Sunday, November 2, 2014

It's official - the SNP are projected to be the third-largest party in the next House of Commons. The broadcasters' plan to exclude them from the leaders' debates is now utterly untenable.

Here is the current forecast for next year's general election result from the UK-Elect website -

Labour 291
Conservatives 265
SNP 38
Liberal Democrats 23
Sinn Féin 5
Plaid Cymru 3
Greens 3
Others 2

This not only means that the SNP are expected to be comfortably the third-largest party in the next House of Commons, but also that they are predicted to hold the balance of power.  Realistically, the only game in town would be a coalition or deal between Labour and the SNP, because neither a Labour/Lib Dem nor a Tory/Lib Dem coalition would be able to command a majority.

Now, of course, there are various forecasting models, and the above numbers are only derived from one.  But based on the current information from polls, there is absolutely no credible model out there that would not have the SNP in third place.  38 is actually quite a conservative projection for the SNP's haul of seats - the Ipsos-Mori poll suggested they would have 54.

A UK general election is a parliamentary election - it's first and foremost a race to win the greatest number of seats in parliament.  So how on Earth can any public service broadcaster propose to hold leaders' debates during such an election that include the parties that are projected to win the fourth and fifth largest number of seats, but totally exclude the party that is projected to win the third largest number of seats?  How can it do so especially given that it knows that in all probability its decision will directly lead to the eventual result of that election being completely different from what it would have been if nature had been allowed to take its course?  Just where do the broadcasters get the extraordinary self-confidence to set themselves up as the Gods of the electoral process in this way, with the freedom to make utterly arbitrary decisions that determine who governs us and the laws we must obey?  Doesn't it trouble them, even for a moment, that they are tarnishing the UK's status as an advanced democracy capable of holding free and fair elections?

The BBC in particular have been resorting to desperately weak circular logic to justify the unjustifiable.  The SNP are projected to be the third largest party, ahead of the Liberal Democrats and UKIP?  Oh well, we don't only look at the current projections, we also have to look at the strength of each party at the last election.  But at the last election, the SNP won six seats, and UKIP won zero?  Oh well, we also have to take the polls into account.  But it's precisely those polls that have given rise to the projections putting the SNP in third place?  Oh well, we can't just look at one or two individual polls, we also have to look at the longer-term polling trend.  But there has never been a time when the polling average hasn't suggested that UKIP would finish with fewer seats than the SNP?  Oh stop being so bloody difficult will you, we're paid good money to come up with convincing excuses for the decision we've made on a whim to include Farage and exclude Sturgeon, and you're not making this easy for us!

By all means let's make sure it's not easy for them.  In an effort to look reasonable and open-minded while not actually budging an inch, a spokesperson mentioned yesterday that a BBC Trust consultation would shortly get underway on the guidelines that will cover the debates.  The SNP cleverly leaped on that announcement and praised it to the skies, leading rather amusingly to a different spokesperson having to backtrack furiously because it had become clear that expectations for the impact of the consultation were running out of the BBC's control.  It turns out that it's just a generic consultation for the guidelines that will cover the election period as a whole, and not specifically the leaders' debates.  But as far as I can see the debates will still fall within the remit of the consultation, so there's nothing to stop us sending in a tonne of submissions that basically say : "The main flaw in the proposed guidelines is that they do not address the need to ensure that the party projected to finish third in the general election is treated with due fairness, and is included in any leaders' debates alongside the parties that are projected to finish fourth and fifth."

We'll have to keep our eyes peeled for the start of this consultation.


  1. Good argument - this is the strongest reason for the SNP to be included and it's the right one to focus on. It's not untenable to exclude the SNP - its argument for inclusion is clearly less strong than the Conservatives' and Labour's and less strong on all measures bar this one than the Lib Dems'. Ukip's partial-inclusion is arguably justified by the sustained strength of their UK-wide support and the fact they have won an UK-wide election (amongst other factors), but on the other hand they have only one (soon two+) MPs and projections indicate it will not be a major force in parliament after the next election (although there are legitimate questions about how accurate these models are now).

    But recent developments have made it harder to justify SNP's exclusion than before. What needs to be established more clearly is what was the basis for the earlier decision and applying the same weightings and judgements, would the outcome be different now? There is a legitimate question as to how much weight you apply to current polls, as compared to the polling history since 2010. Were projections part of the decision making process? If so, were they based on current polling or longer term averages? Those are the questions.


