Sunday, April 26, 2015

Miliband attempts the Harold Wilson strategy - but without Wilson's winning hand

To the best of my knowledge, today marks the first time that Ed Miliband has explicitly "ruled out" a confidence-and-supply deal with the SNP, as opposed to a full coalition.  (I'm using inverted commas, because at this stage in the game we can't completely exclude the possibility that he's making a Clegg Promise, one that he'll happily break and then "apologise for having had no choice but to break it".)  He's now left himself in a very unhealthy position if he's looking to form a stable government - the chances of Labour winning an absolute majority are microscopically small, and so his only remaining hope is that he might just scrape enough seats to give a potential Labour-Lib Dem-SDLP arrangement a small working majority (which ironically would include a party committed to "breaking up the United Kingdom"!).

In the more likely scenario that a stable Labour-led government is not possible without the SNP, what is Miliband's strategy for governing?  It seems that he's getting very close to the impossibly stubborn message that Harold Wilson sent out when the 1974 election resulted in a hung parliament : "we won't do deals, we'll just govern".  Remarkably, that strategy worked for Wilson, but he had several advantages that Miliband either won't have or may not have -

1) He didn't have to contend with the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, and knew he could call a snap second election at the most favourable moment.

2) He was personally popular, and once he had got himself into power after the February election, people wanted him to stay there.

3) He had the supposed 'legitimacy' of leading the largest single party in the Commons.

It's quite possible that Miliband will be a personally unpopular Prime Minister, seeking to govern without the unofficial 'legitimacy' that comes from leading the largest party or from signing a formal deal that demonstrates he has more parliamentary support than the Tories, and without the clear option of calling a snap election in the unlikely event that a favourable moment presents itself.

Doesn't sound too promising, does it?  Labour haven't realised it yet, but they may well be pining for a deal with the SNP before this year is out.

*  *  *

The Panelbase datasets are now out, and a couple of things leap out at me.  Firstly, when asked to make a straight choice between a Labour-led and a Conservative-led government, Yes voters overwhelmingly prefer Labour, while No voters are virtually split down the middle (47% favour the Tories).  This once again demonstrates the indescribable idiocy of a Labour strategy that effectively says "we only want No voters" by aggressively opposing fiscal autonomy for Scotland.

Secondly, it's once again the case that people currently planning to vote SNP are more likely to have firmly made up their minds than anyone else, making it much harder to see where the Labour fightback is going to come from.  That said, it's probably worth being a touch sceptical about any kind of "certainty to vote" question in an online poll, because volunteer online polling panels contain a disproportionate number of politically committed people.

39 comments:

  1. Sorry to ask this again as it has probably been asked before. Do we have any numbers yet on the numbers of postal vote applications for Scotland as a whole?

    I keep hunting but the only figure I have heard so far is that there has been c 25,000 applications for Dundee East and West.

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  2. Seems a tad high for one constituency. Are they handing them to shoppers outside Tesco?

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  3. From what I gather the postal votes will be under unprecedented scrutiny this time around so hell mend anyone expecting any 'funny business' to go unnoticed or not properly investigated.

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    1. Not before time. The deputy high court judge down in England who officiated at the recent proceedings against the mayor of Tower Hamlets concludes that postal voting (as presently set up) has encouraged electoral fraud to grow on an "industrial scale". :-(.

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  4. Sorry misread your post.

    Still 25k out of a 130k electorate would seem pretty astounding. If true, jiggery pokery is very afoot.

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    1. No, it sounds about right. Postal voting ran at around 15-20% of the electorate in 2010. e.g. the blogger below says it ranged between 16% and 25% in the six Cornish seats last time.

      https://psephologyfromtheperiphery.wordpress.com/2015/04/26/the-sealed-train-election/

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  5. Miliband's comments today on not even having a confidence and supply arrangement with the SNP are stupid. Christ he bends over as soon as the MSM put him under any kind of a pressure. Does this guy even want to be PM?

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    1. If you read Iain Macwhirter's article in the Sunday Herald today I think you'll discover the thinking behind Miliband's strategy.

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    2. 'Thinking' might be pushing it slightly.

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    3. Milliband should be standing up to the Tory press, arguing for democracy and speaking up for the people of Scotland, but instead he goes for the easy option. In doing so, however, he is allowing the Tories and their MSM chums to set the agenda. In his fear of losing, Milliband has ensured he will not win. Cameron will win it, I'm afraid.

