Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Would it be better for the SNP if a general election takes place before Brexit Day?

Barely a blink of an eye has passed since we were quietly rejoicing at the creation of the Independent Group (now Change UK) because we thought it would split the unionist vote and make it easier for the SNP to win a first-past-the-post election.  As absurd as that seems in retrospect, there were actually sound reasons for believing that was true at the time.  Although Change UK's potential electoral appeal was wildly overstated in the media, opinion polls were nevertheless showing that they were attracting a non-trivial share of the vote, and in Scotland it appeared to be coming more from the unionist parties than from the SNP.  Initially Labour took the biggest hit - remember how the Tories burst into a significant lead across the UK, and it briefly appeared that Change UK were about to follow in the SDP's footsteps by indirectly delivering a Tory landslide?  Yes, that does seem a very long time ago now, which just goes to show that we've lived through several years' worth of twists and turns over the last few weeks.  Brexit is severely compressing the political cycle.

The voters that transiently flirted with Change UK seem to be mostly coalescing behind the Liberal Democrats now.  That's less optimal for the SNP, because the Lib Dems are much more of a seat-winning threat at a general election than Change UK would have been.  But everything is relative - better to see the Lib Dems prosper at a modest level than to have Labour emerge as the Britain-wide party of Remain and enjoy a bandwagon effect that could sweep away the SNP's seats in the central belt.  And in any case, there's not much point mourning one missed opportunity to split the unionist vote when another has come along right on cue.  As long as the general election takes place before Britain leaves the EU, Nigel Farage's new party looks set to deal a killer blow to Scottish Tory hopes.

It's less clear whether the Brexit Party threat to the Tories would fade away if the election takes place after Brexit, but that's certainly a possibility.  Paradoxically, though, any Lib Dem threat to the SNP might also be neutralised by Brexit being delivered, because it's very hard to see how the Lib Dems would adapt to the new environment.  Vince Cable has already said that it wouldn't be credible for Britain to apply to rejoin the EU in the foreseeable future, which would effectively leave the party fighting for a softer Brexit - an objective unlikely to capture the public imagination in quite the same way as "B******* to Brexit".  The SNP, by contrast, would still be able to speak to the Remain true believers by promising that an independent Scotland will be a full member of the EU.

At the moment, it looks like the Brexit Party pose a much bigger danger to the Scottish Tories than the Lib Dems do to the SNP, so on balance it would probably be better for the SNP if an election takes place before Halloween.

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The break-up of Change UK yesterday was eerily reminiscent of the last days of the SDP in 1987-88.  From my vague recollection of something I once read in a book, the fracturing of the SDP was completely unnecessary, because although there was a clear majority in favour of a merger with the Liberals, there was also a clause in the party constitution that would have allowed David Owen to prevent the merger taking place by means of a blocking minority.  But he waived his right to do that, because he actually wanted a split.  He wanted to be free of the pro-Liberal faction that he was sick to death of dealing with, even though following that course clearly posed an existential threat to his political cause.  Change UK seem to have reached the same point - they just couldn't be bothered thrashing out a compromise that nobody would have been happy with but ultimately would have been in the best interests of all concerned.

It seems to be the case that some of the Change UK MPs wanted to throw in their lot with the Lib Dems, some wanted to carry on with their own party, and some wanted to leave behind party politics altogether.  The obvious compromise between those three positions would have been to persevere with Change UK as an independent force, but negotiate an electoral pact with the Lib Dems.  And I'm not sure it's true that the Lib Dems would no longer have been interested after the European election result, because Change UK would still have brought eleven MPs to the table, including some bigger personalities than the Lib Dems have in their own ranks.

One thing we know for sure now is that Nigel Farage would beat Chuka Umunna in a game of chess.  Farage thought several moves ahead and timed the Brexit Party's entry onto the electoral stage to perfection.  Change UK's timing couldn't have been worse.  They'd probably point out that they didn't see the European elections coming - well, OK, but Farage did, and in any case it was the local elections a few weeks earlier that generated the Lib Dem momentum and snuffed out Change UK's chances of a breakthrough.  The split from Labour should either have taken place early enough to allow for participation in the local elections, or it should have been delayed for several months until the elections were safely out of the way.  By that point, they could have used their own novelty value to combat the Lib Dem surge.

I of course derive no satisfaction whatever from the fact that the loathsome Chris Leslie and Mike Gapes don't seem to realise that the decision they've just made to soldier on in a rump fringe party means that their parliamentary careers are drawing inexorably to a close.

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2019 Scot Goes Pop Fundraiser: This is Day 6 of the fundraiser, and so far £3575 has been raised. That's 42% of the way towards the target figure of £8500. A million thanks to everyone who has donated so far, and I'm also extremely grateful to all the people who have left a kind comment with their donation. You can visit the fundraising page HERE.

24 comments:

  1. The Change UK mob are all minted just like the SDP gang were. Shirley is still collecting her 300 quid a day.

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    1. Hi GWC, have you chipped in to the SGP fundraiser yet or are you just a 'scrounging waster living off the backs of other hard working Scots'?

