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Written By: - Date published: 11:26 am, May 1st, 2015 - 41 comments
Categories: International, uk politics - Tags: , ,

Some commentary has suggested a clean sweep for the SNP in Scotland in the UK General election. That would entail the party winning 59 seats next week, up from 6 seats in 2010. So, is the Labour Party in Scotland about to be euthanased?

Well, the constituency of Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill has returned a Labour mp to Westminster since 1932. In 2005 the it received 64.5% of the constituency’s vote on a 59.4% turnout. In 2010 it received 66.6% of the constituency’s vote on a 59.4% turnout. As constituencies go then… safe as houses.

And yet a January poll by Lord Ashcroft put Labour 3% behind the SNP in the constituency while, importantly, a poll by Populus has found that 75 per cent of Scots polled are “absolutely certain” they will vote in the general election, compared with an average of 53.75 per cent across the rest of the UK.

For a sense of what it feels like ‘on the ground’ you might do worse than view this latest short video essay from the constituency that John Harris has compiled for The Guardian.


41 comments on “Swings”

  1. Sable 1

    Is there a reason why this is relevant? Personally I say good luck to the SNP and good riddance to so called Labour.

    • Bill 1.1

      The relevancy?

      Hmm, let me see. NZ Labour more or less mimics UK Labour in terms of policy etc. And NZ Labour’s popularity more or less echos UK Labour’s popularity (low 30%, give or take).

      And NZ Labour scratches it’s institutional head and can’t figure why it’s mired?!

      Meanwhile, at least in Scotland, along comes a party that grafts itself onto Labour’s abandoned roots and…

      You seeing the relevancy yet?

      • Tracey 1.1.1


        Who, in trms of policy would SNP equate most closely to here?

        • DoublePlusGood

          No-one. The point is that Scotland has a constituency that has been abandoned by Labour policies and has sought out a party that represents Labour’s roots – and that no party has yet done that here. As a result, there is an opportunity for a political party in New Zealand to represent a similarly abandoned constituency here.

        • Bill

          I guess you’d have to indulge in a bit of time travel on that one 😉 As I say above, the SNP has grafted itself onto the roots that UK Labour abandoned…and is, not surprisingly, reaping immense ballot box rewards. The NZ Labour Party has also abandoned those roots. The difference here is that no-one has ‘taken up the cudgel (sorry to mix metaphors).

          Maybe Mana were coming the closest. But then, as UK Labour has attempted to do to the SNP and the Greens in the UK, the Labour Party here snuffed them out.

          Could something come from Maoridom if NZ Labour refuses to (a-hem) cut the crap? I dunno.

          edit – Damn. I was reading your comment somewhat back to front. The SNP come closest to pre-neoliberal Labour here. Essentially the same as their positioning in the UK on that front.

          • Phil

            the SNP has grafted itself onto the roots that UK Labour abandoned…and is, not surprisingly, reaping immense ballot box rewards.

            Correlation does not equal causation. The SNP has not fundamentally shifted their policy positions from the previous election.

            The SNP’s polling vaulted up immediately after the independence referendum. It’s a much more compelling narrative that 45-ish percent of Scottish voter,s who are pro-independence, see SNP-representation as the best alternative available to them at this election.

            • Bill

              I guess I see it in terms of the referendum getting people politically engaged. And once people are engaged and thinking things through instead of just meekly accepting that ‘this is the way things are’…

            • McFlock

              The SNP has not fundamentally shifted their policy positions from the previous election.

              But party support is not only about policy. Building respect, trustworthiness, reputation for delivering, and other factors all count too.

        • Murray Rawshark

          My worry is that NZ First is starting to fill the void left by the tendencies of Labour governments here since 1984. Labour can be seen as adopting the same anti-sovereignty policies as NAct, with their support for the free market and foreign “investment”, plus their USA friendly spy policies. I’m not sure there is enough class consciousness for enough people to realise that Working For Families and Accomodation Allowances are actually to help employers and landlords, doing nothing for workers. Therefore they will tend to look to the nationalism of Winnie rather than a more class based party.

          Mana was beginning to fill the gap, but for various reasons hasn’t yet. The Greens also have a lot of potential, but can’t quite shake off the idea that they should be a bit bluish. I can’t see anything very promising on the horizon and I don’t even know how promising the SNP is. If it aligns behind Scots money, it’s not.

          • Sable

            Yes guys Labour are, as I have said repeatedly, right wing sell outs. They have been since the appalling Lange government. The SNP have stepped in and created a truly socialist party that represents peoples needs and wants. To say they are grafted from Labours rotten roots is something of an insult. They are unique in their own way.