    To continue last night's discussion. You posted this at the end of the thread: "Holy Jesus, Flockers. How can you be so brazen as to call what Salmond said "pretty bloody unequivocal" when you've just directly quoted one of the ways in which he carefully qualified what he was saying? "It's my view." He said that every time, to the best of my knowledge without exception. It was a personal view, and one that he made abundantly clear could not bind his successors or the people of Scotland. He went on to expand on that personal view by explaining that, although a referendum might be a once in a generation event, there were other potential routes to independence.

    For David Cameron to attempt to use those words out of context as an excuse to hold the Scottish people hostage is, self-evidently, arrogant, imperialistic and profoundly anti-democratic."

    I genuinely don't understand what drives you to wilfully misinterpret what leading Conservatives say. You did it with Ruth Davidson and now you're doing it with Cameron. It's like you need to feed a well of deep personal anger and injustice. Salmond said (as I directly quoted) "in his view", in response to a direct question about whether the could pledge not to bring a further referendum, that this was a once in a generation, perhaps once in a lifetime opportunity. Polling during the campaign indicates that was a common view. The people of Scotland delivered a clear verdict after a long campaign. And in his speech Cameron repeated Salmond's own unequivocal words, and attributed them to him. They were completely in context. That is not imperialistic and undemocratic. It certainly is not (that dreadful phrase again) "holding the Scots hostage". What would have been undemocratic, the day after a majority of Scottish people had voted by clear majority to remain in the UK, would be for Cameron to suggest that independence was, or should, still be on the table.

    In the same speech Cameron expressly referred to the democratic necessity of the referendum, and he also pledged to deliver the constitutional reform promised in the campaign. He did not unilaterally declare that there could never be another referendum at any point in history, nor has he sought to prevent one. He did not pretend that he could bind future parliaments, or Scotland. It was (leaving aside the game playing over EV4EL) a very good, balanced and conciliatory speech.

  2. I see the Tories are now apparently funding the Labour party, albeit through what remains of the BetterTogether kitty.

    "The venue hosting Murphy's campaign launch in Edinburgh also stated that the client for yesterday's event was Better Together."

    We already have Labour-Tory coaltions in Scotland at council level. BetterTogether was of course one too. What about 2015? We may be looking at a Labour-Tory coalition to freeze out the SNP and of course possibly UKIP.

    Labour and the Tories are very close policy-wise now; possibly soon effectively one party.

    1. Of course. It's why so many out of touch twits in the tory party and in the westmisnter bubble media are falling over themselves to support and praise the Eggman.

      Granted, the London Labour branch office are clearly none too bright or they would have seen the trap of being the frontman for the tories in the No campaign a mile off, (the polling is crystal clear about how much damage was being done to 'scottish' labour because of their chumming up to the tories in 'better together') but even the dimmest in SLAB must be beginning to wonder if having a right-wing ultra-Blairite westminster placeman imposed on them by little Ed might not be that bright an idea to stop their complete meltdown.

      The incompetent fop Cameron and his amusingly inept spinners must be praying that Murphy will win and restart the Blair Brown wars.

      It's also somewhat pertinent that the out of touch twit Cameron is facing complete and utter humiliation in Rochester thanks to his John Major like posturing and flouncing. Cameron's own backbenchers barely trust a word he says so we can dispense with hilarious spin that he's anything other than toxic in scotland or that the scottish public must somehow all trust or repsect Cameron's witless undemocratic pronouncements on the next Indyref or indeed anything else.

      The polling on trust is crystal clear and Cameron, little Ed, calamity Clegg and indeed Murphy are laughably bad and way, way behind Nicola and Alex.

      As for the debates, we all know they are going to appear massively unfair to the scottish public but I don't think it's quite sunk in yet for the westminster bubble twits just how counterproductive and damning they are going to be for the unionist media and unionist parties.

      The colossal 85,000 + SNP membership and indeed the other Yes parties have no intention of just meekly accepting the absurd bullshit being used to justify these manifestly unfair debates. You had better believe we will do everything in our power to highlight and disrupt them should they continue as they are.

  3. What would have been undemocratic, the day after a majority of Scottish people had voted by clear majority to remain in the UK, would be for Cameron to suggest that independence was, or should, still be on the table.

    I'm confused by this sort of line. This is like saying that after a general election result, another general election is off the table.

