Sunday, August 16, 2015

Sturgeon should not worry without porpoise

The Spectator Coffee House blog very rarely features posts from a pro-Labour perspective.  If it has ever before featured a post from a hard left perspective, I certainly can't remember it.  The author of today's piece, Robert McGregor, doesn't seem to have written for the site before.

So is it entirely a coincidence that this once in a blue moon post just happens to take a "bad news for Sturgeon" angle?  Probably not.  I suspect even Fidel Castro would be welcome at the Spectator as long as he wanted to bang on about the latest "blow for the SNP".

Turning to the substance of the post, is it actually true that Sturgeon will be beside herself with worry about a Corbyn win?  I think it's probably fair to say that the SNP would have preferred a boring win for boring Burnham, because it would have changed absolutely nothing, and more of the same suits the SNP just fine.  Corbyn introduces unpredictability into the equation - his leftiness might undermine the SNP's pitch, but equally he might preside over such disunity that next year's Holyrood election will be even less of a contest than we currently expect.  We just don't have a clue how it will play out, and uncertainty is scary.  One thing we can be sure of, though, is that the 'Red Tory' jibe is about to give way to 'utter shambles', which is potentially just as potent.

And if the state of play is going to change, it certainly hasn't happened yet.  Corbyn may be packing out medium-sized halls in Scotland, but he's had no impact on recent local council by-elections, all of which have been won by the SNP on mammoth swings.


  1. Even if Corbyn takes out 15% of the SNP's current 60% polling, surely the SNP is going to win all the 73 Holyrood constituencies with the minimum 45%.

    1. The simple answer to that question is no. They'd be nowhere near winning all 73 constituencies on 45% of the vote - in that scenario they'd desperately need their list vote to hold up to win a majority.

    2. 15% away from 60 leaves 51 not 45.

    3. But that's not what Anon meant.

    4. The SNP got 45% of the constituency vote in 2011 and won 56 constituencies out of 73. It was the 13 list seats, achieved because the list vote fell only minimally from the constituency level, that delivered the landslide majority.

      Some people are beginning to sound like unionists trying to mislead unwary SNP voters.

    5. Another thing implicit in this suggestion is that Corbyn would intervene lots in the Holyrood campaign and make it all about the UK, rather than Scottish issues - it might be different this time, but that hasn't worked so well in the past for Labour!

    6. Yes we need to watch carefully on this one in terms of list vote strategy. If snp falls noticeably and Labour rises then I'll vote snp on the list. It's quite an interesting prospect and I agree with the points made that he's simultaneously the most likely candidate to both challenge the snp from the left and equally cause utter chaos for Labour/split the party and destroy it against snp in Scotland and Tories in England. Both are realistic possibilities

    7. Does anyone ever use the Weber Shandwick "Scotland Votes" election calculator? It's somewhat limited - it doesn't include a socialist party but there will probably be one available to vote for on the regional vote at least.

      When I put in 45% for the SNP constituency vote, high thirties for their regional vote and a large-ish Green vote - say 7 or 8%, then it knocks the SNP down to a minority but they would still be able to join with the Greens to form a slender parliamentary majority.

      The SSP could take votes from both the SNP and the Greens however, costing them seats but not gaining any themselves. This "lost vote" effect could conceivably hand a majority to lib/lab/con/ukip. I'd fall off my chair in hysterics if the radical militant mob succeeded in sinking the nationalist government.

      There are other factors involved as well - Corbyn, UKIP, the SNP manifesto contents.

      It's shaping up to be an election that is impossible to call. Surprises and upsets highly likely.

  2. Why is it supposed that Labour would become such an attractive left-wing choice under Corbyn? The SNP would remain the only party of the left that is able to put Scotland first without looking over its shoulder to its Westminster masters.

  3. I voted SNP last May and I'd be tempted to vote for a Corbyn-led Labour. Regrettably however, I doubt very much he will be allowed to lead, even if he does win this election

    1. In which election though? You aren't boring for Corbyn in May 2016.

    2. Hang in there Niall, you've already taken the biggest leap. Keep the nerve.

    3. But it wouldn't be Corbyn you'd be voting to be First Minister - it'd be Kezia Dugdale who you'd be voting to lead our government and represent Scotland internationally.

    4. Niall, you'd still be taking a punt on a fickle England voting for a proper left wing government approximately every 40 years or so if you did.

      Do you really want to lash Scotland to such an unreliable outcome?

