Yesterday, the Guardian headlined its UK Election reports with Ed Miliband’s rejection of a coalition with the SNP in the case of a hung parliament. That’s all very good, except for the small detail that the SNP aren’t seeking a coalition deal with Labour. Notably, Ed refused to state that Labour would cast a vote of no confidence in the event that the Tories sought to form a minority government off the back of being the largest party in Westminster post election.
Meanwhile, with UK polls flipping around the low to mid 30% mark for both the Labour and Conservative parties, a Vote Swap initiative has been launched for constituencies in England. The idea is that Green and Labour voters arrange to swap their votes with one another across marginal constituencies in order to boost the total number of Green and Labour wins. I mischievously pointed out to a Green Party friend in the UK that depending on the lie of the land in her constituency, she’d be better to vote Tory if she wants progressive policies pursued after the election. The logic is that the progressive parties (SNP, Green and Plaid Cymru) will have much more leverage in Westminster if Labour come out of the election as the second largest party.
Meanwhile, Lord Ashcroft (yes, that Lord Ashcroft), on the basis that latest polling shows the Labour Party in Scotland now on track to lose even their safest seats, is appealing to Conservative voters in Scotland to cast their vote for Labour in order to thwart the SNP.
An indication of the magnitude of the shift in voting intentions since the 2010 UK election is that the Lib Dems had almost twice as many seats in Scotland as did the SNP (11 to 6). Now it looks as though the SNP will have about double the number of seats of the Lib Dems on a UK wide basis, even though only people in Scotland can vote for the SNP.
On UK membership numbers, the SNP is now the third largest party in the UK (over 100 000) and Labour in Scotland are facing the possibility of being obliterated. To my mind, that takes some doing; to go from the party that has a cast iron, inter-generational ‘Labour’s in my blood’ vote to….gone?… in five short years…
Interestingly, the fear card that both the Tories and Labour have played over the SNP having real power in Westminster hasn’t played out very well. Apparently, one of the largest google searches after the first UK Leader’s debate was English voters trying to find out if they could vote SNP. And in the latest debate a London studio audience greeted Ed Miliband’s reticence toward SNP overtures with…cheers for Nicola Sturgeon (1hour 23min and 45 sec)
I confess that I don’t usually follow elections very closely. But the prospect of progressive parties in the UK having the leverage to stop austerity dead in its tracks and, as I see it, signal an end to the legacy of Thatcher and Reagan/Thatcher neo-liberal economic dogma (labelled Rogernomics here) has my interest piqued. There will be ripples coming our way.
And so, on the morning of May 8th, I reckon I might have me lined up a liquid breakfast, watch the results coming in and raise a glass to the palpable fear I expect to see emanating from Cleg, Miliband, Cameron and the British Establishment in general. I’ll also raise a glass to the prospect of the NZ Labour Party taking note and getting its shit together for the 2017 campaign, although, on this second point, I won’t be holding by breath.