Friday, October 10, 2014

What does UKIP's breakthrough mean for Scotland?

Oddly enough, I didn't see Ruth Davidson tweeting the words "Well done, Clacks!" this time.  The Tories' crushing defeat in the Clacton by-election is a landmark moment in UK politics - it's easy to lose sight of that in the midst of post-referendum fever, but it's true.  It's on a par with Hamilton 1967 as marking the moment that a one-time fringe party entered parliament, never to leave (or never on any imaginable timescale).  Even if we assume the most pessimistic scenario for UKIP at next year's general election, they will at least retain the one seat that they now have.  Douglas Carswell clearly has an enormous personal vote, and to be fair it's not hard to understand why - leaving aside some of his political views, he seems like a decent enough bloke, and now that he's made his move there's suddenly such a thing as "the sane wing of UKIP".

The likelihood of the party system in the House of Commons fragmenting further has increased significantly with this result, and that will offer a huge opportunity for the SNP and Plaid Cymru in the coming years to use the seemingly improbable Westminster route to bring about radical change.  We could well be heading for an Indian-style situation where we retain the God-awful first-past-the-post voting system, and yet still end up with the PR-type outcome of a hung parliament in every future general election, thus enabling small parties to squeeze substantial concessions out of the larger ones.  To understand how profoundly things have changed, you only need to look at the way that Labour people were jumping up and down with joy last night at the news that YouGov were putting them ahead of the Tories by 35% to 30%.  I mean, seriously?  35% is good news?  There was a time, as recently as the 1970s, when there were thoughtful people in both of the two largest London parties who realised that, notwithstanding their own personal distaste for electoral reform, serious questions of moral legitimacy arose for any single-party government that had been elected on a relatively small minority vote.  That kind of decency in Westminster politics has long gone - now Labour are quite content to win an absolute majority by a freakish quirk of the electoral system, and to hell with moral legitimacy.  Unfortunately for them, it's open to severe doubt whether they're even going to do that.

As I see it, we're now looking at a slim one-off opportunity for Labour to get a majority, because we're currently in a transitional phase where the Liberal Democrats are going to take a big hit, and where UKIP haven't yet put down enough roots to win anything more than ten seats at the absolute most.  That means a hung parliament will only come about this time if the result happens to be close enough between the two main parties.  But by the election after next, UKIP will be in line to make a second-stage breakthrough, the Lib Dems' fortunes may at least have stabilised somewhat, and the Greens might even be looking to take a few more seats.  From that point on, it may well become next to impossible for the Tories or Labour to ever win an outright majority again.

If so, the SNP will only need a little bit of luck for the cards to fall in their favour as they did in the late 1970s, when the party effectively held the balance of power with just 11 seats.  They skillfully used that arithmetical good fortune to steer the Labour government down a road that very nearly led to a devolved Scottish Assembly being established. ('Very nearly' doesn't sound terribly impressive, but it shouldn't be underestimated just how close devolution was to happening - it was probably only the unfortunate timing of the winter of discontent that thwarted it.)

And what about the other potential indirect route by which it's frequently speculated that the Scottish independence movement might reach its objective quite rapidly, namely a British exit from the EU?  It's actually hard to judge whether Clacton has brought that prospect closer or made it more distant.  Obviously the stronger and more credible that UKIP become, the more plausible it is that the "out" side could win an in/out referendum.  But a prerequisite for that referendum taking place is that there is a Tory-led government after the general election, and as tedious as the Tory warnings last night were that a UKIP surge might help Ed Miliband into Downing Street, there may be a grain of truth in that.  We generally assume that Labour can't win because the public don't take Miliband seriously as a potential PM, but if it's getting to the point where it's arithmetically possible to win a majority on 33% or 34% of the vote, just how seriously do they actually need to take him?

Suppose Labour fall short, though.  Suppose they fall so far short that their only hope of forming a government is to involve both the Lib Dems and the SNP.  That was exactly the position last time around, and it turned out that they found the idea so distasteful that they preferred to see the Tories take office.  But after five years frozen out of government, would they be hungry enough for power to deal with the SNP?  I suspect they might just be, but that poses an even bigger question : would they be prepared to make a generous enough offer, given that as things stand (incredibly) the Tories are more radical on devolution than they are?  It's an interesting one.