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    2. Robin of LocksleyJune 5, 2019 at 9:55 PM

      Purse. Cordelia and purses.

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  2. The Tory leadership result will have a notable effect on things; if simply as the final straw for some.

    As it stands, a racist, incompetent buffoon of Trumpesque proportions is front runner to be PM of the UK. How very far the UK has fallen.

    It's always like this at the end of course, but sometimes it's hard to believe we are living though it (the final days of Britain / the British empire).

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  3. The current polls would indicate that the SNP would be in a very strong position if there were to be an early general election. It would undoubtedly work to our advantage. However, it seems unlikely Conservative Turkeys will vote for Christmas so Boris, if it is Boris, will try to deliver Brexit and hope for sunnier days in a year or two.

    Still it is worth keeping the powder ready just in case we need to muster quickly.

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    1. Yes, but the problem for him is that it may be impossible to deliver Brexit without it being a No Deal Brexit, and if he goes down that road it would probably trigger an early general election anyway, because it would only take a handful of Remainer Tories to bring the government down. If Chuka and co end up in the Lib Dems, they would also have to follow any instruction from the Lib Dem whip to vote down the government on a motion of no confidence.

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    2. A no deal is best. We do not have to put a penny more into their corrupt purse.

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    3. Robin of LocksleyJune 5, 2019 at 7:22 PM

      Do you like putting things into "purses"?
      Whose "purse" do you like best?
      Cordelia likes "purse".

      Delete
  4. I see Trump is officially visiting Ireland tomorrow. He'll be reminding the Irish how the US is 100% behind the GFA & backstop, whether that's the Republican Irish lobby or the democrats.

    Deal or no deal, N. Ireland's staying in the single market and full EU free movement zone.

    It doesn't matter jack shit who's PM next. If brexit goes ahead, the UK starts to break up in earnest. There is no way out of this.

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    1. Poor skier you are certainly kicking the erse oot of the Belfast Agreement and so called backstop. When we leave the EU the baws in the court of the EU and Paddy. They either set up border controls or not.

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    2. Robin of LocksleyJune 5, 2019 at 7:23 PM

      Purse.
      Cordelia and purses.

      Delete
    3. Aye A ken GWC. Brexit is not a about Britain taking control of its borders and ending free movement. Naw, its aboot leaving the only border it has wide open aw the way tae Turkey.

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    4. judging by his press conference I very much doubt he did....

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    5. LOL. Aye. He's a man that does mix his words!

      https://www.irishpost.com/news/irish-american-group-donald-trump-obligations-northern-ireland-peace-process-167763

      The Irish republican lobby + democrats are more than enough to ensure that N. Ireland will be staying firmly in the single market + full EU free movement zone; the only practical way to preserve the GFA as written and agreed to by the peoples of the island.

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    6. ROI representatives missing from the Normandy Landing Commemoration. Sad that most Yanks are not educated on the ROI friendship with Adolf.

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    7. After the British killed, raped and burned their way through Ireland, you can understand the reluctance to take orders from any Brutal empire building state, be that the British butchers or the Germany third reich.

      They did however get bombed by the Germans often enough, while breaking neutrality conventions to e.g. let the Allies use the Donegal Corridor. And of course, I understand, it was Irish supplied weather reports that gave the final ok for the D-day landings.

      Oh, and lots of Irishmen died on the beaches of Normandy, just as many served in other positions in the allied armies, like e.g. my gran; an anti-aircraft gunner.

      When down in London signing up for that, nobody would give her a room because she was 'Mick Scum'. Eventually, the German wife of an Englishman gave her a place to stay.

      You have no respect at all for those that fought and died in the wars, that much is obvious.

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    8. That's the funny thing GWC. My gran was technically British. At least after the partitioning. My grandad Scots, a policeman in the province; he was military police during the war.

      When getting my Irish passport, I noted that by the time their marriage was entered into the register, just a couple of days after the event in Ballymena, they were both back 'In Lowestoft on active war service'.

      They were both pro-Scottish indy, at least in later life, and in a good part due to the racist abuse you gave them when they were down in England defending the UK during the war GWC. Your history of breaking up Britain spans many generations.

      Delete
    9. Robin of LocksleyJune 6, 2019 at 9:35 AM

      Purse.
      Cordelia and purses.

      Delete
  5. Out of interest, did Farage, leader of the Brexit party and president of the AfD (and other far right parties in the EFDD) in the EU parliament, attend the D-day commemorations?

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  6. No why would he?

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    1. Yes, with his AfD links / position, I suppose he'd not want to.

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  7. Am I right in understanding that Scots soldiers charged the beaches at Normandie so Scots could vote democratically for an independence referendum, but have England 'refuse permission' for that under threat of legal enforcement?

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  8. I think it was something to do with ending the torture and mass murder of millions of people.

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    1. Was it not to do with allowing European countries to choose their own governments freely as well?

      After all, the German Nazis were telling e.g. the Danes that 'You can't have an independence referendum without our permission!'.

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