      The post war welfare state ushered in in 1948 lasted approximately 30 years before the Tories, then New Labour, went about dismantling it.

      Plus, it's a big 'IF' that even if Corbyn gets elected leader, that he might win the GE 2020. It's an even bigger 'if' that if he did, that he would be able to form a functioning left wing government. He would have to de-select and expel 75% of current Labour MPs to get a proper Labour government in line with his policies to stand a chance of getting proper Labour policies enacted.

      If you want to sacrifice all we've gained (after 80 years of campaigning for democracy and self-determination in Scotland) on such slim pickings, go for it.

      But you'd be a fool. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

    5. Agree with the responses, stick with Scotland's party. At holyrood corbyn is not who you are electing it's the branch office there. At westminster you'll get Tories there anyway so elect representatives that will really put Scotland first. Snp.

    6. hmmm, lots of panicky responses here. I see myself as a leftwinger before i see myself as scottish, or british. One big motivation to vote for Corbyn would be that it would be a disaster for the left (UK and Ireland wide, indeed Europe-wide) if his leadership collapsed within the year - as many people within Labour would be working very hard to ensure. Whether Scotland remains part of the UK or becomes independent, it would be within its interest for England to move back leftwards rather than moving further and further towards a US-style neoliberal politics.

      I accept that Kezia Dugdale isn't an impressive figure and I'd much rather have Sturgeon as first minister than her. Decisions decisions. Realistically, I think Scotland has gone so far down the road towards independence I think Jeremy Corbyn will find it difficult to turn back the clock. He'd need to have radical and carefully thought-through proposals on a federal, much more democratic UK. This is something he seems to have given comparatively little thought to.

    7. It doesn't matter if you perceive yourself as a left're going to get Tories at westminster anyway and who do you think will represent Scotland better Scotland's party snp or a bunch of careerists in a redundant Labour party. Similarly at holyrood, all the talent and commitment is not in Scottish Labour branch office. We need to question which party is best placed to deliver not stick to historical attachments. Labour in Scotland is ideologically bankrupt and not deserving of a vote. They lie consistently. The media supports them in this unchallenged. Why would you vote for that. At holyrood best way to get left-wing is snp constituency and then a Green or socialist on the list. Or snp on the list depending on the polls. But not a unionist party. We need separate broadcasting to free the population from their slumber...only snp could deliver this..we've been told unchallenged that we subsidise England. What kind of society is that. People are legitimately concerned here that Labour under him might attract back voters. I have advocated a Green vote on the list in another thread as a tactical vote. I won't be advocating this if people like niall in polls move back to Labour scottishbranch office. We need unity. Labour stood against Scotland and we should have no truck with them.

    8. Niall, if you are a left -winger (and living in Scotland) you are far more likely to get a left wing government in an independent Scotland. If you stick with the UK, even if Corbyn is elected Labour leader there's a far smaller chance that he will be able to form a Labour governent, never mind enact proper Labour policies that will last before they are reversed by Tories.

  4. Yeh, I guess folk could vote for Corbyn and we could do the 80's-90's thing again. Or the 2010 thing...or even the much better - but still in a way the same outcome - 2015 thing.

    England decides the Westminster government, not Scotland.

    If Scotland votes for English parties it can safely be ignored. I've not seen anything from even Corybn to suggest otherwise.

    He's anti-indy and as far as I'm aware, not offering devo max or anything. Sounds to me like old (English) Labour.

    SNP maybe, just maybe, working with Labour would be more clout.

  5. I don't suppose it will make much difference in 2016 now that we have Kezia Dugdale in charge of the Scottish branch office. I doubt her claims of being more autonomous of London will wash with anyone seeing as her four predecessors all made similar claims only to all be put in their place by London in the end.

    As we all know, hitherto, the Scottish electorate have been savvy enough to understand that what they are voting for in Holyrood and Westminster are different and consequently they have usually voted differently. It's only recently i.e. the general election that they have voted the same way at both. I don't see how a Corbyn victory would change their desire to retain a tried and tested competent Scottish Government that gives them the left of centre social democracy they want for an untried and untested glove puppet who was initially firmly in the anti-Corbyn camp.

    Where Corbyn might make a difference is at the next Westminster election and that is comfortably 5 years off. He hasn't even been elected leader yet and already the Labour Party is tearing itself apart in internecine warfare. So I don't think Nicola need worry that much.