On the BBC results programme last night, Professor Curtice was once again expressing his scepticism about the theory that the referendum has permanently changed the game in Scotland, and said that he didn't expect the SNP to make more than a handful of gains from Labour in the Westminster election.  He may yet be proved right, because the apparent lead that the SNP hold at present will be very vulnerable to the media blackout they generally suffer in the run-up to any UK-wide contest.  But if so, Curtice is right for the wrong reasons, because he actually seems to doubt that the SNP's current position is favourable, which I struggle to tally up with the available evidence.  For starters, he's completely ignoring the almost uniform message from recent Scottish subsamples that the SNP have the lead.  Doubtless he'd justify that by pointing to the inherent unreliability of subsamples, but when they're showing such a consistent message I'm not sure that doctrine works so well.  He's also pointed a number of times to the fact that Survation's full-scale post-referendum poll showed a weakened SNP position in Westminster voting intentions, but has failed to qualify that by noting that it was a telephone poll, and therefore not directly comparable to the previous polls from the firm.  For some reason he has also failed to call out the obvious flaw in the only other full-scale Scottish poll that has been published since the referendum, namely that it used the discredited procedure of weighting by 2010 vote recall (although even then it still managed to produce a small SNP lead over Labour).

Whether Curtice is right or wrong, though, we mustn't lose sight of the fact that the SNP still have a golden chance to make significant gains at the election even if Labour hold everything they have.  There really is very little doubt that there will be huge swings in Lib Dem-held seats, and it's just a question of whether the SNP will be the prime beneficiary of that.  Until recently it looked almost certain that they would, but there is now a school of thought that the referendum may have decoupled a section of rural No voters from the SNP, and that the Tories might prosper instead (or indeed Labour in East Dunbartonshire).  As things stand, that's completely unknowable - the SNP's strength in the opinion polls makes it seem unlikely, but we can't be sure that a decline in support in rural areas isn't being more than offset by what might be a short-lasting surge in traditional Labour areas.  Even if that's true, though, a post-Clacton UKIP bandwagon effect is the last thing the Tories need, because a split in the right-wing vote will make it harder for them to pip the SNP in Lib Dem-held seats (and indeed in the three most vulnerable SNP-held seats).

*  *  *

The SNP have published their submission to the Smith Commission - it can be read HERE.  It's really important that as many people as possible make their own personal submission, in order to improve the negotiating hand of the SNP and the Greens.  You can find out how to make a submission by clicking HERE.


  1. I think the Smith Commission findings could also change voting patterns. For example the Tories are going to argue for all Income Tax to be collected by the SG while Labour are talking about a piddly 15%. The parties which promise least will suffer most. Although Smith will try to get agreement, there will still be a backlash against the parties which have not grasped the mood for change in Scotland. GE 1915 will be very interesting.

  2. Labour's position on extra powers is indeed pathetic.
    Tories starting position is 100% income tax and a share of VAT.

    Going into a Westminster election, offering even less powers than the Tories !!

    How is that going to play here?

    "Vote Labour to stop the Tories - and get less powers for Scotland !!"

    Ed Miliband has no Scottish connection either.. unlike Brown of Blair.

    They are there for the taking.

  3. I know you are probably right and we should submit our views to the Smith Commission; I have a great deal of respect for your views as they are always carefully thought through and well argued. However, I just can't seem to get past the repulsion I have for this bone which they have thrown us and for which so many people were willing to scrabble in the dust. I don't want to lend it any credence by participating in the process.

  4. The thought of the rural no vote turning to the Tories is an interesting one, however I wonder how many hardcore unionists ever voted for the SNP anyway.

  5. Hate to rain on your Parade, James but, the Heywood & Middleton one was even more interesting.

    The "victim" was the Labour Party whose supporters didn't even bother to vote and UKIP came damn near to picking up that one too.

    UKIP jumped up by about 10.000 and Labour and the Tories somehow lost about 10,000 votes each. Remember this is Labour seat where, like Glasgow, they usually just weighed their vote.

    A by election it may be but to take votes, probably, from both the two main UK parties is not normal.

    It makes, on its own anyway, it much difficult to predict the result of the UK GE.

    The Clacton one was expected, so I believe and when the other ex-Tory has his chance there may be tow UKIPers in Wastemonster.

    The UK GE result in 2015 could end up a bloody nightmare for all but UKIP and maybe the SNP, if they can perform strongly.