    It's not up to politicians if we are to have another iref, but the electorate.

    AS was correct in talking about it being possibly generational; after all, 1979, 1997, and 2014 are roughly a generation apart each. However, I don't recall him saying another iref must or would be a generation away.

    In any event, the new leader of the SNP, NS, will not be bound by anything the old one said. So even if AS had given his personal promise, it wouldn't matter a jot.

  4. Thanks for that James, I did the Westminster seats on SH, unattributed though as they can be a bit funny about that sometimes.

  5. Hi yesindyref2 - Can you enlighten me what your post means? Sounds intriguing

    S_S - Further on in the Herald article they say that was a confusion and it was a BT worker who had booked the venue, and the venue mistakenly thought it was BT. However, that doesn't detract from your basic point that Labour are vanishing down the same hole the Tories vanished down. In a way it would be excellent if they established an electoral alliance for 2015 (but they obviously can't because its a UK election) but we should, and - I'm pretty sure - will, establish a Yes Alliance of parties, groupings and prominent tireless individuals who worked so hard and so well in the run up to September. Now that was the real 'better together', and still is.

    1. Sunday Herald - "Why the Yes movement still has a role to play". I'm post-moderated (get posts up straight away) so I'm a bit careful how I post, but was given a golden opportunity to post James's breakdown of the Westminster seats by party.

  6. Wee Jock Poo-Pong McPlopNovember 2, 2014 at 11:20 AM

    The new Chair of the BBC Trust, Rona Fairhead, has just started in the post. She will be aware of the need for impartiality and balance in the BBC's coverage of the Election - especially after the Referendum. So continued courteous but firm pressure on the Trust about fairness in the Debates would be wise.
    Remember though - it's not just the BBC, it's Sky and C4 as well. We need to make representations to all ofthem, as they are all Westminster Bubble and all in love with the Farage story - basically they think the Scottish question is old news, over and done with.

  7. SS - I am afraid Salmond was very clear that he believed it was a once in a generation, perhaps once in a lifetime opportunity. He didn't define "generation" but you are correct he referred to the historical dates and FWIW in this context I think c. 15-20 years is probably what he had in mind. Of course nothing he, or Cameron, or any other politician says today binds future parliaments or electorates.

    I am afraid your analogy to general elections doesn't work, because general elections are held on a regular timetable, with reasonable frequency. Constitutional referenda (if they are even reheld) are typical held very far apart; the nature of constitutional questions does not lend them to regular testing, because one answer is nearly always irreversible and it would be wrong to bind future generations on what could amount to an electoral whim. All parties recognised that before the referendum; mystifyingly James seems to believe Cameron is acting like an undemocratic imperialist hostage taker for continuing to hold that belief now.

    Incidentally, Salmond appeared on Marr earlier and while he ducked the specific question on timing, he appeared to acknowledge that while independence remains the goal it is now some way distant and there are likely to be several stops in the road. He also came out strongly in favour of referenda as being the best way to settle the matter, apparently opposing UDI. The rotten undemocratic imperialist hostage-taker that he is....

    1. "Constitutional referenda (if they are even reheld) are typical held very far apart; the nature of constitutional questions does not lend them to regular testing, because one answer is nearly always irreversible and it would be wrong to bind future generations on what could amount to an electoral whim"

      Seven years is the minimum period required under our "unwritten" constitution for a referendum on constitutional change. Our referendum followed the constitution to the letter. Westminster can not withhold permission after a seven year period, they would loose a judicial review if they tried. Could Westminster change or amend this part of the constitution? Well, no. It's tied up with the Good Friday agreement, and would require ROI consent.

      Regards, Shagpile.

    2. "he appeared to acknowledge that while independence remains the goal it is now some way distant and there are likely to be several stops in the road"

      Oh well, if he "appeared" to you to be doing something, say no more. Case closed. Flockers, the day I take your "interpretations" as my guide to the internal thinking of the SNP is the day I give up entirely. Luckily, it's less than 24 hours since you entertained us with your barking mad claim that by putting the Tories in office next May, the SNP would be giving Scotland "exactly the government it wants".

    3. "James seems to believe Cameron is acting like an undemocratic imperialist hostage taker for continuing to hold that belief now."

