Saturday 10 April 2010

British general elections are scheduled for May, but the real race in Scotland is between Labour and the Scottish Nationalists.

This article by HDS Greenway from the “Global Post” April 2, 20010, is long at around 900 words, but it is interesting, if you have the time to read it.

EDINBURGH, Scotland — The British general election scheduled for May is now in full cry with the lead the Conservatives once enjoyed now melting away, and a resurgent Labour Party coming on strong.

Last weekend the Labour party held its annual meeting in nearby Glasgow, and Prime Minister Gordon Brown made the usual Labour rant against the Tories, as the Conservatives are called, hoping to extend Labour’s reign well into the next decade.

But in Scotland this is not generating the excitement the two major parties would like. Since Scotland got its own devolved parliament 11 years ago, after a 300-year hiatus, the issues that really affect people’s lives, such as health and education, are decided locally in the Scottish parliament, and the Scottish parliament doesn’t have to hold elections for yet another year.

The Tories, who still have to be the odds on favorites in the coming United Kingdom elections, after 13 years of bumpy Labour rule, do not fare well in either the Scottish parliamentary elections, nor or in national elections here in Scotland. Scotland’s 10 percent of the parliamentary seats in Westminster usually go to Labour candidates, but recently the Scottish Nationalists, who would like to see an Independent Scotland, have been making inroads.

The Scottish parliament is ruled by Scottish Nationalists, albeit with a minority government, under the leadership of the quick-witted and sharp-tongued Alex Salmond. When I met him last year he told me he was hoping to increase his numbers in the British parliament so that he could have more leverage in London. If he succeeds, and if the British election is so close that neither the Tories nor Labour has a clear majority, the Scottish Nationalists could have more influence in the British parliament than they now enjoy. Labour hopes to prevent this.

Scotland, with only about 10 percent of the British population, has always punched above its weight in the United Kingdom and in the British Empire when it covered one-fourth of the globe. Scots were always over-represented in colonial administrations and in the British army. About half of Britain’s last 20 prime ministers have either represented Scottish constituencies in the British parliament, or have been Scots themselves. The present prime minister, Gordon Brown is both.

In 2007 Scottish Nationalists captured the Scottish parliament, housed in a modern building here within sight of Queen Elizabeth’s residence, Holyrood Palace. Salmond hopes to hold a referendum on whether Scotland should be independent or not, but Labour, the Liberal Democratic Party and the Tories are all against holding one. There is little indication — despite all the nationalist rhetoric and the flying of the bonnie blue flag of Scotland — that the Scots are quite ready for a divorce.

In England, however, there is growing bitterness that the Scots get to vote in national elections, and therefore have a voice on how Englishmen are governed, but English people cannot have a say in who rules in Edinburgh.

As Britain continues to become more American — there is now a British Supreme Court based on the American model — so have British elections. The plan is to have Brown, Tory leader David Cameron and Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats hold presidential-style debates between now and the May 6 election. This goes against parliamentary tradition, in which you don’t vote directly for prime minister, you vote for your local party candidate, and then whichever party wins gets to choose the prime minister.

Alex Salmond is making a row, saying that as leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP), he should be included. But the powers that be are saying that there are too few SNP members in the British parliament for Salmond to make the grade. After all, if they let Salmond into the debates, they would have to admit the, Northern Irish and Welsh nationalists, as well as other small minority parties.

After having been bitter enemies for centuries, with the Scots always resisting attempts by the English to conquer them, the two thrones were joined in 1603 when Queen Elizabeth I died childless, and James VI of Scotland became James I of England and Scotland. Each country had its own parliament, however, until 1707 when Scotland, which was broke at the time, agreed to dissolve its own parliament and become one with the Parliament in London.

That England was so obviously the senior partner rankled in the hearts of many Scots, and there were two serious but failed rebellions. But the true story is that within “the span of a single generation” the union “transformed Scotland from a third world country into a modern society and opened up a cultural and social revolution,” wrote Arthur Herman in his book “The Scottish Enlightenment — The Scots Invention of the Modern World.”

It was Tony Blair’s Labour Party that decided, after three centuries, to devolve a measure of power back to Scotland, and restore its parliament, while retaining control over defense, foreign affairs and a good deal of the public purse.

Although the Conservatives may yet win the United Kingdom-wide general election in a few weeks’ time, the race here in Scotland will be between Labour and the Scottish Nationalists, with the Tories and Liberal Democrats being lucky if they can pick up some crumbs from Scotland’s electoral table.


  1. The Conservatives have not been this strong in Scotland since 1992!

    We have an average of 18.2% [electoral calculus figures], and often manage to push up to 20-21%. I rather say that this is a large improvement on the dark days of 12% in 1997, or even the pathetic 15% of 2005!

    Plus, I stake my repute as a gambling man on this, the Scottish Tories shall gain 7+ seats from Scotland on the night.

    Watch this space, and as for the SNP...they better look out in Perth and Angus!

  2. Oh and also, the SNP have in recent polls come only barely ahead of the Tories in Scottish polls... lets not have such short memories!