    Vote Tory, get UKIP
    Vote Labour, get UKIP

  6. Natasha You have to live life as it is not as you wish it were. Pique will get us nowhere.

  7. The genie, is, perhaps out of the bottle?

    Whilst I, and much of the commentariat, felt that pointing out the failings of both the UK Conservative Party and their Labour equivalents would be enough to win the referendum, it obviously wasn't.

    There may well be a 'cuddly bear', 'comfort blanket' vote within the Scottish electorate. Hence why we lost.

    I would hazard that that might be torn apart if UKIP makes substantial advances at the next GE.

    Whether our politics would be a wasteland, if UKIP became influential, well it seems to me that Hollyrood would hang on a shakey nail. According to their lights the UK should be a unitary state.

    This is what the political elite have won, a wasteland and they call it a victory.

  8. @James Coleman
    I honestly don't think it's pique; what I feel is much deeper than that. Pique is something you experience when someone offends your pride. The devastation I felt - and to a certain extent still feel - after the 18th was like having my heart ripped out.

    I perfectly understand your argument, and I absolutely agree that you have to focus on the end goal, but sometimes a course of action, although outwardly pragmatic or expedient, can actually be a real violation of your principles. That's how I feel about this, and I can't pretend otherwise. Sorry to appear so emotional, but there it is!

    By the way, I have had a lot of experience in dealing with life as it is rather than as I would like it to be; believe me, you wouldn't want to know the half of it.

  9. To be honest, I don't think the Smith Commission will make a great deal of deal of difference to anything. It's really only a handful of political anoraks like us that even know about the thing.

  10. You were a Better Together activist, weren't you, Stoat, unless I'm confusing you with someone else? I'm not sure what such cynicism about the Smith Commission says about the credibility of "The Vow"...

  11. I'm with Natasha in that it's not pique. It's lamentation. I've been re-reading Walter Brueggemann's "Hopeful Imagination" on the theology of exile. Sounds mad, I know, but for anybody who's into that kind of thing, his commentary (Chapters 1 & 2) on the Babylonian exile in Jeremiah is incredibly appropriate to these times. WB argues that lamentation is essential in order to open up renewed avenues of the imagination, and therefore, hope.

  12. Craid Murray sums the two by elections up in the first paragraph of his latest blog.

    "In Heywood and Middleton, a classic Labour northern English seat, UKIP and the Tories combined got 51% of the vote. In Clacton – a deprived coastal area – the Conservatives and UKIP got 83% of the vote."

  13. Turning to the Smith Revue, I think it is just a classic Westminster block of inedible Fudge.

    More smoke, more mirrors, satisfies nobody, so has to have done the job, wot?

    The Tories have nothing to lose in Scotland and Labour, everything. Win-win for the Tories, so long as Scotland keeps sending the oil revenues south.

    Whatever Smoth comes up with will all unravel, sooner or later. If he "gives" too much Labour will squeel and the swivel eyed Tory faction will go ape shit. If to little the Great Unwashed of Tartan Taliban will be taking to the streets and chapping on doors, again and again.

    The Union is finished, the question is just when and how.

  14. Re submissions to Smith, I think the unionists will be hoping that we'll all sit back and do nothing. The fewer submissions they get demanding that they keep their own promises for Home Rule, the more they'll be able to use the excuse that the people of Scotland aren't that fussed anyway. So they'll renege even further on their promises, give us some horrible cat turd of a thing, tell us we should be grateful, and we'll all be left in a worse position than usual. But if thousands of us put in submissions demanding that they keep their promises then it'll give our side a strong authority from the Scottish people and make the unionists look all the more treacherous when they refuse to keep their own promises. That'll also make it a damn sight harder for them to use the same lies when indyref2 comes up. It's worth a go anyway, let's not make it any easier for them to cheat us than it needs to be, is what I say.

    As for UKIP - it looks like they're gaining voters from both the red and the blue tories. I'm hoping that will help us send more indy reps to Westminster by splitting the unionist vote, which will annoy UKIP no end!

  15. By de-coupling of the rural no vote I assume you are thinking that SNP seats like Angus and Perthshire may return to the Tory fold!

    To be honest I was amazed and disappointed that so much of the SNP's so called heartland voted "No" so convincingly. By that I mean Angus, Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen and Perthshire. If the SNP can now only count on Dundee then it has a problem indeed, even if it takes Dundee West.

    Why would the rural vote go for the Tories and risk being dumped out of the EU by England and the loss of farming subsidies that would cause?