  2. mickysavage 2

    Sorry Bill I had a go at making the video link work and seemed to make it worse. If you can find a youtube version this will link cleanly.

  3. dukeofurl 3

    Gee, a clean sweep ?

    Thats after the same polls were saying independence vote would be ‘close’- it was a 10% difference.

    A range of polls give SNP from 47 seats. The maximum? I dont think so. There is active talk in Scotland of tactical voting on the tory side ( for the LIb Dems).

    Then Bill is known for his posts having poll beatups. But no mention this time of CNDs little survey.

    A clean sweep for SNP pushes up the chance that Cameron and the Tories will cling to power after the election.

    It mirrors what happened in 1919 in Scotland

    “George Square, Glasgow, is humming to the frenzy of thousands of protestors and campaigners, waving strange standards that are not the Union Flag. An unpopular coalition government is in power, with Conservatives and Liberals publicly turning on each other, uncertain how to contain a surging fringe movement and prevent wider civic discord.
    The year is 1919, not 2015, and Glasgow is under general strike. The strange flags flying are not the Saltire – there would be nothing strange about that in the streets of Glasgow – but the Red Flag, heralding the nascence of ‘Red Clydeside’.

    Electorally, the strike capped a permanent change in Scottish politics. 29 Labour MPs swept into the House of Commons at the next election, whilst the Liberals foundered, splitting into two parties. The ‘Labourisation’ of Scottish politics was to hold for several generations.

    • Ovid 3.1

      Labour looks set to sweep London. I think things are firming up to a Labour-SNP coalition. Ed Miliband said Labour would put up a Queen’s speech, effectively saying take-it-or-leave-it to the SNP to vote in support of it. But if Labour ends up forcing fresh elections when there’s a clear coalition option open to them, they will suffer. And they’re sure to know this. I don’t think they’re that foolhardy.

      • Tracey 3.1.1

        Rather than offering to have discussions with them? Or a queen’s speech offered after they have consulted?

      • Bill 3.1.2

        There will be no coalition or confidence and supply arrangement. Neither the SNP nor Labour want either.

        The SNP have already said they would vote down a Tory Queens Speech and support a Labour one. Labour could be really fucking stupid and put Trident renewal or some such in their Queens Speech.

        Or, they could present a neutral Queens Speech and get on with being the UK government. The Fixed Term Parliaments Act means they don’t even fall should they fail to pass their budgets. Of course, they’d have to jiggle any failed budget and submit it again to secure 50%+ support…

        • Ovid

          They may even need the support of Plaid Cymru too, which would be interesting.

          • Bill

            And the Greens if Labour back off from trying to bury Caroline Lucas in Brighton.

  4. Tracey 4

    SNP on Affordable Housing

    Our record:

    Invested a record £675 million invested in affordable housing in 2009-10, and 8,663 affordable homes approved, a record number.
    Allocated £80 million to 23 local authorities to support the construction of 3,300 new council homes.
    Seen over 1,300 council houses started in the past three years, more than twice the number in the previous eleven years combined.
    Scrapped the right-to-buy for new council houses therefore encouraging building of new affordable homes and safeguarding homes for the future.”

  5. Tracey 5

    SNP on Economy

    “Scotland’s Economy

    Creating more jobs here in Scotland is a top priority for the SNP. Our policies include:

    Supporting Scotland’s Small Businesses – We will protect the Small Business Bonus, ensuring £450 million of support for the small businesses that form the lifeblood of local economies. The small business bonus has saved jobs in the downturn and create jobs in the recovery.

    Action on Youth Unemployment – We will provide support for 125,000 modern apprenticeships over the lifetime of the Parliament and a commitment that every 16-19 year old in Scotland not in work, part of a Modern Apprenticeship scheme or receiving education is offered a learning or training opportunity.

    Growing the Green Economy – Scotland is leading the world in offshore renewable technologies and the SNP will continue to support the rapid growth of this sector. The National Renewables Infrastructure Fund will help leverage private investment into Renewables, part of over £200 million of investment in Renewables.

    Improve Connectivity – we will invest in the electrification of the central Scotland rail network, reducing journey times between Glasgow and Edinburgh to just over 30 minutes. And our plans include the rapid expansion of high-speed broadband so Scots can take full advantage of our new digital age.

