Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Fear and Loathing at Westminster


The Spectre of Scotland;

No Party to achieve majority
in General Election;

Cameron blusters, Miliband flusters,
UKIP musters;

The British general election campaign is now in full swing with the parties vying for power with the usual lies, false promises, boasts of non-achievements and accusations of incompetence in one against the other in what is usually referred to as democracy.

One major factor this time is the certain return of former Scotland First Minister, Alex Salmond, to the London Parliament most likely accompanied by at least 40 or more of his Scottish National Party (SNP) comrades. This is bad news for British Labour Party leader Ed Miliband, as the seats Mr Salmond is hoping to bag are all Labour seats! This means that Labour is unlikely to gain the majority they were hoping for, taking for granted that the Scottish seats at Westminster would come their way, as usual in previous British elections.

The Spectre of Scotland ;

The hostages to fortune laid by the Westminster parties during last September's Scottish independence referendum are now haunting their election campaigns. The insults, threats and bullying of the Scottish electorate and many allegations of vote rigging during the referendum count (see sidebar link) are now up for the calculated vengance of the frustrated Scottish voters who supported Independence and will impact more on Labour than anyone else.

Recent polling in Scotland suggests there will be a historic SNP landslide in the May election that would grievously damage Ed Miliband’s chances of leading Labour back to power. Mr Salmond is relishing the prospect of returning to Westminster in the vanguard of a greatly strengthened SNP group. Mr Salmond resigned as leader of the SNP after September’s independence referendum defeat and was succeeded by his deputy, Nicola Sturgeon. The SNP’s membership has increased five-fold since the referendum and is now touching 100,000. Ms Sturgeon's performance in last week's televised Leaders' Debate, her first real exposure to English voters, enhanced her and the SNP's standing considerably. 

Publication last November of the report by the Smith Commission on devolving more powers to the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh has added further impetus to the SNP bandwagon. Nationalists feel the Smith recommendations fall well short of the “significant” new powers promised by UK party leaders after the referendum. YouGov samples of 1,103 people in Scotland have the SNP leading Labour by 46% to 26%, with the Tories on 14% and the Liberal Democrats on 6%.
Smith Commission Report

If Mr Salmond takes the Gordon seat, he will be entering Westminster for the second time. He represented Banff and Buchan between 1987 and 2010, including three years in which he was both MP and MSP for the constituency. The pattern of polling in Scotland indicates that Mr Salmond would be in the vanguard of an SNP group that could have more than 30-40 MPs. Mr Salmond reiterated SNP policy not to enter a UK coalition government led by the Conservatives in the event of a hung parliament. He said: “My preferred option would be to see Labour win but fall around 20-25 seats short of a working majority. I would want the SNP to be able to force Labour to agree not to renew Trident (Britain's massively expensive and obsolete nuclear submarine fleet) in Scotland, devolve the setting of the minimum wage to Holyrood (Scotland's Parliament) and agree to give Scotland some responsibility for its own immigration policy.” “I am the only politician in the UK to have led a minority government, which I did between 2007 and 2011, so I know, from difficult experience, how to make the pips squeak,” he said.

Meanwhile, a separate poll for YouGov carried out throughout November of 18-24-year-olds further lays bare Labour’s problems in Scotland. While Labour leads across the UK, in Scotland they trail third behind the SNP and Greens, with 48% backing the SNP, the Greens in second place on 15% and Labour just one percentage point ahead of the Tories on 14%.

Outflanking the Tories on the right is the anti-EU, anti-immigration United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) which has already stolen three prominent MP's from Cameron's ranks in the House of Commons and has set its sights on several vulnerable "marginal" seats in constituencies where the Tory majority is less than 2,000. Polling at 14% currently, UKIP is likely to deprive Cameron of a majority in this election in England as the SNP is doing to Labour in Scotland.

Cameron was in Northern Ireland today where he visited the Belfast studios in which the popular TV series "Game of Thrones" is filmed, an irony not lost on the media as the Prime Minister's "throne" in London is slipping from his grasp on a daily basis. He fudged media questions on his Government's cutbacks in welfare funding for Northern Ireland, an area heavily dependent on subsidies from London and where the tensions within the devolved power-sharing administration between the Sinn Fein nationalist united Ireland party and the
pro-UK Democratic Unionist Party have risen seriously as a result of Cameron's blundering response to the opposition to his welfare cuts. The Northern Ireland Westminster seats will most likely result in the same division as before between Sinn Fein and the Unionists and in a no-majority House of Commons, Cameron might have to do a dirty deal with the DUP if he wants to remain Prime Minister of Great Britain. Sinn Fein MP's won't have any part of this as their representatives don't attend the House of Commons in London.

Cameron's deliberate scaremongering of the return of Alex Salmond to Westminster as a destabilising factor in British politics and his accusations that Miliband and Labour are plotting a secret deal with the SNP to oust the Tory-Liberal coalition has been totally counter-productive as these scare stories have only increased support in Scotland for the SNP as the pro-Independence voters smell a chance of sweet vengance on Cameron for his anti-independence campaign in last year's referendum.

No comments: