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The UK Parliamentary Elections, 2015

by on 2015/05/08

I just did an interview with my friend Yohan Shanmugaratnam at Klassekampen (‘Class War’ – the Norwegian seriously left daily newspaper) about the UK election – Yohan was in  Scotland as well as London during the election campaigning, and was the only Norwegian journalist to ‘get it right’.

My story is that SNP did very well in Scotland, and sent a clear message to the main parties in the South that they don’t like their policies. They also had an excellent, tough and able leader in Nicola Sturgeon. I said that this turning away from Tories (and now by association, Lib Dems) and Labour had been a clear trend since Mrs Thatcher, and continued under Blair and Brown.

Cameron put about a message of fear (of SNP, Scots in general, etc) before the election, and picked up votes because of it. He also reneged on promises made during the referendum campaign, and turned them into an attack on the Scottish budget and a reduction of Scots MPs voting rights in the UK parliament, which I believed to be unconstitutional (it is not an English parliament!). Labour was decimated in Scotland because people don’t like their shift to the right from Blair onwards, their leader in Scotland, or their behaviour during the referendum campaign. I said I thought Labour in Scotland would seriously think about separating from the UK party, and deciding on their own leadership and policies, and if they did this they would probably get more seats again. This would be a good thing, and lead to more balanced politics and a better chance of getting rid of the Tories in the UK parliament. I said that although it looked as though Cameron would be able to cobble together a majority, probably with the help of the DUP in Ireland, he would be under constant pressure because of his lack of overall – and narrow – majority, etc. and have to wheel in the sick MPs etc for votes.  The SNP and no doubt some others like SF and possibly a renewed LIBdem party, as well as Labour under new leadership, would opposed some of their policies eg on Trident and NHS privatisation, as well as on austerity. SNP will also be wanting a fairer devolution deal. I said I did not think that the results gave the SNP a mandate for another referendum at this stage – much would depend on the devolution settlement, around which the SNP has huge scope for political action and voice, as well as able MPs in Westminster. But after all they still only had 50% of the votes in Scotland, and so another referendum would be risky at this stage. On this occasion the SNP benefitted from the ‘first-past-the-post’ system, awful as it is, but this would not be the case in a referendum.

I just cannot understand why English voters would put Cameron back in! Labour really cannot blame the Scots – Labour lost key seats in England too, and failed to gain those they needed and wanted. However, its a blessing that UKIP failed, and that Farage himself lost. Horrible lot!


From → Rural policy

One Comment
  1. I have analysed the votes and seats by party in what we can call ‘the Celtic Tiger’, namely Scotland, N. Ireland, and Wales, and compared this to the result in England, and think we can say a few important things from the comparison about UK politics today.
    When you look carefully at the charts, which I will try to post below, you see that
    1. The old ‘main’ parties, Con and Lab got about 41% of the votes and a similar proportion of seats in the Celtic Tiger, but about 725 of the votes and 98% of the seats in England.
    2. The conservatives got 40% of votes, but 60% of seats in England, while they got about 17% of votes and only 10% of seats in the Celtic Tiger. They are clearly an ‘English’ party, but even there they do not majority support from the people voting.
    3. The SNP is the largest party by votes and seats in the Celtic Tiger, with 28% of votes and 47% of seats (therefore for one benefiting from the ‘first past the post system’). Particularly important is the fact that although the SNP got 95% of the seats in Scotland, they achieved this with only 50% of the votes. This is why they cannot at this time move swiftly to another referendum on independence and must seek the ‘best’ devolution settlement possible. (of course only voters in Scotland could actually vote for the SNP).
    4. In general, the smaller parties like the Greens and UKIP lost out in terms of seats. UKIP, fpr example, for nearly 13% of the vote in the UK, but only 1 seat.
    5. The political complexion of the three ‘Celtic’ nations which form the four nations of the UK is now radically different from that of England, and so there is scope for a stronger ‘celtic alliance’ in fighting unwanted tory policies such as austerity, privatisation of the national health service and renewal of Trident, cutting taxes for the rich. This alliance could be strengthened, and more successful, if the probable transitions in the Labour party involve a decisive break with Tory policies (eg on austerity, Trident and health service privatisation). All Celtic Tiger seats plus Labour seats in England amount to 326 seats (and maybe one can even add a new LIB Dem approach and on some issues Greens and others), compared with 319 conservative seats in England.
    6. Nicola Sturgeons approach is absolutely right – the opposition must work together to defeat regressive Tory policies, we must soft pedal the independence issue and focus on devo-max. I think we must also work closer with our Celtic neighbours.

    JMB, 10 May

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