Tuesday, September 17, 2019

How the unionists' secret weapon may blow up in their faces

As regular readers know, I think one of the very few potential clouds on the horizon for the SNP at the moment is the Swinson Factor.  We know from past history that London parties often fare better in Scotland when they're led by a Scottish MP, and indeed there's already evidence in a new YouGov poll that Jo Swinson may be more popular in Scotland than elsewhere in the UK - or perhaps a more accurate way of putting it is that she's less unpopular here than elsewhere.  Across Britain she's rated favourably by 26% of respondents and unfavourably by 38%, whereas in the Scottish subsample it's a tie of 29% apiece.  Scotland is the only part of Britain where she's not firmly in negative territory.

And yet so far there's no sign of the SNP taking a hit.  That might yet happen if there's some sort of Cleggasm-style bandwagon effect during the election campaign, but on the other hand it might not.  I have a sneaking suspicion that what might insulate the SNP from the Swinson Factor is what is sometimes called "the Ulsterisation of Scottish politics" - a term that, according to a recent article by Stephen Daisley, was coined by his one-time protégé Aidan Kerr.  That's a richly ironic origin, given that few people have done more to entrench the Ulsterisation than Kerr himself during his time as a Scottish Labour propagandist.  In the overall scheme of things, it's not that long ago that people who were sympathetic to Scottish independence saw no contradiction in voting Labour or Liberal Democrat, but those days are well and truly over thanks to the near-sectarian attitude of the likes of Kerr.

The way that Ulster politics works is that unionist voters almost always vote for unionist parties, regardless of whether there's a politician or policy they like on the nationalist side of the divide.  And, of course, vice versa - nationalists don't vote for unionist parties.  By taking such an extreme stance on an independence referendum (ie. that they will block it even if there's a clear mandate for it), the Lib Dems may have disqualified themselves in the minds of Yes voters as thoroughly as the DUP have disqualified themselves in the minds of Irish nationalist voters.  Which means that any extra votes that the Lib Dems take in Scotland thanks to the Swinson Factor may well come disproportionately from other unionist parties - and under a first-past-the-post voting system the main beneficiaries of that would, ironically, be the SNP.  Most seats are either SNP-Labour or SNP-Tory battles, and if the Lib Dems start taking votes away from Labour and the Tories in those seats, it's bound to make it somewhat easier for the SNP to win.


  1. Another political divide in Scotland is between those such as Nicola Sturgeon who make it clear that they will under no circumstances do a deal with the Tories and Swinson who would put a minority Tory party back into power.
    That's the achilles heel that could destroy the Scottish LibDems and cost Swinson her seat.
    From hero to zero in about 3 months I reckon.

  2. I reckon Swinson could get the vote from Scottish Sun readers who support the Nat sis and woman with big tits running the country.

  3. I look forward to Swinson being turfed out by the electors of East Dunbartonshire in an early GE. Even if by some miracle the LibDems gained an overall majority in the HoC, it would still leave the problem of a Scottish MP occupying a high office of State under EVEL. With their untenable hypocrisy over Brexitref2 v. indyref2, and Willie Rennie committing the party (really?) to blocking all possibility of an independence referendum (him and whose army), I can't see that the LibDems have anything to offer us Scots: not just an irrelevance, a bonkers irrelevance.

  4. Benedict Arnold wannabe Aidan Kerr was not only a protege of Daisley but also a researcher "commissioned" by David Torrance for his book on NS. Professional dater for Guardian Souls, Torrance gave his old friend a boost by highlighting his unilluminating Ulsterisation thesis in the Herald on 8th May 2016.
    Torrance writes 'it was the journalist Aidan Kerr who first identified what he called "the Ulsterisation of Scottish politics" in late 2014 or, when corrected for accuracy, "it was the then-blogger Aidan Kerr who first identified etc etc in late 2014 which was purely coincidentally at the same time he was working for me. I really have to complement Aidan for his flexibility in putting his republican and recent SNP background behind him in order to work for one of Scotland's most eminent Tory journalists. Anyone who suggests Aidan Kerr is anything other than who he claims to be will never receive a signed copy of the latest trash I happen to be punting at the time. You Scotch have been warned..."

  5. Perhaps the Lib Dems are banking on another 'Ulsterisation' - that of English politics into Leave and Remain.