Monday, December 1, 2014

Do UKIP's threats to scupper the Smith package with an "Axis of EVEL" have the slightest credibility?

UKIP's David Coburn, aka "the Pride of Scotland", renowned for brilliant insights such as his claim a few months back that the No-supporting Herald is "an SNP paper", has now decreed that the Smith package is already "dead" because UKIP will block it if they hold the balance of power.  This does of course imply that UKIP are best-placed to hold the balance of power in the event of a hung parliament, as opposed to the reality of current seat projections which show them limping to a distant fifth place in the next House of Commons - behind both the SNP (who are projected to be in third place) and the Liberal Democrats (who are projected to be in fourth place).

But projections are only projections, and the relative fortunes of the parties could still change in the five months between now and the general election.  So what are the real chances of Coburn being able to thwart our dreams (ahem) of full Smith implementation?  To be fair, there have been a couple of individual polls in recent weeks putting UKIP well into the 20s, which would be enough to secure them more than 100 seats.  If that turned out to be the result, all bets would be off - UKIP would have a very real chance of being able to dictate government policy to a significant degree.  But the polls that pointed to that outcome look like outliers, so to get there Farage would probably have to gain a few extra percentage points of support, perhaps courtesy of his potential inclusion in the TV debates.  It's just about plausible that he could pull that off, but the nature of first-past-the-post elections means that it's almost all-or-nothing for him - if he fails to get UKIP well into the 20s, they're not only likely to fall short of 100 seats, but will probably have no more than 12.

It's not impossible to have a big say over government policy with only 10 or 12 seats, but the window of opportunity is extremely narrow.  The only way it could happen would be if the Tories are the largest single party, short of an overall majority, but only just short.  There's no way that UKIP can engineer that outcome - they'll be relying on pure luck.  And even if it does happen, it's quite likely that the Tories' first port of call would be the Liberal Democrats, and would only turn to UKIP as a last resort if negotiations with the Lib Dems fail.

So when you take all of the above factors together, I'd say that Coburn's chances of being able to carry out his threat are probably 10% at best.  Whether that's a good or a bad thing for the Scottish national movement is obviously open to debate.  After all, it's hard to think of anything more likely to produce a decisive surge in favour of independence than a Tory/UKIP "Axis of EVEL" denying Scotland what had been firmly promised only a few months earlier.

30 comments:

  1. alastair hutchisonDecember 1, 2014 at 7:02 AM

    I agree with above post however I believe we might see some individual Tory a Labour Candidates standing on a platform of blocking Smith unless EVEL is dealt with first or at least the same time.

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    1. That's possible, but there would still be a natural majority for Smith, because the bulk of Labour, Tory and Lib Dem MPs (plus all SNP MPs) will vote for it. The only way it can be blocked is if the Tories go into a deal with UKIP that requires them to vote against as a bloc.

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  2. And with FPTP you can have 20% of the vote and still end up with buggerall - just ask the LibDems. UKIP don't really have any geographical 'heartlands' like the Tory shires or Labour cities. Is their support spread evenly amongst the same disaffected bigots in every constituency where it will count for very little? The SNP on the other hand have historical areas of strength and some newer territories which they have pinched from Labour over the course of the referendum campaign. They are perhaps more likely to see their level of support reflected in seats than UKIP is.

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    1. Not quite true. All the seats that UKIP has a high chance of winning are Tory (bar one) seats along the eastern and south-eastern coast of England. Areas with a higher-than-average proportion of older, whiter voters in places that feel "left behind" by the "metropolitan elite".

      That said, UKIP is strong throughout much of England and Wales. Their weak spots are London, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and to a lesser extent, the West Midlands and the North-west. Regional polling shows UKIP over 20%, touching 30% in most areas of England outside London.

      UKIP will win many, many "close seconds" but in too few seats are they surpassing the 35% or so they need to win.

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  3. The unionist parties would be extremely daft if they were to brake their promise over Smith. Because they will not have a leg to stand on if another referendum takes place in the 2020s

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  4. Populus poll has SNP back in front in its sub-sample today. Pretty much in line with what they've been showing since the referendum, i.e. not as great a bump in SNP support. They also have pretty high figures for the Tories and LDs (perhaps due to greater 2010 weighting).

