Friday, October 24, 2014

Salmond's potential return to Westminster - the impact?

I must admit that until I caught up with last night's Question Time, I had given very little credence to the speculation that Alex Salmond might return to Westminster next year.  But now, I'm almost inclined to go to the other extreme and wonder if what we're seeing is the acting out of choreography that was devised weeks ago, meaning there is a careful plan in place for Salmond's post-resignation role, which may be bigger than we previously thought.  If he is indeed about to embark on a Commons comeback, I suppose the big question is whether it will be on the same basis as the last time, ie. as SNP group leader.  We should certainly hope so, because he is the greatest political talent of his generation (probably across the whole of these islands), and given that he's only 59 years old, it would be a terrible waste if the SNP couldn't continue to make use of his skills in some kind of formal leadership role.  It worked between 2001 and 2004 - Salmond's leadership in the Westminster group didn't prevent John Swinney establishing himself as the party leader (of course in some ways Swinney wasn't a very successful leader, but that can hardly be put down to his being overshadowed by his predecessor).

I know it might seem a bit harsh on Angus Robertson, but if the SNP do make big gains next year, being the deputy leader of a much-expanded group wouldn't be such a bad consolation prize!  I suppose it could be argued that it doesn't really matter whether Salmond is officially the group leader or not, because the London media will go to him anyway.  But in a sense that's a circular point - if you're going to be treated as the group leader, why not actually be the group leader?

Either way, presumably the thinking is that Salmond will be a powerful voice in London for maximum devolution, and will not be so easily ignored as others.  If we get lucky and the SNP hold the balance of power next May, he would undoubtedly be a key player in the negotiations.

Just as important is what this means for the election campaign next spring.  If Salmond is going to be a candidate, there is good reason to think that he will be much more prominent on our TV screens than previously seemed likely - and that can only be a good thing.  Theoretically, you could even make the case for him being the SNP's representative in whatever debates the party is graciously permitted to participate in, although I would guess they'd be more likely to want Sturgeon there to establish her as the new leader.

If nothing else, a Salmond candidacy will automatically increase the national vote for the SNP and/or Devo Max Alliance by 0.1% or so - because he'll take a hefty personal vote with him, regardless of which constituency he stands in.

*  *  *


Thankfully, Labour overtaking the SNP in the Populus subsample a few days ago turned out to be a blip.  All of the subsamples since, including the latest one from Populus, have had the SNP well ahead.  The new update of the Poll of Polls is based on the Scottish subsamples from seven GB-wide polls - four from YouGov, two from Populus and one from Ashcroft.  Apart from seeing the SNP back above the psychological 40% threshold, it's also notable for being the first time that the Greens have overtaken UKIP in the Poll of Polls.

Scottish voting intentions for the May 2015 UK general election :

SNP 42.0% (+3.2)
Labour 26.1% (+0.3)
Conservatives 16.0% (-3.4)
Liberal Democrats 6.0% (-1.8)
Greens 4.7% (+1.8)
UKIP 3.7% (-1.7)

(The Poll of Polls uses the Scottish subsamples from all GB-wide polls that have been conducted entirely within the last seven days and for which datasets have been provided, and also all full-scale Scottish polls that have been conducted at least partly within the last seven days. Full-scale polls are given ten times the weighting of subsamples.)


  1. "I suppose it could be argued that it doesn't really matter whether Salmond is officially the group leader or not, because the London media will go to him anyway."

    I would've thought it's quite likely *all* the media will go to him. There's a risk he'll come to be seen, to some extent, as Blair to Sturgeon's McConnell. It would also be better if we took this opportunity to let some new faces come forward in the party, and his continued lingering will detract from the chances of that happening.

    So it's a daft idea, basically.

    If he does do it, I wonder where he'll stand. I expect he would walk any seat in the north-east. Gordon seems the most likely candidate.

  2. I disagree, Keaton. We've practically had a joint leadership for the last few years, with Sturgeon not being overshadowed even as deputy. It seems extremely unlikely to me that she'll be overshadowed when she actually is the leader! It would be a terrible waste not to have a proper role for Salmond - if he's willing to do it, of course.

  3. I think its a great strategic move ,with Nicola holding the fort ,Alec can go about creating mischief in the rogues house ,Giving a hard time to the posh boys and fighting our corner ,not only in the HOC but also on fleet street where perhaps we can turn a few to the cause
    if his recent performance on QT is anything to go by ,there will be a few people not looking forward to AS coming back to the HOC

  4. James

    I would be for this move, he is too young to retire and too good to be lost at a time when we have the worst bunch of self serving clowns at Westminster in my life time. Would love to see him taking his chances to rip them new ones when he could.

  5. I think if you watch Salmond's resignation speech with fresh eyes and listen out for what he's not saying, it's clear this was a plan cooked up on the morning of the 19th as the SNP saw their membership surge by thousands within a few hours.