      He can hold any belief that his blessed little heart desires, as long as he unambiguously transfers the power to hold constitutional referenda at any time to the Scottish Parliament, thus leaving the decision on timing in the hands of the Scottish people, and not in the hands of the Old Etonian occupant of 10 Downing Street. That's the difference between an imperialist and a democrat. Agreed?

  8. There's a perfectly logical and reasonable reason for excluding the SNP from the UK leaders debates, which is that they are not standing for seats in the majority of the UK. That they might hold the balance of power or their percentage in Scotland is irrelevant. These are the UK-wide debates and the SNP will only be standing in, at most, 9% of the seats. If you are going to allow in Parties that are not standing in a substantial majority of UK seats, but might still win some, you will also need to include Plaid, the DUP, Sinn Fein and for all I know the Canvey Island Independents.

    Incidentally it's also rather odd to specifically demand that Sturgeon take part as presumably she won't even be standing for Westminster. After all if the SNP do hold the balance of power, their MPs are going to have to spend their time in London trooping through lobbies and I would imagine the FM has more important things to do with her time. It's not without precedent, Ieuan Wyn Jones spoke for Plaid in the Welsh debates (though he is an-MP), but someone in UK debates who wasn't standing would be constantly reminded of this by the other participants.

    The reason why the demand to take part in the UK leaders' debates is misconceived is that it misses out on the real problem. In 2010 the UK-wide Parties effectively got twice the exposure that the SNP and PC did, through the UK leaders debates and the national ones The only way I can see round this is for the UK and the Scottish, Welsh and NI debates to be broadcast simultaneously (the UK ones then effectively becoming the English ones). Who would represent the UK-wide Parties in the others would be up to those Parties, but I suppose it would be possible to pre-record if they wanted their UK leaders to be in those as well. It might cause some technical problems for Sky, but if they want to mix with the big boys they have to put in the resources.

    Roger Mexico

    1. "There's a perfectly logical and reasonable reason for excluding the SNP from the UK leaders debates, which is that they are not standing for seats in the majority of the UK."

      Nope. Try again.

      Let's be clear about this - there is no such thing as a 'national party' in the UK, so that type of excuse for excluding parties who you think your London audiences will find boring doesn't work. The UK has four constituent nations, and there is no party - not one - that has MPs in all four. Three parties have representation in three of the four nations, the SNP and Plaid between them (who form a single parliamentary group in Westminster) have representation in two of the four nations, while UKIP have representation in just one nation - as do the Greens. How exactly do we get from that state of affairs to the inclusion of UKIP and the exclusion of the SNP, Plaid and the Greens?

      Nor does an excuse about "at least standing candidates throughout the country" work, because Labour and the Liberal Democrats do not stand candidates in Northern Ireland. And nor does an excuse about "standing enough candidates for your leader to become PM" work, because in a parliamentary system a party participating in a complex coalition can supply the Prime Minister even with a tiny minority of seats - there are numerous examples of that happening throughout the world. And that's before we even get to the inconvenient fact that the SNP are now the third biggest party in the UK, with far more members than either the Liberal Democrats or UKIP.

      Westminster bubble thinking, though admittedly amusing, is of course laughably out of touch with the real world. As is the hilarious notion that the tories and Labour are the "big boys" when they are in a race to the bottom to see just how unpopular the two out of touch twits Cameron and little Ed can become with the entire UK public.

      I certainly wouldn't be boasting about resources when Labour and the tories are tellingly secretive about their membership numbers and the Red Tories are facing another meltdown with their union funding.

      Labour loses its first million of union funding – how much more will it lose?

    2. Thanks, Mick. To deal with Roger's other points - the thing about Sturgeon not standing for Westminster is a red herring, and we've been over this a million times before. If the broadcasters decide to stipulate that each party's representative in the debates has to be a candidate in the general election, them I'm sure Alex Salmond will do splendidly for the SNP.

      If the broadcasters want to make the overall number of candidates their last line of defence, they at least have to specify in advance the number of candidates that the SNP are required to stand, and guarantee that the party will be included in the debates if that condition is met. What they can't do is carry on with this perpetual process of saying "well, whatever the SNP do, we'll dream up yet another criteria after the fact to justify excluding them". We know that the requirement can't be to stand in every constituency, because Labour and the Liberal Democrats don't stand in Northern Ireland.

      But even without standing outside Scotland/Wales, the SNP and Plaid are on 5% across GB in today's YouGov poll, and the Lib Dems are on 7%. Is this really the yawning chasm that justifies the Lib Dems' inclusion and the SNP's total exclusion? It's a ridiculous argument.