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    4. @Luigi

      Miliband has the heart the size of a pea. The guy constantly capitulates to the Tory press in a sickening manner.

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    5. I agree with Luigi. Cameron will win it.

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    6. Muttley gets it. For some inexplicable reason the top of the Labour party is still dominated by callow policy wonks who still think in terms of a press based campaign and message.

      It simply doesn't matter what Labour does to appease these Thatcherites since the right-wing press will never thank them for it or stop supporting the tories. Yet this undeniable truth somehow still escapes the likes of Miliband and the Blairites so they continue to try to curry their favour with no regard to what used to be their base.

      The media barons do not give a shit about your tory triangulation while we have proven you simply do not need them. We fight elections in the teeth of unrelenting unionist media hostility and yet we are looking at a historic result and another possible landslide.

      The press do not even have a fraction of the influence they used to.They are not trusted and they have only themselves to blame for their increasing irrelevance. Particularly when you see the barking mad hysteria, shrieking and 'jock' bashing they are indulging in right now.

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    7. Oops!

      *Should have been "Muttley and Luigi get it."

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  6. "This once again demonstrates the indescribable idiocy of a Labour strategy that effectively says "we only want No voters" by aggressively opposing fiscal autonomy for Scotland."

    Why is it idiotic to oppose a policy that clearly under the current circumstances would be a bad thing for Scotland? Even the SNP tacitly recognise that - which is why they're trying to kick the FFA can down the road a few years in the hope the oil price picks up again.

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    1. Daily Mail ReaderApril 26, 2015 at 7:20 PM

      Scrounging Labour Jock. Pay your own way.

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    2. Evening, Simon. I presume you're going to pretend to faint with astonishment when I tell you that I don't accept your premise that FFA would be a bad thing for Scotland?

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    3. Remind us, how did all that whining for weeks about oil prices help the Eggman, Labour, the lib dems and the tories in scotland?

      Hmmmm?

      +checks polls and scottish seat projections+

      ROFL

      Not looking particularly good for you out of touch westminster twits, is it? :-D

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    4. How long do you think it would take to implement FFA? I think at least 5 years, possibly more. How long did the Calman Commission findings take to implement? Bearing in mind it was the predictable dogs breakfast from the unionists.

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    5. My last comment was directed to Annoymous' post.

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  7. Miliband's rejection of any deal was less than forthright. I'm certainly no convinced.

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  8. @John F

    Don't get me started on that article by Macwhirter. I think it is the worst one I have ever read from him. I have been moaning about it on Wings so I think I will just leave it there.

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    1. I had no intention of getting you started on anything!

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  9. I suppose they can dare the SNP to vote down their Queen's Speech with the Tories and shoot themselves in the foot, and later vote with the Tories against reasonable legislation.

    They know that for their right wing stuff like Trident and Wars and cutting benefits, the Tories and Liberals will vote with them.

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    1. What amuses me is that so many of the westminster bubble idiots can't even remember that THIS lib dem/tory coalition couldn't even pass a great deal of important legislation (Lords reform, Boundary changes etc.) yet now they seem to expect a Queens Speech to be the last word on the matter. Nope. Try again.

      It just ain't gonna happen chaps and it wouldn't even have happened if one of the westminster establishment parties got a majority. That's just not how it works and it never has been.

      Rest assured though, the quickest way to little Ed becoming a weak joke of a PM is to spurn all progressive and reasonable legislation we put forward and have to run begging to the tories or yellow tories to save him.

      It's not as if he is popular right now, even with his own supporters. So there's a teeny, tiny chance that little Ed going on his knees to Cameron or Boris might not be the best way to impress them.

      Of course if the Blairites get Heseltine in to sort it all out that'll make little Ed HUGELY popular with Labour voters, won't it? ;-)

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    2. And remember, if call me Dave loses his replacement is Teresa May or Boris. Neither Jock friendly.

      By definition if Ed doesn't beat CMD he will have lost the election, and have great difficulty avoiding the knives his own side will be sharpening already behind his back.

      May this year will be an interesting month.

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    3. If the Tories lose I would think Osborne would almost certainly become Tory leader.

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    4. @muttley

      There are enough lunatics at the top of that party to make it happen so it's a possiblity.

      Still a bit hard to see how the 'master strategist' escapes the blame for their car crash of a campaign though since he's been in charge of it.

