Friday, March 29, 2019

As Ruth Davidson would say, "Well done, Clacks!" - SNP storm past Labour to win bellwether by-election

In the aftermath of the 2017 general election, there was a string of local by-elections in former Labour heartland areas in which the SNP suffered swings to Labour that were significantly in excess of anything the national opinion polls would have led us to expect.  The obvious concern was that there were regional trends going on beneath the radar that could create a nasty shock at the next general election, especially given that there are so many ultra-marginal SNP-Labour marginal seats.  Yesterday's Clackmannanshire Central by-election was exactly the sort of contest where you might have expected to see that trend show up again, because it took place in a part of the central belt where Labour had once been completely dominant.  But this time the opposite happened - there was a hefty swing against Labour, and the SNP came from second place to win the seat.  (Technically it was an SNP hold, but that's just a quirk of the STV voting system - Labour won the popular vote in the ward in 2017.)

Clackmannanshire Central by-election result (28th March 2019):

SNP 40.9% (+2.6)
Labour 31.9% (-8.0)
Conservatives 19.8% (+3.2)
UKIP 3.3% (n/a)
Greens 2.5% (-2.6)
Liberal Democrats 1.7% (n/a)

That's a swing of 5.3% from Labour to SNP, which if extrapolated to the whole country for "just a bit of fun" would see Scottish Labour once again reduced to just one seat at Westminster (Ian Murray in Edinburgh South).  Which adds to the building impression that the storm clouds have now passed for the SNP in the former Labour heartlands - perhaps partly because of the impact of the Independent Group split, but mostly because of the sheer clarity of the SNP's message on Brexit, which a hopelessly divided Labour can't hope to compete with at the moment.

As ever, not too much should be read into the increase in the Tory vote, because the Tories are traditionally better than other parties at getting their supporters to the polls in local by-elections.

By the way, I hope you'll appreciate my restraint, because I very, very nearly titled this blogpost 'SNP crack it in Clacks as Leonard's lousy Labour languish limply'.

*  *  *

It's often said that a No Deal exit "can't happen" because the House of Commons wouldn't ever allow it to.  I don't agree with that - for as long as No Deal remains the default outcome in both domestic and EU law, it has to be taken seriously as a real possibility.  Nevertheless, the indicative votes on Wednesday night did once again prove that there is a massive natural majority in the Commons against No Deal, which was voted down by 400 votes to 160.  But probably equally important, and certainly far more astonishing, is the fact that Tory MPs voted in favour of the catastrophe of a No Deal exit in just two weeks from now by an overwhelming majority of 157 to 94.  That helpfully illustrates why no Tory government can deliver a soft Brexit regardless of parliament's wishes - it would split the party apart, probably quite literally.  Brexiteer ringleader Steve Baker has already been openly threatening to resign the Tory whip.  And maybe we're also seeing cause for scepticism that the Tories would do as well in a snap general election as the polls currently suggest - they've basically turned into UKIP, and there's a reason why UKIP have never won a general election.

In other circumstances we'd be shocked to learn that one Scottish Tory MP voted for No Deal, and that four others abstained on the subject.  But compared to their colleagues south of the border, that makes them look like a relatively Remainy bunch - perhaps because they simply have to be for reasons of self-preservation in a very Remain country.  And one of the four abstentions wasn't meaningful anyway, because as a Cabinet minister David Mundell was instructed to abstain on every vote.  (20 Cabinet abstentions also put the relative closeness of the vote on a second referendum into perspective.)

28 comments:

  1. The word is that the Tory Party constituency committees in England have overwhelmingly demanded their MPs to support a No Deal exit and some like Grantham & Stamford MP Nick Boles have been threatened with deselection.

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    1. Interesting. A statistic I saw recently that 74% of Tory constituencies also registered a Leave majority suggests that the Blue Tories are now UKIP. Scarily 64% of Labour constituencies also voted Leave, so maybe for once Corbyn isn't totally out of tune with the bulk of his voters as regards Brexit, although it's funny to think that self-styled left-wing Corbyn is in tune with his right-wing voters.

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    2. Shows that remain/leave transcends the traditional left/right political divide. Although the right gets the headlines for anti EU potions once you get past a certain point on the left of the political spectrum then involvement in large blocks such as the EU becomes just as unpopular although for different reasons to the right. 'Golilocks zone' for the EU in terms of popularity is probably center left through to center right

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  2. Corbyn's 'genius Brexit chess strategy which people are just not clever enough to understand but will in time when all is revealed' paying off then it seems.

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  3. Why are the Tories proclaimed to be good at managing the economy when the growth rate has fallen by half since they took power in 2015?

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    1. Luck mainly, most people will relate to Conservtives being in power since 2010 and they were the party who have seen positive growth after Labour who were in charge during the global crash and recession. If it had been the other way around then Labour would be the ones benefiting.

      Labour also do not help themselves when they say they are preparing for a run on the pound if they got elected - hardly inspires confidence in their economic abilities.

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    2. The Tories were not in power post-2010. It was a coalition with the Lib Dems, including considerable influence at the treasury. Any modest - and it was extremely modest - post 2010 recovery cannot therefore be attributed to the Tories alone.

      This is supported by the fact the economy starts to decline the moment the Tories get an absolute majority in 2015. This continues through their C&S relationship with their sister right-wing British flag logo unionist party the DUP (the DUP basically back them on economic policy).

      Labour are no better really, but my comment wasn't about them.