    1. I think we have to expect a wee Corbyn bounce in the polls for Labour, should he win.

      How long it would or could last, however, is another matter. Sure, quite a few recent ex-voters may be tempted to give Labour one more chance (yet again) in Scotland, but south of the border, the red tory contingent would be apoplectic and there is a real risk that the party would tear itself apart. Add to that an all-out media attack on Corbyn's position on Trident/ austerity/ nationalisation etc and things look "interesting" to say the least. It could be quite ashort honeymoon indeed.

      I agree that the greater threat from SLAB would be to the WM MPs, if Corbyn is a great success and builds a massive grassroots movement across the UK over the next five years. And the chances of that are?

      At Holyrood, could a Corbyn bounce actually hurt Labour, in that if they hold on to a few constituencies, they get less list MSPs. Possible? I don't know. There are better minds than me here who may be able to answer that one!

  6. To dent the SNP long term, Corbyn doesn't just have to win; he has to hold Labour together and then look like actually winning an election. If Corbyn becomes Labour leader, is popular in Scotland but is soundly rejected by the English electorate, it will play right into the hands of the SNP and Yes indyref2.

  7. In terms of polling and by-election results what needs to be taken into account re the possible Corbyn factor apart from him not being elected yet is the well trumpeted threat by the Blairites to mount a coup against him in the PLP if he does get elected. Which makes Corbyn very much a large What If? not a Hmm, looks interesting enough to change my vote.

    I'm also not sure how accurate the polling is and how the pollsters know people are being honest or well informed about their ability to vote in the Labour leadership election when they are polled. So I'm taking all these polling numbers for Corbyn with a grain of salt. I know the Blairites are panicking in response but they too may be over-interpreting the polling. I don't know if you have an insight into this problem James.

    But the point still stands, he has not yet been elected and may not last long enough to enact policy if elected. As an ex-Labour voter it is going to take an awful lot more than this to tempt me back. As a RIC person I may well spend the Holyrood election helping the SLP, though that is to be determined. But even if I do that my vote is still my affair.

  8. I would not be surprised if, right now, it is all being quietly engineered so that Corbyn comes a close second, and the Blairite winner generously offers Corbyn a shadow position and the lefties get a bigger say in policy (at least for public perception).

    Everyone's happy and looking forward to 2020. What's not to like?

  9. The only advantage of a Corbyn win is that he might just be more sympathetic to working with the SNP in opposition.

    But if he is in government, he is likely to not directly oppose Scottish independence, but just drag his feet, because if he succeeds in attracting support in Scotland, he will see the SNP as a rival, and as an obstacle to securing a victory in the UK if the likes of Niall are ever tempted to vote for him in Scotland.

    I would vote for Corbyn only if I lived in England. If I lived in Scotland I would not vote for him, especially as on a UK level, he is likely to co-operate with the SNP. So there is no need, from a left wing perspective.

    I don't know if anybody has noticed, but Labour actually won more seats in England (232) this time than they did last time (211). Even if they had not lost 41 seats in Scotland (=273) they still didn't have enough. Labour must win in England. Jack Staw commented that Labour could secure a majority based on English seats and English votes and had done several times before. The only times when Scottish votes made any difference to UK GE was during weak Labour minority governments such as during the 1970s and these governments were unable to achieve much.

  10. Good luck to Corbyn.

    It would be great if Labour chose a sane leader, and then England chose a sane Government. Having a sane neighbour helps Scotland far more than having a crazy one that harms all.

    Having the centre of gravity move left would be a real help. Its a move that began - despite the pundits saying it's impossible - as people in Scotland, England and elsewhere saw Nicola Sturgeon, Patrick Harvie and Colin Fox making sense, and the Tories and Blairites making sound bites. Now the pundits have been saying Corbyn can't win the leadership contest and can't win the GE. The defining feature of punditry that is out of touch is that it is based on fear and trying to protect the status quo, rather than on optimism and daring to make real changes.

  11. Glad to see you James are not taken in by the bullshit thrown about by SLAB, the MSM and minor publications like the Speccy. And I don't understand why people here think Corbyn may be a threat to the SNP. As a staunch Indy man I've been supporting Corbyn on social media simply to give Labour another kick in the bollocks, to quicken the day when the country will be free of Labour and its placemen, and I venture to suggest many in Scotland have been doing the same. I do not believe Corbyn has had any traction in Scotland except among the old faithful, head up the ass, SLAB supporters. And I base this on the facts that he was here during the time 5 by-elections were being voted on and ALL showed large swings from Labour to SNP, hell, there were even swings from Labour to Tory.