      There is also no way on earth they avoid the inevitable Europe split as those who have been forced to keep quiet about that will find their voices VERY rapidly indeed should the coward Cameron fail to get them into government.

      The EU naval gazing and 'how kipper should we be?' backlash is baked in since it happened in 2010 with a mere 3% kipper vote. The only thing that stopped it degenerating into a full scale tory civil war over Europe was the tory/libdem coalition being cobbled together hastily. Even that didn't stop the Eurosceptic headbangers holding Cameron hostage and forcing an EU referendum u-turn and commitment after the Lisbon shambles from the fop.

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  10. Your headline took me back, James. I was working in the local Labour Ward HQ in 1964, stuffing envelopes and such like for Jimmy Hamilton (he followed a great bloke, John Timmons - Google his name to see a real Labour MP), when Harold Wilson narrowly won the election. Now, I put Labour communications straight in the bin unread. Back then, I could not have conceived the circumstances in which I would have ever voted anything else but Labour. Now, I would hunt a Labour canvasser off my doorstep, with some very choice words, and I am voting for Emma Harper (Mundell's D, T & C constituency). Clearly, I am not alone in my disgust with Labour. Gaun yersel, Nicola!

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    1. A man of wisdom and discernment (said with "Vote Emma" badge dieplayed prominently).

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    2. I hear Alex made a comment about the possibility of "Pandas 2 - Tories 0" today on Sky Rolfe.

      You'd better believe we are cheering you on! :-D

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  11. Perhaps the uGB establishment don't want Labour to win (I include Labour in that) to preserve their precious union above all else

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  12. Oh I think Miliband will become PM OK. The SNP have been carefully endorsing main planks of the Labour manifesto, which lets them know the SNP won't vote against, in fact they'd vote for. Yes, there may be amendments tabled by the SNP - increase the spending and borrowing for instance. There may even be "pressure" at the time to get Labour to support those amendments. But Labour would know they'd be able to govern - and it doesn't need a deal, just going through on the nod. So Miliband can happily select box number 10 and say "no deal" to the SNP, though he may or may not need the LibDems.

    For 100 days. That's when Labour have promised to put the "Home Rule" Bill through, and I doubt it'll be "watered down", in fact it'll probably be the Full Smith. Then it's a cat and mouse game for the rest, but by that time the electorate will have moved on, and the media will find its readership bored witless..

    Miaouw.

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    1. The Smith Commission recommendations are nowhere near what we were promised before the referendum. They are also unworkable and would be greatly damaging to Scotland. I also do not know why you are so confident about Miliband becoming PM. Even of he became PM, he will need more than the Lib Dems to survive 5 years.

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  13. The very fact that Ed does capitulate when put under pressure, will be noted by the SNP leadership, and when it best suits Scotland, the SNP will I'm sure manage to get a large chunk of the Labour promises, made to Scots if they would only vote No.

    In fact I'm sure their will already have been back room discussions had between SNP and Westminster Labour, about how Ed can deny there will be any deals, while in fact making sure Scotland benefits greatly from a Labour government propped up by the SNP.

    This will be done by Labour giving Scotland a lot of the powers that were promised by Gordon Brown etc, during the indy referendum, as well as giving a lot of the powers that were originally in the Smith commission, but that the Tories have been kicking into the long grass.

    Ed will be able to deflect the charge that will inevitably come, that he is giving all the goodies to the Scots, by retorting that he is only in fact fulfilling the promises that the Labour Tory and Lib Dems, made to Scotland, if they voted No.

    Scotland gets a lot of extra powers, Miliband gets to be prime minister, and Labour is all but wiped out in Scotland.

    What's not to like.



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  14. If Cameron wins he will have no legitimacy in Scotland, and then what?

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    1. If the polls come true, neither will Ed and Nick. Unless they work with the SNP.

      Anyway, I'm sure Labour and the Libs, as per the 80's and 90's, will shout from the rooftops about the 'democratic deficit' in Scotland and how this means the SNP need to be involved in UK governance, at least with respect to Scotland.

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  15. TNS full Scottish poll:

    SNP 54% (+2),
    Lab 22% (-2),
    Con 13% (0),
    LD 6% (0),
    Green 2% (-1),
    UKIP 2% (+1)

    Face-to-face survey between 1st and 19th April.

    http://www.tnsglobal.com/uk/press-release/tns-poll-momentum-is-still-with-the-snp-but-many-remain-undecided

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