Ozzy's Corner

A view from the Libertarian Left. With no spin


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The Shape of General Elections Without Scotland

A Westminster General Election without Scotland is now a possibility. As a self-confessed election junkie, I was intrigued to see the outcome past elections without Scotland.

I decided to test out every post war election, so below I have tabulated every General Election, with and without Scottish constituencies, to see if they would have turned out differently.

Several notes:

  • I have not included the effect of Sinn Fein choosing to not take their seats
  • I have not included the effect of the Speaker being in a role above their respective parties

Sources:

 http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons/lib/research/rp2004/rp04-061.pdf

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/vote_2005/default.stm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/election2010/results/

  • The last election when no significant difference between the with and without data was 1959. This election was when the Conservatives in Scotland polled at 47.2%. They polled 40.7% in 1964 and haven’t been above 38% since
  • The 1964 election only the only post election one where the result would have changed the winning party
  • In the modern era Scotland has been a no go area for the Conservatives. In the elections since 1992 they won just three seats in a Westminster constituency in Scotland. They haven’t won more than 22 seats there in a single election since 1970.

What does this mean?

Firstly, an independent Scotland would be damaging for the Labour Party in Westminster. The key to Labour forming a Government would be winning more seats in England. In  post war England Labour won more seats than the Conservatives in  1945, 1966, October 1974, 1997, 2001 and 2005. It is not impossible by any means.

Secondly, the Conservatives have no electoral reasons for getting in the way of the movement for an independent Scotland. They need a miracle to even partially recover to any level.

A Scottish referendum looks very, very interesting.

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The Case for Localism

The fuse for the Scottish referendum bomb has been well and truly lit.

As Westminster and Holyrood battle over the wording, timing and authority of an SNP proposed referendum, perhaps it is the time for the nation to reflect on the case for localism.

Over decades political power gravitated towards Westminster, and economic power to the South East of England. This accelerated during the Thatcher years rush to neo-liberalism. As the regions became more estranged from the South East, they became centres of a strong anti-conservative movement, principally led by Labour. Wales and Scotland made Conservative MPs rarer than hen’s teeth and the large northern conurbations were run by left wing Councils.

Power drained away to Whitehall as fast as economic power flowed to the Square Mile.

Alongside the growth of globalisation, politically the EEC transformed into an ever greater influence over it’s member states. A club became a single market, and the single market became a monetary union for most countries. The Euro crisis has been taken as evidence that political integration is the next step. The G7, G20 and WTO have become increasing significant.

As a democrat who believes firmly that people have the right to self determination this never rested easily with me, nor others across the political spectrum.

The creation of the Welsh and London Assemblies, and the devolution of Scotland were very welcome to reverse the tide of centralisation. All have been successful, and should be welcomed by any democrat.

The debate about an independent Scotland is interesting, as it follows the Welsh debate about more powers for their assembly, discussion by some of the merits of an English Parliament and the strong view by many that the UK should wrestle more powers back from the EU.

The link is clear – people increasingly want more power over their own lives and politicians to be more accountable to those who vote for them. This is why any attempt by Westminster to curtail the demand for a Scottish referendum will be totally counter-productive. The Scottish genie is out of it’s bottle.

If any Westminster Conservative doesn’t support a genuine referendum, it would be total hypocrisy, as the Scots are using an argument in reality no different than that used by Eurosceptics when wanting to pull out of the EU.

Westminster Labour should accept that what the Scottish people want is up to them alone. It would be loss of a Labour power base, but that has to be accepted gracefully.

So I appeal to all democrats to accept that localism and self-determination are both welcome and good for people. A Scottish referendum will happen, and I hope it is fought over with politeness and good grace, and the expressed democratic view of the people accepted.


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A Scottish Referendum – David and Alex Win, Ed Loses

Today the Government considered transferring the power to hold a formal and binding referendum to Holyrood.

This sets up a very interesting position that has major implications. The creation of an Independent Scotland would involve the division and transfer of resources. What would happen to the oil fields and the tax revenues from them, for example?

An Independent Scotland would need a whole new framework for its defence and currency.

The issues around implementing an Independent Scotland are too complicated for this post, so I will focus the politics.

In many ways, the devolution of Scotland was one of the finest moments of the last Labour Government. The history books will clearly show that it was Labour who first gave Scotland it’s first taste of independence, when no-one will remember about an independent Bank of England or the introduction of tax credits. The real irony is that it is Labour who stands to lose most as the devolution they set free evolves in an ever greater independence.

The SNP has gone from strength to strength since devolution, forming a distinctive Scottish  flavour. The SNP took policy positions which were far closer to the traditional Scottish Left than New Labour ever was. Donald Dewer’s death in October 2000 was a huge loss, and no Scottish Labour Leader has chimed with Scotland like Donald since. Labour simply didn’t understand that a new Scottish identity was taking shape – confident, distinctive and not wanting to be run like an appendage of England

This rise of the SNP and the decline of Scottish Labour resulted in the Scottish Parliament Elections of 2011, where the SNP captured 69 seats, and Labour netted just 37.

In a December 2011 poll IPSOS Mori reported the SNP voting intention at 51%, compared to 26% for Scottish Labour, with Alex Salmond having an approval rating of +35%

This poll also showed the Scottish Conservatives at 12%, and the Scottish Liberal Democrats at 8%

Scotland has been barren for the Scottish Conservatives for decades – they are simply an irrelevant political force.

Against this backdrop, a row between David Cameron and Alex Salmond suits them both. David Cameron knows that Scotland is simply a no-go area for the Conservatives, and if Scotland does vote for independence, Labour loses a large chunk of MPs in Westminster. A Labour Government based on English and Welsh Constituencies looks very, very hard to achieve. David Cameron would see politically the loss of Scotland the same way as Ed Miliband would see the loss of Surrey, Berkshire or Cornwall.

Conversely, the SNP can use any attempt by the Westminster Government to control, delay or intervene in an independence referendum as further evidence of London thwarting the self determination of Scotland.

This is why any war of words between Downing Street and Holyrood helps everyone but Ed Miliband’s Labour.