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    3. You asked Tories proclaimed to be good at managing the economy

      I gave the answer, most people see recession under Labour and recovery under Conservatives. Remember when answer polling people dont over think, the vast majority will not even know the growth rate, all see is that the last recession was under Labour and there has not been one under the Conservatives. They also hear Labour saying that their policy includes having a run on the pound. Therefore the conservatives can proclaime to be good at managing the economy (or at least better than Labour) because polling shows that this is what most people believe.

      On another subject, looks like heading for a GE and therefore a second ref, probably in the Autumn.

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    4. Sorry, it's just you were starting to talk about Labour and I made no mention of them.

      I've not seen any evidence the conservatives are good at managing the economy; the opposite is the case. Polling also suggests the vast majority of people don't think they are good at managing the economy, only that they are less bad at this than Labour. Hence I'm struggling to understand why anyone proclaims the Tories are competent in this respect.

      A second indyref looks all but inevitable now yes.

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    5. Polling also suggests the vast majority of people don't think they are good at managing the economy, only that they are less bad at this than Labour

      THats all you need, if you had a choice between having one arm chopped on or two, you would vote for one arm. You obviously would rather not to have either chopped off, but if that is not an option you go for the best option you have.

      Same in voting, people vote for the party that would do less worse that the other parties. The party you vote for can be really crap, but as long as you think they are less crap than the other parties they get your vote.

      If there is a general election and results in Labour needing SNP support to form a majority then an Autumn 2020 Second Indy ref is probable yes.

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    6. Just flick your peanut over the balcony. You can see the email and any other person.

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    7. Cordelia there, sharing its Domestos-inspired gibberish.

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  4. Another strong and stable day in the UK.

    We really dodged a bullet in 2014. Clearly the UK is best placed to manage the economy and trade deals.

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  5. Worth remembering that any decided on Monday (CU, SM ETC ETC) cant be added onto 'MV4' by amendment as has been tried before as the meaningful vote cannot be voted on in its 'vanilla' form has per Bercows ruling.

    So it needs to be added by the Goverment. If they add it then the hard-line Eurosceptics will pull the plug and if she refuses to then the pro EU Conservatives will pull the plug.

    Just can't see a path that does not end in a GE.

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    1. I'm not sure how a GE solves anything. Leave is still commanding 45-50% of the vote. If you can hoover that up, you win handsomely under FPTP.

      If your constituency is 30%+ leave and the remaining vote is split, leave starts to be the vote winner.

      Unless brexit goes ahead and England falls flat on its face as a result, the brexit voters are going to keep on claiming it's the sunlit uplands. In the meantime, any economic decline is the fault of the EU/pro-remain MPs/furrin people, so we should keep supporting brexit.

      Brexit is going nowhere until it breaks the UK economic and socially. Then things can recover.

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  6. Except a chunk of the pro leave vote comes from areas that will never vote Conservative in a million years, that combined with the fact that Conservatives will more than likely loose a chunk of seats in Scotland means they will fall short of a majority and not have enough 'friends' in parliment to form a coalition or S&D arrangement.

    Labour on the other hand due to the fact that they are trying to sit on the fence over Brexit and there non brexit policies preclude pro EU Conservatives from voting for them (without centre right Conservatives they can't get a majority) will need LD and or SNP support to Goverern. The possible way that Labour could get a majority would be for the SNP vote in Scotland to collapse in favour of Labour, as you have pointed out the opposite is happening.

    A GE now would almost certainly lead to a Labour party needing to commit to a second EU ref, in return for support from either the LD or SNP.

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    1. English Labour can't use Scots or Welsh mps to govern England under evel. They need to win England. A UK pm realistically needs to be English and win England. The latter seems unlikely for Labour.

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    2. Would be close yea, LD votes might get them over the line. If not then yea they are screwed, they will have to hold a second EU ref which Brexiter Corbyn will hate and be unable to intact their polices . FTPA will keep them in Goverment but not in power.

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  7. All it would take to scupper Labour in England would be another ad campaign in the vein of Ed Milliband in AS's pocket. They're pretty much dead in Scotland. I could see a GE returning either a slim Tory majority or a hung parly with them as largest party setting up a C&S deal with DUP and UKIP. Hard Brexit time

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  8. The DUP and hard brexiters actually have very little in common apart from both disliking the backstop. As Nigel Dodds said today for them the Union trumps everything else. If it keeping the Union means SM/CU then so be it.

    Can't see DUP propping up Conservatives headed by a Brexiter, they would worry that the Conservatives sell them out again, such as Borris Mogg et al did today.

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  9. Gibraltar has asked that England revoke article 50.

    Surely if a majority of British nations want that it should happen?

    Britain isn't just England.

    3 out of 5 British European nations didn't vote for Brexit, so why is brexit happening?

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  10. Things getting ugly at the pro-brexit march in England I see.

    https://twitter.com/georginafstubbs/status/1111715367615901701

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  11. Strangers Bar GroperMarch 30, 2019 at 9:57 AM

    Did Ross Thomson give the Spanish Francoists a Happy Ending before they returned to their home in the EU?

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    1. “You might very well think that - I couldn't possibly comment.”

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  12. Here I am the day after we brexited from the EU. I had a lovely full English breakfast and am looking forward to watching Mosquito Squadron .ah... Freedom

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    1. We can only assume that Cordelia slept through the extension. We're still in the EU due to the screaming incompetence of Cruella. Imagine thinking there would ever be a deal that could be sold to Tory hard Brexiteers and DUP dinosaur deniers...

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    2. I hope she enjoyed her breakfast and programme because she's in for a surprise. Enjoy!

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