Monday, 10 May 2010

UK General Election 2010: In Scotland the Politics of Fear Prevail

There are currently 650 Constituency seats in the Westminster Parliament in London. A Member of Parliament (MP) is elected for one of these seats if he/she receives the most votes in the Constituency in which they seek election (First Past The Post or Simple Majority method of voting).

The results for the Scottish National Party (SNP) might possibly be described as a '1997 moment'. In the 1997 General Election the Tories (Conservative Party) were 'wiped out' in Scotland and most of the anticipated rise in the vote for the SNP stalled and went to the Labour Party, but it was the extent to which electoral support in England turned to the Labour Party that resulted in a Labour Government.

A rise in the number of Tory MP's and the corresponding fall in the number of Labour MP's in England has resulted in a 'hung parliament' (no single Party has an outright majority) necessitating the need for an accommodation with the Liberal Democrats (LD) in order to get a majority and form a government. To get a majority and form a government a Party or a combination of Parties must have at least 326 seats.

In Scotland there is an automatic fear of a Tory government (especially because of the depredations of Tory governments in the 1980's and early 1990's) and this fear is often used by the Labour Party to persuade people that they should vote for it - even though doing so would not have any effect on the outcome of an election where Tory gains in England were greater than the number of Westminster seats in Scotland.

'Darling concedes cuts could be tougher than 1980s

Alistair Darling has conceded that if Labour is re-elected public spending cuts will be "tougher and deeper" than those implemented by Margaret Thatcher.'

"There may be things that we don't do, that we cut in the future."


NOTE: Election in 1 constituency has been deferred until 27 May due to death of a candidate.


In terms of seats there is no change on 2005.

LAB258 - 41 + 59 =276
CON306 - 1 =305
LD57 - 11 =46
OTHERS28 - 6 = 22


Whilst the Conservatives could obtain a majority with the support of the Liberal Democrats, Labour would require the support of the Lib Dems AND other Parties to do so. A Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition would have a greater majority than a Labour/Liberal Democrat/Others one would. A pact would not enable a majority government to be formed but would be an arrangement, in return for certain concessions, whereby junior parties to such an arrangement would abstain from parliamentary votes in which a minority government faced possible defeat.

Currently the election of an overall majority of SNP MP's to Westminster in a UK General Election would constitute a mandate for the negotiation of the withdrawal of Scottish MP's from Westminster and the dissolution of the Treaty of Union of 1707 resulting in Scotland regaining its independence. The current number of MP's elected from Scotland is 59. A mandate for Scottish independence would be gained with the election of 30 SNP MP's.


Anonymous said...

Dudeistan here (made two posts on the Washington Post yesterday) before yours.

The break up of the UK clearly has many potential drawbacks, but on balance it is likely to better than maintaining the status quo.

It would certainly challenge the political set up in Northern Ireland. Unfortunately it would most likely consign Wales (my allegiance) to another five hundred years of English dominance.

However, that is by the by. I can understand that many Scots adopt the default position that better the devil you know than the one you don't. Scotland is not suffering like Greece or Mozambique so why take a chance on the unknown, i.e. independence.

However, i think any sensible analyst would recognise that Scotland could well aspire to countries like Norway and achieve quite a dynamic economy on their own. Who cares if Scotland is no longer part of Britain's big international status. Who needs that (Iraq being a case in point)?

I hope - and I know this sounds cynical - that the Tories really upset the Scottish people enough for them to say 'We're not putting up with this anymore, come on lets stand on our own two feet!'.

NealVassallæ°´æ…§ said...
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Anonymous said...

There is more to the political changes in Scotland than is first seen. In 2010, the fear factor of 'vote Labour or you get tory' really came into play, and was used to push the Labour vote in Scotland.

This notion of 'vote labour in Scotland or get a tory government' was one of the main features of the general election process in Scotland during most recent history, indeed, even in the 60's and 70's my mother would tell me, the only reason she never voted SNP, was because 'that would let the Tories into 10 Downing street'.

Wind the clock forward to 2010, and many people believed that now there is a Scottish parliament, this 'fear factor' would be diminshed, but the results from May 2010 show us otherwise.

But looking from another perspective - the glass half full, rather than half empty - politics and political discussion in Scotland have changed significantly, especially within the last three years of an SNP Scottish Government. Subtle changes, happening step by step, day by day, whereby parties opposed to independence are referred to by the very pro union BBC, as 'unionist parties'. There is less discussion of Britain, and more of Scotland or England.

The political discourse has definitely shifted, albeit often held back by a very pro-unionist print media and state broadcaster, the BBC, in Scotland.

All of these changes are a very new way in which politics are viewed in Scotland.

Indeed in many ways, the drift of Scotland towards ending London rule with or without the SNP, has progressed further than many expected. This has now led to our current state of play, where a new Conservative Prime Minister, regards Scotland as sufficiently important, that he travelled up to Edinburgh to meet with the First Minister of Scotland within three days of taking office.

Scotland with an SNP Government is now able to shape events in a way which would previously have never been imagined.

The new Government in London is cautious to proceed via consensus with the Scottish Government rather than antagonism, unlike the previous London Labour Government under Gordon Brown.

Famously, the Prime minister, Gordon Brown, was so incensed at his party, Labour, losing control of the Scottish Parliament to the SNP in 2007, he never once had an official meeting with the First Minister.

In the Scottish Parliament, there is a weekly session, called questions to the First Minister, rather like prime ministers questions at Westminster. Every week, the leader of the Conservatives in the Scottish Parliament starts with the question; 'will the First Minister outline what plans he has to meet with the Prime Minister', and for THREE years, the response from the Scottish First Minister has been; 'There are no plans to meet with the Prime Minister'.

With the new Conservative Prime minister in office after May 6th, everyone watched this question with interest, and for the first time in three years, the First Minister, Alex Salmond confirmed that he would be meeting the Prime Minister within a few days.

Throughout history, around the globe, Independence has sometimes been won quickly, or has taken many, many years. At present in Scotland it is nowadays very hard to justify why Scotland still needs to be run by England. Perhaps there was a time when the Union was beneficial, but really it is not as important as it once was.

So as regards Scottish independence, most now accept, it is not a question of 'if', but rather a question of 'when'.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

It is no use crying over spilt milk.......................................................................