    Protecting family budgets – At a time of inflation, higher VAT and sky-high fuel prices we will continue to protect family budgets here in Scotland by freezing the Council Tax. We have also removed prescription charges, saving people with long-term health conditions £180.”

    • Bill 5.1

      Might pay to differentiate what the SNP government in Holyrood has done from what they want to achieve in Westminster. 😉

      The numbers change and some policies are possible in a Westminster context that aren’t possible in a Holyrood context due to the Scottish government having no borrowing powers, no tax take etc.

      • Tracey 5.1.1

        Thanks for the heads up…

        They seem to have a decent mix of Green policies

      • dukeofurl 5.1.2

        Gee Bill, you should really keep up

        “A new Scotland Bill, published by the Government, extends Holyrood’s powers to allow MSPs to set their own rates of income tax and stamp duty and borrow up to £2.7 billion. That was in 2012

        • Bill

          Uh-huh. And maybe you should stop with the uncritical echoing of the Daily Telegraph type nonsense? Any monies borrowed would then be deducted from the block grant (The Barnett Formula)…same with any tax rate changes. In other words, there’s no net gain in terms of either monies nor power…and the Barnett Formula gets trashed out to boot.

          I believe it’s correct to say that borrowing powers haven’t been used and that what I’ve sketched out is the reason why.

  6. dukeofurl 6

    It looks like its not all rosy in Scotland under the SNP

    “Fewer Scottish school children are good at reading and writing than in 2012, a report into literacy has shown.

    Results from the 2014 Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy, which focused on literacy and was published today, show performance in reading dropped in primary schools between 2012 and 2014 – as well as in the second year of secondary school. Some levels also showed a drop in standards of writing.


    I suppose those in Westminister are to blame ? Or should it be those in Edinburgh

    Luckily Scottish Universities have traditionally offered a 4 year undergraduate degree, so the students can ‘catch up’. LOL

    • Tracey 6.1

      what is the percentage drop between 2102 and 2014?

    • Bill 6.2

      And it rains a lot. Bloody tricksy SNP with their bright yellow colours promising 24/7 sunshine!

      • dukeofurl 6.2.1

        I get the impression you dont really know a lot about Scotland that is relevant.

        The SNP is some sort of talisman of a socialist government for you.

        Im familiar with people like this whos parents were great believers in Mao, and grandparents fervent supporters of Stalin.
        A lot of hope and very little reality.

        The best you hope for now is SNP.

        Sure they can play cat and mouse with labour if the tories dont cling to power.
        However SNP has its own election in Scotland next year and if it stuffs up things in Westminister the voters could sweep them out on its home turf in Edinburgh

        Seperatism is a bit fake cause here. If its the only real policy you have then it has limited appeal and will die out.

        • Bill

          Bwah – ha – ha!

          I mean, you do know that my political leanings are way to the outside of representative governing structures, yes? And you also know that I have nothing but short thrift for the authoritarian left, yes? On reflection, your knowledge of my political leanings are probably on a par with your knowledge of anything else sitting right under your nose. Nose nuffin.

          Moving on. All the SNP has to do at Westminster is play a straight game. Not difficult and they have given every indication this is what they intend to do.

          Separatism has got absolutely nothing to do with the Westminster elections. I believe I’ve heard Sturgeon explaining the ‘triple lock’ on any further referendum three or four times now.

          As for the SNP being a one trick pony, you might want to read their manifestos in relation to Holyrood where they are the government and Westminster where they will be a sizable minor party promoting anti-austerity policies. But – just a suggestion – print them off so you can hold them out above and in front of you rather than having them positioned in any proximity to the underside of your nose, or you probably won’t understand any of it.

          • Grant

            *short shrift*

            • Bill

              oops 🙂

              • Grant

                Short shrift is a good phrase to use in this instance. It’s meaning comes from the notion of giving a condemned man the minimum time possible to be shriven by a priest before execution.

  7. lurgee 7

    As a Scot, I’m still struggling to get my head around this. It seems impossible that the polls are right. But, unless every polling company working in Scotland is getting it spectacularly wrong, it looks like the SNP are going to have a very very good day next week. Ironicaly, even if their support does recede slightly (and Labour have been hoping that is going to happen for what feels like forever now), the horrors of First Past the Post should still see them trounce the other parties. It’s a democratic farce – the party that regularly polled 25% in elections and only got 10% of seats suddenly getting 80-90% of the seats on 40-50% of the vote.

    It is bizzare.