  16. A good bulk of the Heywood and Middleton votes were postal votes which given that Labour would do well in these means that UKIP polled better than Labour on the day. Labour who were very confident after the polls closed no doubt of the back of the postal vote sampling then started to worry. That is something to worry Labour if they cannot out poll the opposition on the day in a traditional Labour seat. Their vote is softer than we thought.

  17. Marcia, maybe UKIP used a more sophisticated postal voting algorithm?

  18. In the debate about areas where the SNP do well but voted NO, I am not that concerned as people vote SNP for a variety of reasons, personal votes, Devo Max people in addition to Independence supporters. Alex Salmond aside we don't get over 50% regularly in the seat of the SNP Westminster seats. Hopefully the new influx of SNP members in these seats will help the on the ground campaigning up to polling day to get near or over 50%.

  19. Bugger Le Panda

    I doubt if they had an effective electoral machine for that as they would have very few previous canvass information to go on compared to Labour. The time between the death of the Labour MP and the by-election was not that long for them to build up enough information. The electoral tide on the day was in UKIP's favour helped no doubt by the political wing of the UKIP, the BBC.

  20. @Marcia
    I really liked that comment about the BBC being the political wing of the UKIP!

    I love the 'Smoth' thing; was it intentional or just a typo? I also relish the thought of being on of the Great Unwashed of Tartan Taliban.

    Thank you Alistair McIntosh. It's so comforting when someone puts their finger on what the problem is.

  21. I think we all need to consider the practical and beneficial side of the UKIP emergence.

    UKIP is essentially an English Party.

    I think pro Independence factions need to get UKIP to answer the following;

    1. In the event that an EU referendum is held and the vote is to leave the EU, should Scotland have a second referendum vote?


    2. In the event England votes to leave the EU whilst Scotland votes to remain in the EU should that be considered a vote by Scotland to leave the UK?

    I think it is possible that a UK vote could show the English want to leave the EU but there might be a large enough vote in Scotland to keep the UK in the EU!!

    The failed YES vote has created enough problems but if Scotland ends up keeping England in the EU it will only get worse!!

    Basically I think there is common ground between the SNP and UKIP in that Scotland should have self determination with regards to the UK and England should have self determination with regards to the EU.

  22. @George
    Yuk! Common ground between the SNP and the UKIP? Over my dead body! :-)

  23. @Natasha, if an understanding could be reached with UKIP that meant England leaves the EU if thats what the English want and the Scots leaving the UK if the English leave the EU, that is indeed something to break bread over.

    The tragedy would be if the English leave the EU and pull Scotland with it OR England remains stuck in the EU against its majority wish because of the Scottish vote to stay in the EU.

    My goal is to see an independent Scotland that is on good terms with its "three nation neighbors."

    At some point in time, UKIP may be the key to the box.

  24. No powers of any consequence will be devolved by London EVER, let me assure you. The revenues from whisky and oil are simply too enormous to let go of. If London lost these enormous revenues, the UK would be instantly bankrupt! London has already been forward spending the proceeds of oil and whisky for years now-how do you think cross rail, m25, and multitudes of other grandiose projects benefiting no-one but southern england have been financed, ffs!!

    The ONLY way Scotland is to move forward would be to “chip round the edges” of the remaining 5% we require to bring us up to 50% yes- however, most Scots regard the union as a comfort blanket and their mindset will not change-the younger Scots will be our salvation.

    Forget this commission-its only purpose is to delay, obscure, and ultimately deliver sfa to the Scottish peoples.

    Another referendum in, say, 3 or 4 years should do the trick!

  25. If the Vow is broken then they can all take a running fcuk at the referendum result! how's that!!!

  26. "The tragedy would be if the English leave the EU and pull Scotland with it OR England remains stuck in the EU against its majority wish because of the Scottish vote to stay in the EU."

    The chances of the Scottish vote being the deciding factor in an EU referendum are extremely low. What tends to happen here is we overstate how large the difference is between Scotland and rUK on the EU issue (Scotland is more in favour of the EU than England, but not by the kind of margin required to make a big difference when you factor in population). For instance a 52-48% margin in rUK, with an estimated 30 million turnout, would be a difference of around 1.2 million votes (so over three times the winning margin in the indyref, which had a record turnout). Just isn't going to happen.

    In fact if you look at the polling I doubt if push came to shove an EU referendum would even be particularly close - another 55-45% to stay in would be a conservative estimate in my view, particularly if the Tories were the ones in government. And that's a good thing because even if Scotland were independent we'd still be closely integrated economically with rUK and would have nothing to gain from them being outside the EU.