    Corbyn as Leader would have pronounced effects at Westminster with his well left views, and that could only aid the SNP in their efforts there. It doesn't matter what he says now about Independence, he's trying to get elected. His tune will change, will have to change, when much of his WM support is likely to be SNP MPs.

    However what is going to happen to the Labour Party is still all very much up in the air as the 'democratic' Party of the People ties itself up in fascist, Nazi, knots and heads for a self destructive schism as it tries to prevent Corbyn being elected. The people at the top don't seem to realise or care about what they are doing, and no matter who becomes Leader, the Labour Party are going to be rent asunder afterwards.

  12. from a useful comment on a stupid article in the Guardian - - Jawanza Ruhani Ipyana points out ( ) that "for those as geeky as me about stats- for the leadership elections, check this out . . . "

    These are the responses to "are you more likley or less likley to vote for labour with this person as leader of the labour party" for JC, AB and YC respectly.

    Amongst those intending to vote conservative
    13.6% more likley vs 23.8% less likley to vote labour with YC
    18.6% more likley vs 23.4% less likley to vote labour with AB
    18.9% more likley vs 30.3% less likley to vote labour with JC
    net changes are -10.2 for YC, -4.8 for AB, -11.4% for JC

    Amongst those intending to vote Labour
    30% more likley vs 7.8% less likley to vote labour with YC
    39.2% more likley vs 11.6% less likley to vote labour with AB
    50.5% more likley vs 5.9% less likley to vote labour with JC
    net changes are +16.9 for YC, +27.6 for AB, +44.6% for JC

    Amongst those intending to vote UKIP
    16.5% more likley vs 40.5% less likley to vote labour with YC
    20.8% more likley vs 16.8% less likley to vote labour with AB
    33.3% more likley vs 21.1% less likley to vote labour with JC
    net changes are -24 for YC, -9 for AB, +3.7% for JC

    Amongst those intending to vote Libdem
    33.3% more likley vs 8.1% less likley to vote labour with YC
    25.2% more likley vs 28% less likley to vote labour with AB
    34.4% more likley vs 32.8% less likley to vote labour with JC
    net changes are +17.7 for YC, -2.8 for AB, +1.6% for JC

    Amongst those intending to vote for another party
    12.5% more likley vs 28.8% less likley to vote labour with YC
    16.5% more likley vs 18.1% less likley to vote labour with AB
    35.7% more likley vs 11.4% less likley to vote labour with JC
    net changes are -16.3 for YC, -1.6 for AB, +24.3% for JC

    Amongst those undecided who they intend to vote
    15.1% more likley vs 11.4% less likley to vote labour with YC
    21.3% more likley vs 11.5% less likley to vote labour with AB
    23.5% more likley vs 12.7% less likley to vote labour with JC
    net changes are +3.7 for YC, +9.8 for AB, +10.8% for JC


  13. from: Neil Anderson: YES Alliance Parties can all easily outflank JC if he's elected & call Labour out for good.
    Just adopt Clause 4. ;)

  14. "I think it's probably fair to say that the SNP would have preferred a boring win for boring Burnham, because it would have changed absolutely nothing, and more of the same suits the SNP just fine. Corbyn introduces unpredictability into the equation - his leftiness might undermine the SNP's pitch, but equally he might preside over such disunity that next year's Holyrood election will be even less of a contest than we currently expect. We just don't have a clue how it will play out, and uncertainty is scary. "

    Sorry not good enough - we want change for deeper reasons of social justice: this is not a game, FFS! Burnham plus SNP = good for necessary political change: who gives a stuff about uncertainty? You are brilliant to read until you lose the core reason why all this matters so much...

    1. Who the hell is "we"? You may not give a monkey's about whether this country becomes independent or not - but I do, and I'm not alone. Nor is my support for independence "a game", as you put it. I don't need your help to decide what I believe in, and why I think it matters.

      I presume your sudden conversion to Burnham is a typo? "FFS!"

    2. Oops - sorry yes of course I meant Corbyn + SNP = good. But sorry too that you haven't answered my point - why do you assert that the SNP would have preferred boring Burnham win? This is surface sketching not profound commitment to ideas and change first. Tactics are a relatively insignificant icing on the cake. Of course we all want independence; I don't doubt your motives in that respect any more than you should others'. But surely not as a goal in itself but as the best way to achieve a better, fairer society? That must be the constant determinant of what the SNP and others want otherwise we're sunk and will get mired in petty measurements of what will get us by for now. These primarily tactical assessments of the SNP's motives are, as I said, not good enough - nor worthy of your otherwise forensic analysis. You may think I'm being unfair but I think you sometimes lose the raison d'etre of the struggle itself. Maybe I'm just fed up reading journalistic calculations - I look to you for more...