    3. I carefully said "the majority" of the UK not all of it, though of course the three big Westminster Parties do have related Parties in Northern Ireland who often act as proxies for them there. The 'big three' and UKIP will be standing in 90%+ of UK constituencies, the SNP in 9% - they simply have no place in a UK-wide debate. And if you think there is, then you certainly have to argue for the inclusion of the DUP, SF, UUP, SDLP and Alliance as well.

      James's second point that you quoted, which I think is that in a coalition the PM can end up being anyone from any of the Parties, simply isn't how things work in the UK parliamentary system. If you're appealing to other countries for evidence, you might as well point out that in such places unelected technocrats can end up as PM, so we should include some of them as well.

      What I find strange about these demands for SNP inclusion is not just that they are totally unrealistic, but that they let the broadcasters off the hook with regard to my other point about the balance of coverage between the Parties in Scotland.

      Incidentally, my comment about 'resources' referred to Sky not necessarily having enough of them to mount four debates simultaneously, what did you think I meant?

      Roger Mexico

    4. You'd better get used to these "unrealistic demands", because we are absolutely dead serious about this. If basic fairness is unrealistic, you can be sure we're going to demand it vociferously.

      You're drowning on the "UK-wide" point. You can't simultaneously exclude the SNP on the basis that the debates are "UK-wide", and then say it's perfectly OK for Labour and the Liberal Democrats to be included without standing on a UK-wide basis. Just won't wash, I'm afraid.

      "which I think is that in a coalition the PM can end up being anyone from any of the Parties, simply isn't how things work in the UK parliamentary system"

      Oh, really? In which case you'll have to explain how the leader of the party that won 13 seats out 615 in the 1931 general election became Prime Minister.

    5. That was my reply to Mick Pork by the way, rather than James. My point about Sturgeon was that simply that it would look additionally odd to the viewers. If Salmond does stand for Westminster (presumably for Gordon), which some of us suspected even on the day he announced his resignation, he's also the obvious person to do the debates in Scotland.

      As for the broadcasters applying a number of candidates rule, if they do it would certainly be as a necessary rather than sufficient condition and other evidence of widespread support would have to be supplied to prevent a Party or individual simply buying their way into the debates. It's possible that they might do so to exclude the Greens, but given that 90%+ of the viewers will certainly not have the chance to vote for the SNP, their inclusion would be pointless.

      Again the mystery here is why people are fighting the wrong battle - what is important to the SNP are the debates in Scotland. Wanting to be part of the UK-wide one comes across as a bit pathetic, as if you're claiming to be one of the Big Boys, when the whole point is that you're not even part of the same gang.

      Roger Mexico

    6. "Wanting to be part of the UK-wide one comes across as a bit pathetic, as if you're claiming to be one of the Big Boys, when the whole point is that you're not even part of the same gang."

      Roger, what planet are you living on? Have you actually looked at the projected result of the general election given in the blogpost? Apart from the more important point of fairness, don't you think the broadcasters are going to look a bit bloody stupid if the SNP end up with far more seats than either UKIP or the Lib Dems, AND are the kingmakers in coalition negotiations, after being treated as if they didn't even exist in the debates?

      As for your suggestion of a simultaneous debate (ie. the Scottish one replacing the English one rather than being additional to it), that would be fine. It's also not going to happen. You know that, I know that, the dogs on the street know that. So let's get real and have fair debates that include the leader of the UK's third-largest party - which, for the uninitiated, is the Scottish National Party.

    7. I thought you meant "big boys" in a desperately partonising way to downgrade the importance of the SNP who are UK's third largest political party roger. You've since confirmed that is indeed your westminster bubble thinking. Which is precisely why I pointed out the reality to you that the tories and the labour party are plummeting in popularity and the basic resources by which we measure a parties strength. Both human and financial.

      Certainly I used resources in reference to the westminster parties rather than Sky because I must admit I have no idea why you think Sky wouldn't have the finances or ability to mount a couple of debates. The debates were laughably cheap in terms of 'bang for your buck' compared to the mass viewership they inevitably attracted. Where things get tricky/untenable for Sky the BBC and C4 is quite obviously the politics of them. Unlike the overwhelmingly unionist press the broadcasters do actually have to give the appearance of not being biased. Granted, some of them failed spectacularly during the Indyref to do so. However, Ofcom and the likes of the BBC trust will be under a laser like spotlight in scotland yet again with the full knowledge that a truly massive chunk of voters under an unprecedented turnout are viewing them with ever greater distrust with every day that passes. The London broadcasters can try to ignore this of course but it's not just westminster bubble politicians who were already suffering from a huge lack of trust even before the Indyref. It was the broadcasters too. They will most assuredly reap the reward if they try a stunt like this.