    I quote directly from Electoral Calculus files:

    Scottish Sun/YouGov 17 Feb 10 - 24 Feb 10 667- SNP 20%, Scots Tories-19%

    Scotland on Sunday/YouGov 24 Feb 10 - 26 Feb 10 1,002 Scots- Tories-20 SNP-21

    I shall continue:

    The Scotsman/YouGov 24 Feb 10 - 26 Feb 10 1,002 Scots Tories-20 SNP- 24 [even here the SNP are, if we also acknowledge the historic trend of Scots Polling to underestimate Tory strength in Scotland, are catchable even here.]

    My point, simply put, the SNP are barely keeping ahead of a resurgent Scottish Toryism. This British GE seems to see the SNP struggling for relevence.

  3. It must be Labour's fault for saying you guys are the opposition Dean....

    Some people are so angry with Brown and hate him so badly that they will vote the way he begs them not to....

    I'll be listening out on polling night for the Perth vote.... remember there's some weirdo right wing independent blokey standing up there. That will take a few away from you, don't you think?

  4. Labours new postcard campaign is a surefire vote winner( not). They stole peoples medical records and sent 250,000 postcards to NHS cancer patients warning them that they could die under the Tories. " A card was sent to a woman who has died of breast cancer." reported The Sunday Times.

  5. Ouch.... that beats anything they have done so far.


  6. Anon: I've just read the article. It's the lead story. Thanks for the heads up. I'm uncertain that I'm awake and that this isn't a dream.

    How could they do that?

    I repeat sickening.... yeuchh

  7. Yes it's sad tris . Labour are truly revolting.

  8. Just when you think that this Labour Lot couldn't get any lower this comes along.

    Words fail me.

  9. however, until 1707 when Scotland, which was broke at the time, agreed to dissolve its own parliament and become one with the Parliament in London.


    the union “transformed Scotland from a third world country into a modern society and opened up a cultural and social revolution,


    It was Tony Blair’s Labour Party that decided, after three centuries, to devolve a measure of power back to Scotland.


  10. I’m always doubtful of snap polls produced by the likes of YouGov for newspapers. I myself do the polls for YouGov by e-mail and am well aware of how biased the brief can be from the commissioning organisation. And am also well aware that they know what my answers will be before they come to me and so they weight their poll appropriately. Obviously if I am the Tory supporting Sun newspaper I do not want a poll that says the Tories are irrelevant do I? And if I am YouGov I don’t want to give the Sun too many polls like that, that won’t sell copies of the Sun do I or I would find my business drying up very quickly.

  11. Instead of looking at polls might I suggest we consider what the grass roots are doing. For that I would direct your attention to the best Labour blog in Scotland that of Kezia Dugdale, office assistant to the haberdasher in chief The Baron Foulkes of Cumnock in the county of Shropshire. Ms Dugdale seems to have a passion for attacking the SNP despite the fact that they are supposed to be irrelevant in Scotland. When she does I always ask her why she is doing that when her leaders, of the clique in Holyrood and the big chief in Dover House say that the Tories are the real opposition. And now of course they have their fab new poster showing things as a two horse race. Strangely she has never answered. She I have no doubt would say I am an SNP crank not worth answering. But that is a bit disingenuous when you are supposed to be writing the best of something. I think the real answer is that she can’t give a proper answer because it’s not true. It is simply a bit of political sophistry designed to pull the wool over the eyes of the gullible.

  12. Anon: Yes, there are some inaccuracies in the article but it is an article published in an up and coming international news source and as such worth looking at. It’s an outside view.

    The vote went, as all votes went, at that time in a house of parliament that was made up of chiefs and nobles. They voted what was best for them. Plus ça change, plus c’est la meme chose!

    The country was broke due to injudicious investments and being a member of the British empire was initially of huge help financially, You can’t argue with that. After a short time the reverse was the truth, although some people made a fortune. Plus ça change.....

    In the third point you are completely correct. It was indeed the Council of Europe that gave us devolution. Blair made sure that it was a badly thought out version (plus ça change....)

    I did point out that it was an article from another source, that I didn’t write it. I appreciate you taking the time to point out the inaccuracies... but is there any need to be so unpleasant about it? Capital letter and ‘FFS’.... !!! Come on Anon.

  13. Hello Conan. Long time no see. What's in the Sunday Post, apart from Oor Willie?

    Don't tell me they spalshed out for a poll? It'll be the janitor asking half a dozen on the street outside the office if they have!!!

  14. Aye Bugger, they are wriggling to get out of it, but I bet they used confidential information. Scumbags.

    The English health department appears to have scrambled up the donor register too. Lord, I hope that's not a UK wide thing run from London. Burnham is embarrassingly hopeless.

    Thank heavens for Nicola Sturgeon and NHS Scotland.

  15. Munguin: I too do Yougov surveys. The start off being inaccurate because they use people who voluteer to do the surveys for money or prizes; so as you say they have an idea of who they are sending the survey to.

    Random they cannot claim to be.

    Secondly they are limited by the fact that they are online (as far as I know, exclusively). The miss out a huge section of the population which have no access to the internet.

    I agree too about the sales pitch that they have to use, although clearly they must conform to an industry standard.

  16. Hey Conan,

    Sorry I bought the Telegraph today for the poll they had on its front cover,and the Cameron declaration of his intent to rule as a One Nation Tory. Anything juicy in the Sunday Post?