    3. We've already been through this a few weeks ago - did you not listen to my answer to your questions the first time? You said you did (you even said "thankyou" afterwards) but now you're just asking the exact same questions all over again.

      You seem to think that a Corbyn/SNP axis can achieve a better/fairer society. How? Perhaps you haven't noticed, but the Conservatives have an ABSOLUTE MAJORITY in parliament. Except when there is a rebellion, they can do as they damn well please (and successful rebellions will be much more difficult under Corbyn, not least because the DUP hate his guts and will be reluctant to find themselves in the same lobby as him).

      Or perhaps you think Corbyn is going to win the 2020 general election and usher in a new era of social justice. How? Haven't you noticed that there is a clear centre-right majority in the English electorate, and that the idea of the most left-wing Labour leader since World War II winning a general election is pretty far-fetched? And what will be the net result of Corbyn NOT winning a general election, and Scotland NOT becoming independent? That's right. More right-wing rule in Scotland. More misery for the poor and the vulnerable.

      If you want social justice, that requires independence (or Devo Max) as soon as possible. It requires the SNP not to lose support to an invigorated Scottish Labour party under the ultra-unionist Corbyn. Now that's my position - you might not like it, but please don't tell me I haven't thought it through, because I can assure you I have.

      And also, please stop telling people that there is only one possible raison d'etre for the struggle for independence, because that simply isn't true, and you must know that. For some people it's about social justice, for others it's simply about getting the government we vote for, and there are a number of other possible reasons as well.

  15. My goal is independence too James and I've thought about the corbyn issue quite a lot. I think a corbyn led Labour is the most likely scenario to deliver a shot at the substantial change in circumstances required to deliver discontent/2nd referendum. Initially I wasn't sure possibly slightly anti but I've changed my mind. here's why:

    1.the biggest obstacle to Scottish independence that we can politically affect is a left leaning UK alternative like corbyn. This has always been the case. I think the conditions are absolutely ripe for that to be tested. the snp has never been stronger and I doubt very much that corbyn is electable in England. It's the biggest obstacle. If we have the scenario and Labour lose it nails the social democracy through the UK argument 6 foot under. I wouldn't underestimate the potential benefit of this.

    2. One of the risks that is cited is that Labour in Scotland could be reenergised. Sure some numpties would go back to them but these are unique times. 45% voted yes, a few greens here and there and snp 50 plus at wm and considerably more at holyrood..We may lose a bit but stay low 40s and above and yer in the lead in Scotland. Nicola popularity through the roof and there has never been a time of so much talent in that party. They could argue we would keep Labour honest much as they did against Miliband. Miliband did a wordy renege but ultimately the electorate believed snp and Nicola...there is no reason that wouldn't continue to apply.I think snp would broadly hold. Corbyn would find his credibility seriously tested if he used the no deal with snp line. what happens if corbyn wins and somehow stops the Labour party imploding and wins enough of England to get into power....well pretty unlikely but if they do they'll need snp...snp will be in a huge bargaining position so strong that they might finally argue for non-London or indeed Glasgow Scottish bbc broadcasting as part of a deal...this is crucial for any 2nd go.we'll also see popular centre left stuff getting in.

    4. What are the alternatives...burnham/coopet etc. Well they'll probably lose too in 2020 but if they do the silly argument of a real left wing alternative labourchoice will remain...a corbyn loss nails that.if they win no real social progress, no snp influence and certainly no movement on broadcasting or control of future elections both of which are crucial to the winning of any 2nd go.

    So we put the so called centre left Labour in the mix...and they are rejected..that's why it's good. If they are unlikely not so then most likely dependent on snp so huge possibilities to put things in place to benefit Scotland and make yes indy ref 2 way more likely.

    That's why I want corbyn to win.

    1. And what will be the net result of Corbyn NOT winning a general election, and Scotland NOT becoming independent? That's right. More right-wing rule in Scotland. More misery for the poor and the vulnerable."

      Yes and a substantial change that would likely both agitate the Scottish population in terms of both the austerity agenda, the renege on the vow and lack of a UK centre left leg alternative. All 3 things in place to give Nicola's led snp confidence to call a referendum on the belief that they'd win it and subsequently win it due to a population believing there is no UK based alternative.