      I can think of few things more certain to sway yet more scottish voters to the SNP and other Yes parties than a massively public and arrogant display of how out of touch the London media are with ordinary scots. Which will be precisely what the SNP's exlcusion from the debate will do. How could it be otherwise? The polls showing 'scottish' Labour's meltdown should serve as a wake up call not to rely on the same discredited westminster bubble thinking which got Labour and the tories into their dire state in the first place.

      Those polls show a truly massive number of Labour voters moving to the SNP and they are somewhat unlikely to be impressed that the response is to keep the party they now support for the GE out of the debates and not have teir views represented. It will only harden their resolve and further confirm that London Labour and the rest couldn't give a flying fuck about scotland properly and fairly being represented. (As if little Ed and London Labour trying force the westminster MP Murphy on SLAB wasn't already confirming that loudly and clearly)

  9. A point the detractors of the SNP appearing on leadership debates miss is that with 38 and probably more seats at Westminster, the SNP hold the balance of power and will have a big influence on policy in the UK parliament, and the 58 million people of the rUK, as well as the 5.4 million of Scotland, have a right to know what their policies might be, and how they might vote with whatever party (probably Labour) they choose to help form a government for the whole UK.

  10. Flockers still spamming away like a good little britnat racist Scotophobe.

    The FM stated that these votes were generational. Had been generational. Not that they HAD TO BE GENERATIONAL!

    Now please piss off back to your union jack lined nest and work on your straight arm salutes for the next OO parade.

  11. Justin, I agree with the sentiment. The constitutional questions aside, I would go further in suggesting those involved in the Yes campaign are representative of the actual progressive movement in Scotland.

    But for all the talk of an alliance, I think we are missing a trick if we are basing it on Scotland. This is wrong. It should be a UK wide alliance involving SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Greens in England under the banner of the 'Progressive Alliance'. The benefits would be substantial; a programme for Westminster that would have devo max for Scotland, further devolution for Wales, regional assemblies in England on a par with London, abolition of House of Lords, green energy policy, fairer capital expenditure programme, green energy policy and an end to austerity.

    This would square a number of circles; a true left of centre voice in the election, nationalist parties standing on the basis of a UK wide policy programme; access to the leaders debates (suggesting each leader stands in one of the debates); allows Miliband to pursue his middle England agenda wholeheartedly and unpicks the lock of labour and the SNP ever going into coalition together.

    It would the Greens that would take a hit by not standing in Scotland and Wales but it would be pragmatic saving their campaign funds for a full tilt at the beefed up parliaments in Cardiff and Edinburgh. My feeling is that such a mutual endeavour would be the best reward to those that battled for Yes. Independence then merely a step away.


    1. Hi Stuart,

      Yes I agree with your overall point (although there's no reason the Scottish Greens couldn't also go for a few seats, and the SSP for at least one).

      However, the one downside of that broad an approach would be if it became simply an alliance involving parties.

      The power of what has been happening in Scotland is that it is not just parties.

      Even if individuals are in parties - SNP, SGP, whatever - we have clearly been placing people before parties in the Yes movement, and THIS is what we need to capitalise on in the 2015 GE.

      The SNP, SGP and SSP have grown exponentially since Sept 18th, and that is great, but there is no sense that these new members aren't thinking for themselves, quite the opposite.

      Our ability to be independent minded as individuals and as a movement is at the heart of this independence movement and that is what any electoral alliance needs to enable to flourish.

  12. The question remains- if true devomax is delivered,will it be enough to kill independence?

    1. You mean kill it "stone dead" I presume. Somewhat unlikely, to say the least. ;)

      Pretty much the reason why DevoMax won't be delivered and the unionist parties VOW is already in tatters.

      *DevoMAX - All powers apart from foreign affairs and defence.

  13. Nothing is going to be delivered, so of course it won't. Are you George Robertson, who famously declared in 1995 that devolution would kill nationalism "stone dead" when he was shadow Secretary of State for Scotland? Get real.