    SNP 34, Lab 29, Tory 21, LD 10 and UKIP 5.

    http://www.populus.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/OmOnline_Vote_01-12-2014_BPC.pdf

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  5. It would be difficult for UKIP to gain lots of seats and simultaneously for Tories to be largest party - unless we see a complete Labour collapse and UKIP hoovering up Labour seats. It is just the usual UKIP posturing for publicity.

    I doubt Smith will make it through Westminster unless the SNP hold the balance of power. Otherwise there is very little chance.

    Populous weights back to 2010 party ID which downweights SNP significantly.

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    1. I agree apart from Smith and Westminster. I believe Smith will come to pass unless LABOUR gets into power. The latter will stall and procrastinate and talk it out. So all the more reason to get SNP in and kick Labour out in Scotland.

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  6. It's kinda win-win for us. If UKIP fail, as I suspect they will, we can all breath happy at the knowledge that the UK isn't quite that stupid.
    If they succeed, and block Smith, that gives the SNP the excuse to push for a second referendum in their Holyrood manifesto.
    YES support would go through the roof with a Tory/UKIP government who have blocked Smith.

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  7. I doubt that UKIP will have a major breakthrough or be any position to dictate anything. They'll get a decent vote share, but it will be fair well distributed around England so they'll probably only a get a few MPs. A more likely scenario is that they'll help Labour sneak in. I think the Lib Dems will surprise many because, although we're all expecting their national vote share to plummet, they can be surprisingly resilient when it comes to holding onto what they have.

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  8. EVEL will do more for Scottish independence than the implementation of Smith.

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    1. I am currently musing on the implications not of EVEL but of (as Pete Wishart SNP MP put it) SCVL—Scottish votes for Scottish laws.

      This was originally enshrined in the AoU 1707 and has been quashed with vehemence – especially since the discovery of Scotlands resources ‘strangely’.

      What could the implications of such be ?

      SqueuedPerspextive

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  9. Thomas Docherty, Labour MP for Dunfermline and West Fife, said to pupils on a visit to Inverkeithing High school last Friday that the Smith Commission had gone too far.

    You don't need UKIP MPs to scupper the Smith package Scottish Labour MPs are obviously planning to do just that.

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  10. Based on recent analyses of Smith (see eg. Iain MacWhirter's column in the Sunday Herald), perhaps it wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing if it was ditched. Without job creating powers and therefore no reduction in the drift of younger earners to London and elsewhere, how will the SG maintain their revenue. The only upside is that the SG can be said to have more responsibility, though that is outweighed by the potential for Unionists to claim that any reduction in revenue (and therefore services?) is a reflection on the SG's inability to govern and is an excuse for transferring powers either back to WM, or, more likely, to local authorities.

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  11. I agree with Angry Weegie's argument, Iain MacWhirter's column on the SH painted the Smith Commission's proposals in a very sinister light. I hope the SNP go on to argue from his position.

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    1. I think the SNP are getting it right by taking a pro-Smith position, but arguing for it to be built upon. Taking a rejectionist stance would be a recipe for ending up with nothing at all.

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    2. Rejecting anything but independence (or full home rule) would also play into the unionist narrative that the SNP are impossible to deal with, "refuse to accept they lost the referendum", etc..

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  12. Since taxes cannot realistically be changed, the financial situation will be similar to having the block grant which is slowly declining due to cuts. Except this time, the unionists can blame the SNP for it.

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  13. Spot on Calum, I think that is the plan. "See we told you that you're, too wee, too poor and too stupid". I think we all know the rest...

    Jimnarlene

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  14. David Cameron's spin doctors are behind this statement, the the fond misbelief that there are potential UKIP voters in Scotland about to steal their sole Tory seat. It might have gone down better south of the border, if only the Tories could find some way of withholding something (apparently) beneficial to English voters if they voted UKIP.

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  15. I suspect that the Smith package, as presented, is a dead duck and I suspect that some of the parties already knew this when they put their names to it. But this has very little to do with the influence of UKIP. The problem is that the Smith package is not just an unprincipled hotchpotch: it is fundamentally contradictory.