    There is very certainly a plan afoot, holding Westminster's feet to the fire is what the focus has been in terms of language used since the resignation speech - he's the only politician who stands a chance of actually doing so - of course he's going back.

    If you rewatch the interview he did with Andrew Neil shortly after the result, you'll see Andrew knew back then he was going back to Westminster, again it's what he's not saying and what he's not pressed to answer, it's fab, we're in for an exciting few months.

    But first, the SNP team is being established, Nicola, new deputy party leader, possibly a new depute first minister too, plus Salmond as the party elder statesman who is now borderline untouchable, and you have the most electable, most democratic political party in the uk.

    Clever ;)

  6. It makes sense to me. I think Salmond will stand for Westminster next year, and it will probably be in the Gordon constituency. It will give Sturgeon space to develop her own leadership, although he will still presumably be a MSP as well. If Stuart Hosie wins the deputy leadership, then that could be a little awkward, as Salmond will get most of the media attention down in London. Keith Brown is still the favourite. It would give the SNP another boost if Salmond stands for Westminster. I think they will go for Devo max.

  7. It always made sense he would go south. He was always well suited to Westminster politics, and remaining in Holyrood would cast too much of a shadow over Sturgeon.

    That's why I voted for Constance over Hosie - no point having the deputy leader in Westminster if Salmond is there.

    Imagine the polls as they now are remain - I know its very unlikely, but 40 SNP MPs would have a very good chance of holding the balance of power.

    Deputy Prime Minister Salmond?
    Oh ya fecker!

  8. Dear God! Has anyone else seen the comedy gold from the incompetent fop today with his wonderful hissy fit over Europe?

    It is SUPERB! :-D

    This is not, I repeat NOT a spoof. The out of touch twit really did say this.

    "you don't need a Cluedo set to know that someone has been clubbed with a lead pipe in the library"


    Even tory Eurosceptic MPs (those staggeringly gullible fools Cameron has taken the piss out of time and time again) must realise his hilarious and cowardly flouncing is desperate and meaningless posturing to try and appease them. John Major must be laughing pretty damn hard right now.

    Salmond will annihilate these out of touch twits if he goes back in to the commons. Well worth looking forward to.

  9. Gordon is the most likely seat, but I wonder if he'll throw a curve-ball and stand against Charles Kennedy. Probably the only way the SNP would win that seat.

  10. Nah, he wouldn't stand against Charles, he's still thought of well by so many people, it would be needlessly antagonistic. He's playing the role of elder statesman now, not provocative wee upstart

  11. Standing against Kennedy, or in an equally tough seat, would mirror the 2007 strategy. Boldness and audacity, not antagonism. I agree it's unlikely, but still an interesting thought.

  12. Surprised you lower yourself to watch Question time.

    Its many many years now since I stopped watching this unionist biased drivel, with its planted questions and specially chosen studio audiences!

    You will be telling us next you watch misreporting north britain-shame on you if you do sir!

  13. Just scratching my head here. Didn't Labour 'win the iref'?

    Johann Lamont to stand down as Scottish Labour leader

    Johann Lamont is to stand down as leader of the Scottish Labour Party, BBC Scotland understands.

    Her resignation is expected to be confirmed on Saturday.


  14. Salmond claims another.

  15. @Scottish_Skier

    She's been dead in the water ever since the labour conference. Little Ed and his sycophantic chums didn't even try to hide that they wanted her out on her arse right quick.

    Their problem was always that nobody wanted to stick their head in the noose to replace her. Murphy wanted back in the shadow cabinet, not cleaning up the mess and trying to hold back the tide with SNP membership soaring and tripling. Brown wants to make even more cash, probably in the U.S. like Blair did, so that was always a silly idea.

    Lamont tried to hit back by at little Ed and their London leadership by demanding a wee bit more autonomy and they promptly told her where she could stick that. So she's jumped before she was pushed and left the London Labour Leadership to try and pick up the pieces as they scramble around manically trying to find someone to replace her.

    as you so rightly say..



  16. My first words to my wife as we sat listening to his resignation speech was He's going to Westminster watch this space, we'll have UDI before long.
    I don't think the no voters really realised or understood what they were unleasing. This is the last years of a United Kingdom which ever way it happens.

  17. You could see in the first post indyref interviews, he had a plan up his sleeve.

    I think he'll most definitely stand for WM judging by last night's comments.

    How many leaders now is that have left since he's been FM?

  18. I am astonished at Mrs Graham's resignation. Didn't see that one coming.

    Re AS - is he playing at musical seats? If he does decide to go back to Westminster then Gordon would be the seat to try for as he cannot get Banff and Buchan. A good part of the Gordon Westminster seat is in his East Aberdeenshire Holyrood seat.

  19. Devastated at seeing Johann Lamont go. Now let's see Labour implode in Scotland!