  14. Anon : I do understand the argument that GENUINE Devo Max might finally get us to the point where people feel they have the fabled "best of both worlds". But there are two good reasons why in reality people would still want to take that final step. Those reasons are - a) Trident on the Clyde, and b) London's reliable habit of getting Scotland embroiled in illegal wars.

  15. Indeed, the light would shine ever greater on the uk foreign policy, mlitary industrial complex and illegal wars.....just now it doesnt

  16. Given that Labour and Conservatives have already enthusiastically combined to thwart Scottish independence, it seems to me, in the face of the election result you have posited here, that a "Grand Coalition" of those two parties might be formed "to save the Union". I believe this would be counter-productive, as the Scottish MPs would be justified in doing as the Irish MPs did after the 1918 election, withdrawing from Westminster. The Irish formed the Dail, our representatives could join their colleagues in Holyrood and set about achieving independence.

  17. We live in in very interesting times.

    We could well have Tories also voting SNP to keep Labour out next year plus the explosive new membership numbers (what is it now, 85,000) or round about there.

    I worry about the polls and if there is a tighting of them. No doubt we'll hear the usual soundbites even if the SNP are still ahead, as we can all see the BBC are actively promoting Murphy as some sort of saint, dear Leader to get them back on the road again in Scotland.

    1. James made sure to caveat the polls with the caution that they most certainly aren't assured to stay that way. But for right now they are undeniable proof of the scale of the London Labour branch offices problems and just how meaningless little Ed plonking in an Eggman will be to cure them.

      This is systemic not personality based. Even if it was just about personalities Nicola and Alex are more than a match for any of the three candidates. There is also no way on earth the London media can hide the amusingly toxic trio of Cameron, Clegg and little Ed during a GE campaign. The scottish public are actually going to notice them and will not be best pleased with what they see.

      The London Labour branch office also has to go virtually straight into 2016 scottish election mode after the GE. Granted, the 2015 GE could be far, far closer than these polls but the 2016 scottish election is absolutely make or break for what is left of 'scottish' Labour. If they keep it up they could well be heading perilously close to the fate of the lib dems who have a taxi full of MSPs and are basically an irrelevance to scottish politics now.

      Even if we just massively reduce the huge majorities of some of the safest 'scottish' Labour MPs and only get a handful more seats in 2015 we are building up an infrastructure and membership that will be one of the most formidable ever seen. We made huge inroads into Glasgow at the local elections victory in 2012 and Glasgow was a city that said Yes. This is about continually building a grass-roots movement and the local knowledge and strength to make every future election one where there are no safe labour seats any more and they can no longer arrogantly take the scottish public for granted.

  18. In other westminster bubble imbecile news, it appears "stuff the Jocks" Smithson thinks being popular with the public, trusted and the UK's third largest political party is "chutzpah".

    We can only wonder how Clegg's ostrich faction would describe calamity Clegg's hilarious 'performance' of late if they truly believe that.


  19. this is sort of reblogged here - and includes the latest poll in the republic of Ireland
    the idea of a pan-nationalist and greens alliance looks very interesting
    Ben Madigan

  20. What do you think of the Rev Stu's assessment of a more likely 36 seats being obtained by the SNP?

  21. Taxi for Darling! :-D


    The meltdown continues apace.

  22. I think this talk of 30+ seats is overblown, partly because the vast majority of the media coverage in 2015 is going to focus on Tory, Labour and possibly UKIP (assuming they win Rochester), but also because of the numbers. The SNP would need to be quite far ahead of Labour to win 30+ seats, assuming that the Labour vote is concentrated (as usual) in the central belt. On uniform swing, the SNP would "only" win 20 seats and Labour 35 if the popular vote was SNP and Labour 34 each, Tory 17 and LD 8. Even with a 36-32 lead on popular vote for the SNP, Labour would still win 1 more seat (28-27).

    Election Forecast, which assumes a regression to the 2010 results in its modelling, has SNP on 24 seats as its central forecast. This would put SNP neck and neck with the Lib Dems to be the third largest group.

  23. Always said we should be happy with and aim for getting 20 seats, we know what some Labour voters are like, they say one thing and go another way, i.e. back to Labour.

    The SNP support will go down, but there are a few seats that the SNP can win off Labour and the Lib Dems where there are low majorities as well as incumbent MP's standing down. I'd like to see Tommy Sheppard standing in Glasgow, might be interesting.