    UKIP and the SNP are only similar on a superficial level. They both stand on a platform of populist blame politics whereby getting rid of an external influence is assumed to be a silver bullet for society's problems. Beyond that they have next to nothing in common and I can hardly envisage any possible situation in which the two of them could work together.

  27. Correct James, I was the Better Together activist you were thinking of. My feelings regarding the Smith Commission were more in regards to how the average voter would look at it. I can't imagine that the average voter would take a great deal of notice of it, they would probably see it just a load of arcane constitutional mumbo jumbo, assuming they've even heard of it in the first place.

  28. Anon at 6.35pm : That kind of absolutist thinking will get us absolutely nowhere. We have to take the gradualist approach, engage with the Smith Commission and use the general election to push for more powers. There are two reasons for that - a) it might actually work to some extent and produce at least some of the powers we want, and b) being seen to respect the result for now and push for more powers within the UK is precisely the way to "chip round the edges" of the 5% we need, and indeed to hold on to the 45% of people who actually voted Yes.

  29. "In fact if you look at the polling I doubt if push came to shove an EU referendum would even be particularly close - another 55-45% to stay in would be a conservative estimate in my view"

    I presume that's "if you look at the polling and then make an adjustment based on speculative assumptions about how the campaign might play out". To the best of my knowledge, the only pollster that has even been showing the tiniest of majorities for staying in the EU is YouGov.

    On your earlier point, the difference between Scottish and UK views on the EU may not be overwhelming, but it is significant all the same. If there was a narrow vote to leave the EU throughout the UK as a whole, it seems inevitable to me that Scotland would have gone the other way.

  30. Stoat : But that's different to the point you originally made - you said that you doubted the Smith Commission would make much difference to anything. The UK parties promised extensive powers would be transferred, and then set up the Smith Commission to define the scope of those powers. By definition, then, it will make a big difference, unless we're being completely misled. Whether people have heard of it is neither here nor there.

    The way you've expressed your cynicism about both the Smith Commission and also the chances of the Wee Blue Book persuading anyone to vote Yes remind me a bit of the notorious "BT lady" ad - the message seems to be that nothing makes any difference to anything, so just shut up and eat your cereal.

  31. I guess it depends on what our definition of "Big" means when we're talking about big differences. I suspect that a generous helping of fudge will be the order of the day. The unionist parties will try make it look like the most radical constitutional revolution mankind has ever known while the SNP will scream blue murder about how the Scottish people are being lied to and misled by the grand unionist cabal. Meanwhile the rest of the public will be sat in front of the TV watching something much more entertaining.

    As for my cynicism, I suppose I am guilty of that, but not without good reason. Detailed constitutional arguments are wasted on most people. Let's face it, the white paper was never going to take its place on anybody's bedside cabinet (Outside of the already converted and maybe the odd egghead academic type) and even the Wee Blue Book was more than most people wanted to read. Most people just want a quick little summary, put the mark on the ballot paper and just get on with their lives.

  32. I just have a fundamentally different worldview, Stoat. What you've just said reminds me of Tavish Scott claiming a few years ago that nobody in Scotland gave "two hoots" about an independence referendum - the thing that went on to generate unprecedented public engagement and the highest turnout since the introduction of universal suffrage.

    As for the Wee Blue Book, there's huge anecdotal evidence that it converted people who weren't remotely impressed by the normal bland/condescending leaflets. It's a revelation, but some people do actually respond more intelligently when they are treated as intelligent human beings. Then again, that was a lesson Thomas Paine taught us two-and-a-half centuries ago.

  33. Hi everybody, it's dr nick!

    Just to say don't know where panda gets the idea middleton and wotsit was about labour losing votes. They kept their share of the vote on a smaller turnout which by-elections always have. The UKIP surge was entirely down to the conservative and lib dem vote collapsing - those two parties had 50% of the vote in the 2010 results, and 17% last week.,_2014

    Trust me, i was right about the referendum after all.

  34. Sounds like one of our friendly neighbourhood trolls has had a bit too much to drink.

  35. There's certainly no doubt that the high stakes made many more people focus on the referendum, people who otherwise didn't involve themselves in politics. Yet I don't think the levels of engagement were quite as high as many people think. From my own experiences, I met so many voters (Some of them very determined to vote) who had no idea about the arguments for or against independence. Many of them were very anxious about the implications of independence. Of course, their votes are worth just as much as any other so it was always clear to me that I would be better off focusing on them rather than concerning myself with passionate, engaged Yes supporters. It's best to stay away from activist bubbles as passion and engagement count for nothing at the ballot box.