    It wants to combine devolution of income tax powers to Scotland with a single class of MPs at Westminster. That is, Scottish MPs can vote on English income tax while English MPs can't vote on Scottish income tax. In principle this is an anti-democratic outrage and in practice I suspect it will be rejected by many English MPs of all parties. When it comes to a vote one plank or another will have to go. My bet is that Scotland will get its income tax devolved; it will also get some version of EVEL, and maybe additional goodies thrown in as a sop..

    From an independence viewpoint this may be no bad thing. To put it in cartoonishly simple terms, Smith leads to EVEL, EVEL leads to some kind of English Parliament (anything less is likely to be unworkable) and an English Parliament leads to the end of the union as we know it.

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  16. I find it interesting that concern about EU immigrants is strongest in areas where there are very few immigrants at all. In other words where people do not see for themselves and look to the MSM for information.

    I therefore think that UKIP might hold the balance of power (including going for EVEL and killing Smith) if the MSM decide to give them enough publicity.

    The MSM can also support UKIP with lots of stories about immigrants exploiting our system and the supposedly terrible things the EU does. Never mind it is all anecdotal and isn't actually true. If it will sell newspapers, they will do it.

    I had onejust such an article shown to me last week as "proof" of how dreadful EU migrants were. I'm afraid I responded that the only fact I trusted in a newspaper was the date, and that only after I had verified it on my mobile.

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    1. The problem is that a surge in votes for UKIP won't necessarily result in a significant number of seats, especially if those voted are widely distributed. FPTP will probably damage UKIP in this election.

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    2. e.g. today's corrected Ashcroft poll of Ed Miliband's constituency puts UKIP on 27%. That's pretty good but it's still >20 points behind Labour. UKIP will probably win lots of votes from frustrated Tories in the north of England that will amount to hee haw in terms of seats. Same problem that the SNP have traditionally had in central Scotland, until recently.

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  17. James,

    It would be interesting to hear what you think on Peter Kellner's article regarding uniform swing:

    https://yougov.co.uk/news/2014/12/01/uniform-swing-rip/

    First of all, how can a prediction model be devised UK-wide to take account of the Lib Dem decline and Ukip, while also taking into account factors such as incumbency?

    And secondly, given the changes in Scotland since 2010, how can we realistically apply the polls to the seats up for grabs in 2015? For example, using uniform swing, the SNP are more likely to take Glasgow North West than Glasgow East, which I think most people would agree is skewed.

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  18. So just how would the SNP pay for stuff with Brent crude at $70 a barrel and no hope of it rising as the US is determined to spike the Russkies by driving oil prices down and OPEC is sitting on its hands? :-)

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    1. Today's oil price means that US fracked oil is uneconomic. That is a situation which won't last. Don't forget that prices can go up as well as down.

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    2. WeSaidNoToYesMen

      Borrow money. Just like Westminster and every Government and person does until the good times return...and they will. Current low oil prices are but a blip in the long term growth of oil prices. (See attachment showing oil prices increasing over the long term from 1861.) And Independence would have been for 'ever'.

      Economic LAW. As commodities become scarcer and demand increases prices WILL increase:-

      file:///C:/Users/James%20Coleman/Desktop/Paint%20files/oil/long%20term%20historic%20oil%20prices.jpg

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  19. Oil goes down. Oil goes up. Oil goes up. Oil goes down.

    It has all happened before and it will all happen again. But in the long term, there is only one direction of oil price. Up.

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  20. By my understanding Barnett Formula changes are based on Departmental Expenditure Limits (DEL). How this affects Scotland is calculated by 3 factors-
    1) the amount of money allocated to the department eg Trade and Industry
    2) the percentage to which that is regarded as devolved eg Trade and Industry 18.6%
    3) the percentage of population in Scotland vs England (not rUK)
    The total Block Grant being the sum of (1) x (2) x (3) for each devolved department.

    In this respect we are seeing an ever increasing issue – while immigration to England increases we see an ever decreasing amount of Block Grant.

    My main point here is that England’s problem of 250k net inward migrations IS Scotlands problem. Population percentage directly affects (3) above. Which by my rough estimates is costing in excess of £100m per year.

    I am uncertain how the re-categorisation of expenditure (by Smith Commission) actually would (if at all) affect the Block Grant, but one thing is certain (sorry if I am preaching to the choir) we need to cut loose from the growing elephant.

    SqueuedPerspextive

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