    It's probably better for all concerned if we ignore the polls see where it takes us. If we get more than 11 MP's then it's broken a record. That's the magnitude of the task ahead.

    Yes are things are different, but as James and others have said, our support will go down in the run up to it. I'm also wondering what the turnout will be like in the rest of the UK. Scotland, it should be at least 60%, which is fine, but with approval ratings so low for all the main leaders, I am wondering if the turnout will be low for the 3 traditional parties? Nothing really worth voting for, whereas the UKIP voters might have a higher turnout?

    Probably a question for the older lot, but do the leaders approval ratings etc help or hinder turnout? Do they make a difference?

  24. One thing to remember is that the SNP have been ahead in Westminster polls since 2011. Granted the lead has varied, but, for example, here is Survations averages for Jan-July 2014:

    38.1% SNP
    34.1% Lab
    16.1% Con
    5.3% Lib
    3.8% UKIP
    1.5% Green

    So, SNP doing well here is not new. SNP surging into an even bigger lead is also not new; this happened after May 2011, before settling back to the kind of figures above.

    Over the course of 2014, Labour were slowly slipping and SNP slowly gaining; a prelude possibly to what happened after the iref.

  25. I'm just remembering Alex, in 2008, standing in front of Spring Conference and predicting 20 seats in 2010. We got 6. I kind of blamed the beginning of the recession in late 2008 but I don't know if that's right.

    We're certainly on course to do a lot better this time but I can't help remembering that we always slip back before a general election. And so many peple are running around behaving as if 54 seats are in the bag, and bad-mouthing anyone who points out that that's delusion on acid.

  26. @ Rolfe who wrote "we always slip back before a general election".
    could that be because of the general media onslaught for the 2 big parties which usually happens in the last couple of weeks before polling day?
    ben madigan

  27. Martin Wood emailed me to say he'd been trying to post the following without success -

    “I suggest a new strategy R2….”

    The recent surge in the polls got me to thinking the last time this happened. “Los tres amigos” were stirred into action and the entire MSM, business community and Westminster went into misinformation overdrive, saturating the media with “Project Fear”
    As a result – we lost.
    The same might happen in GE 2015 – they won’t take a strong SNP/Greens, weak Labour lying down. We face a very large well-coordinated “enemy” and fighting them at their own game seems stupid. Guerrilla warfare is the best way to beat overwhelming strength – laced with a healthy dose of misinformation
    The media and MP’s use the polls to shape public opinion – so why don’t we turn this back on them. 1.6 million of us seem to be well connected on social media. We could spread the word to “misinform” our voting intentions.
    Instead of answering SNP etc. – say Labour, Lib Dem – Tories even.
    This will artificially inflate the labour vote and will probably be widely reported as a Labour recovery as often as the BBC can. This should hopefully calm the furrowed brow and lull them into a sense of security. A few things should fall out of this.
    Eggman may be tempted to stand in a less safe seat – making it easier to bounce him.
    Twopee will feel he can fight the Westminster election without worrying about North Britain and the Labour voters who would vote for a Chimp with a red rosette would be encourage to go back to sleep and they’re turnout drop back to the 30% of 2010 as they may think it’s in the bag.
    For the sheer amusement – if nothing else, the faces of SLAB in May when the actual results come in (hopefully reflecting the current level of distaste for labour) and the decimation of the seats they hold would be a fair shock to the system.
    The strategists in the main parties would be hung out to dry, pollsters would be dragged into various Whitehall offices, John Curtice, who’s face has become a bit too wearing on TV, would struggle to answer how this happened.
    Starved of accurate information – the run up to Holyrood 2016 should be chaotic for SLAB etc – they won’t know what to trust even if they do figure it out.
    For a bit of entertainment February 2015 could be “Tory” month, March “Lib dem”.

  28. Forget everything else. It boils down to this:

    Can the BBC guarantee equal airtime for Scotland's four main parties during the campaign ON SCOTTISH SCREENS? Yes or No?

    If the opposition are in 3x1hr debates where the SNP are excluded, that leaves the SNP with a 180min airtime deficit on Scottish screens. How do broadcasters intend to make up this deficit?

    Remember: on Scottish screens, the Scottish TV debates are in addition to, not instead of, the UK debates. It's a legal requirement to give all 4 main parties equal airtime during the campaign.