothing that would make me change my mind since. I think that independence is a bad idea that would solve none of Scotland's problems while creating a host of new ones.I'm also happy and content to be British.

    I am furious that the no vote of the 18th of September 2014 has been treated since the 19th of September as a only a provisional no - particularly given the length and tone of the campaign leading up to the vote . I believed the first minister when he said it was a once in a generation opportunity (As well as making prodigious use of the phrase i could have sworn he signed an agreement saying the same...)

    I think the country is a worse place for going through the 2014 campaign but as recently as 2015 I would not have had the constitution down as a primary motivator in voting, but until this dangerous nonsense is finally beaten it seems it has to be.

    I live in Glasgow North so it should be an easy choice for me : vote Pam cos she's got the best chance of beating the Nat Pats (as well as ya know, being a better candidate) - however Labour's, or perhaps should that be more accurately Kezia Dugdale's, inability to be convincing on the union is making me wonder, particularly as i share your puzzlement why a party that has clearly "held on" in the last few elections continues to act like losing is all they know how to do.

    I only have one vote to make a statement, and am finding Effie Dean's recent arguement in favour of voting Tory to make that statement quite convinving. FPTP means the SNP will hold onto most of the seats in Scotland (though i am definitely staying up for Perth and North Perthsire) but a big swing to an unashamed Unionist party cant possibly be ignored can it?

    Urgh being a left leaning British patriot in Glasgow is tough!