    Incidentally, Bill, I have to advise I May Have Been Wrong in a recent argument we had over the possible implications of the SNP refusing to support Labour over Trident. You’ll recall I was arguing they could trigger a fresh election (in which the TOries would almost certainly prosper) if they voted down a Labour bill on the Trident weapons system. The backbone of my argument was the understanding that budget bills were de facto confidence motions, and if the government could not pass a spending bill, it was expected to resign. I’ve always thought this was the case in Britain, but digging about I’m unable to find verification. Even a Parliamentary research paper from the 90s (!) seems to be a bit uncertain about it:

    A confidence motion is a device which directly tests that confidence. If the result demonstrates that the Government has indeed lost the confidence of the House, and cannot therefore continue to govern effectively, it must resign or seek a dissolution of Parliament (on which choice, see the following section). No other parliamentary event requires such an outcome, and suggestions that various obviously important occasions such as, say, the Queen’s Speech or the second reading of the Finance Bill, are tantamount to confidence motions must, in modern
    circumstances, remain speculative.

    So even the people you’d expect to know seem unsure about the conventions. The Fixed Term Parliaments Act does seem to imply, however, that there needs to be an explicit No Confidence vote, using specific wording, to trigger the 14 day dissolution clause.

    So the SNP could (if this thinking is right) nix Trident and then (rather disingenuously) immediately support Labour on a separate confidence vote, creating the intriguing possibility of a government being in office but effectively unable to allocate money.

  8. Bill 8

    Also a Scot, but unlike yourself finding the shift very easy to comprehend.

    The confidence vote thing becomes almost moot with the Fixed Parliaments Act. As an illustration of how it plays out, I’ve taken your part about Trident and substituted budget.

    So the SNP could (if this thinking is right) nix the budget and then (rather disingenuously) immediately support Labour on a separate confidence vote, creating the intriguing possibility of a government being in office but effectively unable to allocate money.

    So Labour fails to get the 50%+ to pass its budget due to (say) austerity measures within it. They have a choice. Appeal to the Tories and Libdems who both favour austerity, on the likely understanding that both those parties would want something inserted into the budget in return for their support. The dreaded ‘kiss of death’ Labour possibly receives for forming an, albeit temporary, ‘Grand Alliance’ comes into play. Or they could take out the austerity measures and get the 50%+ they need from SNP, Plaid Cymru and Green support.

    With Trident, they put it up and rely on Tory support. Trident goes through…unless it was written into the budget that the Greens, SNP and Plaid Cymru would vote against on principle and then they’re back to weighing the options above.

    The only way the Labour government falls, given that it requires 3/4 of members to vote ‘no confidence’, is if their own mps vote a vote of no confidence.

    • lurgee 8.1

      I think your muddling the no confidence rules and the early dissolution clause written into the FTPA.

      The Labour government can fall on a 51% no confidence vote; parliament can only dissolve if 2/3rds vote for an early dissolution, or 14 days pass with confidence in a government being passed by 50% of MPs.

      But it looks like Labour will be able to finess this – they can put up a Queen’s Speech that the SNP can vote for, but it won’t include anything about Trident, as that is subject to a defence review as per the Labour manifesto. So that will get them past the first hurdle. When the defence review comes back, Labour will probably support it, especially if it indicates Labour’s ‘3 boat’ strategy is viable. I can still see how the Tories may choose to play politics with it, arguing that a reduced deterrent is not worth supporting, in the hope of up-ending the government. I can see them being read to fight a second election quite quickly, with a new leader and loudly claiming that the children have made a mess and the adults have to tidy it up.

      Interesting times!

      • Bill 8.1.1

        Way I’m seeing it is that the ‘no confidence’ has to be a discrete vote. And the SNP are not going to vote ‘no confidence’ in a Labour gvernment and follow up with a vote for dissolution. They’ll vote against, and then, hopefully manage to alter some of Labour’s motions though. At least where Labour needs their support and doesn’t feel able to turn to the Tories for support instead.

  9. Disraeli Gladstone 9

    I still think it’s nigh-impossible that the Orkneys will vote for anyone but the Liberals. They still think they’re voting for the ghost of Jo Grimond.

    • Northsider 9.1

      So you would like to lay a wager?

    • swordfish 9.2

      Don’t leave the Shetlands out !

      But, yeah, if the Lib Dems hold on to any seat in Scotland, It’ll be Orkney and Shetland.

      • Grant 9.2.1

        Please guys, it’s Orkney or Shetland not the Orkneys or the Shetlands… 🙂 No Islander uses those terms.

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  • Speech by the Minister of Defence to the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs
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