Wednesday 28 February 2007

Don't mention the Scottish play

On May 3rd the Electors of Scotland will elect the third Scottish Parliament.
What no one seems to want to talk about is how the result of that is going to impact upon the rest of the UK.

Crushed by Ingsoc intends to publish a more accutate breakdown of what we think will happen closer to the day, but for now, we are going to just have a prelimary look at the implications.

Currently Scotland is governed by a Labour/Lib Dem coalition.
Labour have 50 seats, the Lib Dems 17, out of 129 seats.
The logic of the coalition is simple, Labour need a partner with 15 seats or more and the Lib Dems are the easiest to work with.
For The Lib Dems, they want to be in government.
But if the two of them lose three seats or more between the, this coalition as it stands, is no lomger an option.

Now my analysis suggests that due to Labour monopoly on central belt seats, Labour may hold up better than the polls suggest. I will explain the dynamics of this closer to the time, with a breakdown of Scotland's battleground seats and an analsis of the Regional vote.
With Dennis Canavan gone, I suspect Labour might be only five or six seats down. Conversely, I think the LDs may pick up an extra regional seat or two. But Labour 45, LD 19 is one seat too few. The only option to retain the coalition is to bring in the Greens, who should at least hold the seven seats they have, plus I suspect they may rise to nine.

But will the LDs or the Greens want to sign up again to a party that the electorate have shown unhappiness with?
That was put Jeremy Thorpe off backing Heath in February 1974, if you recall.
There is another option. If the SNP rise to 37 or so- which, they may well do as the warring fragments of the SSP fight eachother, then 37+19+9=65. The Magic number.
Good God. The bogeyman no one wanted to consider. But what deal would make such a coalition work?
There is one.
The SNP want an independent Scotland. The LDs don't. The SNP want a referendum at a time when they can win, the LDs would accept win, if they thought it would be a No.
The SNP would love a referendum AFTER a Cameron victory in the South, the LDs would love one after a Tory?LD coalition is formed in the South.
So the deal may be, Referendum 2010, with both parties gambling on the outcome.

Now these are the wider issues which no one on the politics show seems to have spotted.
Blair won't be gone before May.
With the SNP in government in Scotland, how could an MP with a Scottish seat credibly become PM south of the border?
The English electorate- and more to the point, the English Labour party would have grave misgivings.
Problem is, no one else wants the poisoned chalice of being the PM who leads Labour to certain defeat, not in this era where one shot is all Political parties seem to get. Why do you think everyone wants to be deputy leader?
So that after cetain defeat, they are best placed to become leader in a new, Blairism free, realignment of the left.
But if Brown still becomes leader, it will hurt Labour at the 2009/10 Westminster election worse than now seems apparent. It will be a Catch 22 for leading Labour figures.
The only politician daft enough and with nothing to lose by volunteering is probably the loathsome member for Norwich South.

The other point is the distinct lack of pro -Union noises recently from the Tories. Again, the reason is mathematical. If Cameron is a few seats short of a majority and needs the LDs with him, he will be only too happy for a Yes vote in an Independence referendum.
Then he can call a fresh election going in to it with a notional majority, even on no change from the 2009/10 election. If Cameron is 26 seats short in 2009/10, say, the removal of Scotland gives him a notional majority of 31 before the elecorate even go to vote again.

Keep looking north. I'm not saying all this will come to pass, only it might.


Anonymous said...

I know nothing about politics north of the border; I have an instinctive belief in and love for the union (despite my republican ancestors)but I can see what you predict coming to pass. It wouldn't be entirely bad either, but I'd be disappointed. I'd rather the Scots went by overwhelming public vote, though, instead of by political stitch up.

Anonymous said...

A full electoral analysis of Scottish and Welsh elections will appear here late March/early April, about the time I take my prediction down to Ladbrokes.
Most politics is stitch up.
Look at the reform of the Lords- such as it is. Things stumble on there, where they'll go nobody lnows.
Politics is the art of the possible.
Not the principled.
Look at the shabby deals that got Hitler to power.

Anonymous said...

mmmm...and don't forget the "encouragement" he gave to people through the half a million or whatever lovely and polite SA men who were only too happy to explain why voting National Socialist was a good idea. The sheer amount of political violence carried out by the SA after 1923 rather gives the lie to ideas that Hitler did it all legally before 1933.

Politics is the art of whatever politicians want to achieve.

Anonymous said...

Political violence in that era was only too common. Not so much in England, but certainly in most of Europe and of course, the USA. Semi-paramilitary adjuncts to political parties were the Norm. Woe betide Republican voters in the deep south in the 30s.
France also, intimidation between the two polarities was common. In Ireland North and South, poltical supporters were usually armed and uniformed.
In fact political uniforms were seen in the 20s as 'modern'