Friday, December 17, 2021

North Shropshire: the Scottish impact

I was asked what impact the sensational North Shropshire by-election result might have on Scottish politics.  I think that's quite difficult to tell at the moment because there are too many variables.  We were told that a gain for the Liberal Democrats might trigger Boris Johnson's downfall, but now that it's actually come to pass, the consequences have been predictably downgraded to "he's in the last chance saloon".  The comparison that some people are making is with the Eastbourne by-election of 1990 which set in motion a chain of events that led to Margaret Thatcher's ousting as Prime Minister a few weeks later.  But an equally valid comparison is with the Newbury and Christchurch by-elections of 1993, which the Lib Dems won on massive swings, leaving the Tories in little doubt that John Major couldn't lead them to victory in 1997 - but they did nothing much about that for four years.

The conventional wisdom is that it would be Christmas for the Yes movement if Boris Johnson is still Prime Minister when a referendum or plebiscitary election is held - but the one possible caveat would be if Johnson becomes damaged to the point where it's obvious that Labour are likely to win the next general election, which would make it harder for us to portray the choice as being between independence and Tory rule.  There might yet be a strategic advantage in Johnson being replaced with another leader like Michael Gove or Priti Patel who would still be deeply unpopular in Scotland, but who might look like having a more plausible chance of winning the 2024 election.

*  *  *

You can catch up with my Scot Goes Popcast interview with iScot editor Ken McDonald HERE (on video) or HERE (audio only).


  1. So if BJ is really in the last chance saloon he could motivate his natural supporters by giving nicola murrell a Section 30 order then revealing the names of the alphabetties partway through the campaign.
    Thus destroying independence and the SNP.
    Win win for them.

  2. So that's another year just about gone and no progress towards independence by Sturgeon.

    What was it that some posters on here used to say - that's right - legislation straight after the May election for a referendum later in 2021.

    But hey WGD and his numpties tell us there will be a referendum - believe in Nicola they say. She still hasn't even bothered asking Johnson for a sec 30 - she must be laughing at how easy it is to string along the numpties.