    I heard a lot of anecdotal evidence of the Wee Blue Book changing minds. I also heard that twitter was abuzz on referendum day with tales from people about how their friend/dad/aunt/whatever was going to vote no but just couldn't do it when faced with the question in the polling station. I'm sure you could also find anecdotal evidence from the medieval era of witches. I don't take too much notice of anecdotes.

  36. Then you're very foolish. The difference with the anecdotes about people who couldn't bring themselves to vote No in the polling station (and that was undoubtedly going on) is that we were only hearing one side of the story - that was being more than offset by undecideds breaking for No, and by differential turnout. But with people who were converted by the Wee Blue Book, that's a zero sum game, and there's no missing information.

    On your earlier point : yes, absolutely, people who were less well-informed and who had thought about the issues less were disproportionately likely to be No voters. That's something we've pointed out all along. It's our own failing that we failed to engage the brains of quite enough people, but what I find somewhat less credible is the notion that we should have attempted to do that with more bland leaflets, rather than with more Wee Blue Books (or an equivalent).

  37. @James "I presume that's "if you look at the polling and then make an adjustment based on speculative assumptions about how the campaign might play out". To the best of my knowledge, the only pollster that has even been showing the tiniest of majorities for staying in the EU is YouGov."

    I suggest you look at the polling in more detail. The June poll from YouGov, for instance, had a 55-45% lead for the stay in side - not exactly a "tiny majority" - but more important is the issue of renegotiation.

    Cameron's policy is to renegotiate membership and put it to a referendum. That's precisely what we did in 1975 - we had a very minor "renegotiation" (which amounted to nothing of any substance), put it to a referendum, and the stay in side won comfortably.

    If you look at the polling on that scenario it isn't even close - the aforementioned poll in June had an almost absurdly lopsided 72-28% split for staying in if it came after a renegotiation (once don't knows are excluded). When the issue is getting that kind of response years away from a potential vote and when UKIP are surging in the polls it's not much of a stretch to bet on the "stay in" side winning.

  38. "The June poll from YouGov, for instance, had a 55-45% lead for the stay in side - not exactly a "tiny majority""

    That was the outlier, wasn't it? Others have been much narrower. Are you employing some kind of counterintuitive "golden rule" that the most extreme outlier is more reliable than the average?

    As for polls asking voters to imagine how they'll react after some hypothetical, undefined renegotiation - forget it. Those numbers are utterly meaningless.

  39. If the SNP/Yes movement didn't exist, I imagine UKIP would be a lot bigger in Scotland than it is. Obviously, the two parties don't tap into the exact same kind of sentiment. But both draw from a working-class feeling of disillusionment with the main Westminster parties, and a juxtaposition of a familiar "us" to a foreign "them" (London or Brussels).

    The immigration issue that UKIP capitalises on is not because the English are inherently more racist or more prone to far-right thinking than Scots are - it's just immigration is a far larger issue in England than it is in Scotland, which receives far fewer immigrants. There are several cities in England (London, Bradford, Slough, and others) where the majority of the population is not ethnically English. Scotland is more tolerant of immigration than the RUK simply because it has less of an experience of it.

    I've never really understood why Scottish nationalists love the EU so much. Why become "independent" but then hand over your independence to the EU? It makes no sense whatsoever. Same goes for nationalists in Wales and Catalonia. Atleast many of the nationalists in Veneto and Flanders are, I understand, anti-EU.

  40. "I've never really understood why Scottish nationalists love the EU so much. Why become "independent" but then hand over your independence to the EU?"

    Jesus. How many times have we heard that old chestnut? We're already in the EU. Can you honestly not understand how being an independent state within the EU, as opposed to being just a region of another state within the EU, marks a huge advance in self-government?

    As for your earlier point, it's true that there is a substantial working-class element to UKIP's support. There is also a substantial middle-class (and in many cases No-voting) element to the SNP's support. If the SNP's vote really was based exclusively on working-class Yes voters, they'd have cleaned up in Glasgow long ago, and would never have got anywhere in the rural northeast.

    It may be an uncomfortable truth for you, but a lot of people who would be natural UKIP voters in England are still with Labour in Scotland - and that's because there is something about UKIP that looks fundamentally alien to Scottish eyes.