Election Results 7

I am rather pleased with my Scottish results prediction, and even more pleased with the result.

Even the BBC has stopped parroting the Labour “It wasn’t that bad” spin. So what do I make of the results, for the UK as well as Scotland?

Plainly, the Conservatives did very well indeed and David Cameron’s more liberal rhetoric, genuine or not, is a huge threat to the Lib Dems in the South of England. In these multi-party days, we saw in 2005 Labour get an overall general election majority with just 37%, so even allowing for mid-term protest gains the Tories should be very happy with 40%, a 13% lead over Labour and an 800 seat gain.

For Labour, perhaps the most disastrous thing is the loss of five hundred councillors from their already shattered activist base. Added to the disappearance of their dominance in Wales and Scotland, it is the blow to the morale of their troops, already shrivelled by Iraq, that is so dangerous. Labour now consists of an extraordinary mixture of trade unionists, ageing loyal but unhappy socialists, and aggressive young neo-conservatives. Look to see the latter leaving the sinking ship for the Tories in the next year or two.

The result is a real disaster for the Lib Dems. Menzies Campbell is very plainly not up to the job. I dislike the ageism being hawked around on this subject. There are plenty of dynamic, energetic, incisive people in their sixties. Campbell just isn’t one of them. He was lacklustre in his forties; it has nothing to do with age. A perfectly worthy MP, he just isn’t star material.

The Scot Nats, and Plaid Cymru, are the big winners. They are also the parties which campaigned most openly against Trident and the war in Iraq, which the Lib Dems downplayed. The Scot Nats need not push too hard for a referendum on independence; a compromise like a free vote in parliament on the referendum would be sensible. A SNP-led coalition in Holyrood, with a Conservative government in Westminster, will bring independence eventually. Alex Salmond needs a little patience.

Nicol Stephen, the Scottish Liberal leader, has about as much charisma as Menzies Campbell. His instincts are to keep the coalition with New Labour going at Holyrood. He is extremely comfortable with New Labour managerialism, and the Lib Dem campaign was marred by visceral hatred of the SNP and an irrational rejection of the very notion of an Independence referendum. I don’t rule out McConnell and Stephen arrogantly carrying on as though nothing had happened. That would lead to a massacre of the Scottish Lib Dems in the medium term.

The Greens were sadly squeezed in Scotland, while the socialist parties were victims of quite incredible levels of personal arrogance and idiocy. A shame that flawed personalities and in-fighting destroyed some of the more interesting diversity in British politics.

Finally, I tend to cock-up not conspiracy on the spoilt ballots debacle. The Labour Party probably suffered worse as their supporters are by definition more stupid. Indeed many of them apparently need someone else to fill in their postal ballots!

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7 thoughts on “Election Results

  • writeon

    Why didn't New Labour sacrifice Tony Blair for the good of the party and their electoral prospects? Why did they choose to let the ship go down with the Captain? Will we ever know the answer to these questions?

    Clearly, New Labour is no longer a fully functioning political party at all. It's become a kind of fanclub for the party leader. The atmosphere at the party conference reminds one of type one used to witness in the old Soviet block. So the Party can't really do dump a leader, but what about the PLP? It's impotent and split in two. Probably New Labour would have broken apart if a concerted effort had been made to oust Blair from power.

    But what of the longterm risks involved of allowing Blair to cling to office for so long? On the surface Labour appears ignorant of the dangers to its very existance as a national party. Perhaps they are so concerned about the short-term, that the long-term slides into the background, like so much else.

    Blair always regarded Labour as a once in a lifetime and fantastic career opportunity and he's milked it for every last drop. The prospects for the party mean nothing to him. At least the Conservatives had the sense and balls to publically remove Thatcher. But because of the concentration of power in so few hands in New Labour such a revolt was impossible.

    But what of the future? What happens to Labour in Scotland votes to become an independent nation? Can Labour succeed merely as an english party without it's historic scottish base?

    How on earth did Labour ever allow the nationalists in Scotland and Wales to ever build-up such a head of steam, that the break-up of the United Kingdom could result? So it seems as if the Labour Party has chosen to literally castrate itself rather than confront Blair. Maybe in the future the true "legacy" of Tony Blair will be not just the destruction of Iraq, but also the Labour Party, and even the United Kingdom?

  • greengorilla

    "Why didn't New Labour sacrifice Tony Blair for the good of the party and their electoral prospects?"

    It seems that no one had the courage to say boo to him. Instead they let the ship sink.

    I don't see why independence for Scotland (should the people want it) is such a bad thing. Both England and Scotland would remain within the EU. What it would mean primarily is a disconnect from Whitehall. What's so bad about that.

    Scotland's erstwhile socialist John Maclaine once predicted that Scotland would first need to regain her independence before British imperialism finally collapsed.

    It wasn't too many years ago that Malcolm Rifkind described Scotland as a colony. He wasn't so far from the truth. The Highlands, in particular, still remain an aristocrat's or MoD playground.

    So far the Scottish parliament has been limited in the kind of changes it is allowed to bring about. Independence would, at least, give it the powers it needs to guide the economy closer to a Scandinavian model. Something that will never happen until the MoD is evicted.

    As Craig says, Alex Salmond needs to be patient. The 'United Kingdom' is rather a misnomer in any case and a Cameron administration will, as Blair's has, only exacerbate disunity.

    Better to leave Empire and its trapping behind and start again.

  • greengorilla

    Craig said: "Finally, I tend to cock-up not conspiracy on the spoilt ballots debacle."

    Some news reporter suggests that the Scottish executive are to blame for combining parliamentary and municipal elections, thus causing the confusion between two different types of PR.

    It would be interesting to study the Holyrood parliament's records to see just who in the Lib-Lab executive pushed so hard to bring about this disaster. That might provide some clues.

    Interesting to note, meantime, that Data Research Services (DRS) bought up the US Peladon which itself had obtained imaging systems from Diebold, the company involved in the US presidential 2004 electoral fraud. Not such a smart move, perhaps, for Peladon/DRS.

  • writeon

    I'm not sure the potential break-up of the United Kingdom is really such a good idea. I'm concerened about powerful forces pulling countries apart and where this might lead us in the future. It doesn't necessarily follow that Scotland would achieve a standard of living comparable to Scandinavia post-independence. Especially now, when North Sea oil is in permanent decline and so much industry has disappeared. Also, I wonder if, after so many centuries of union, are England, Scotland and Wales, really all that different anymore? Finally, I'm not a great fan of fragmentation. Given the problems we all face, I believe we should all be working together to solve them nationally and internationally, breaking down the artificial barriers that keep us apart from one another, not expending valuable energy and time building them up again.

  • Craig

    I think what has counted most with the Labour party has been jobs for the boys, from local councillors to special advisers, MPs and ministers to preferment in the Civil Service to appointments to many thousands of quangos. Labour are a venal party, and cared more about that than, for example, a few dead Iraqis. That is why they hero worshipped Blair at party conferences – That man got me my job (orgasm).

    I am an internationalist myself, but the UK is not an international institution. Of course independence would not cut off Scotland from the English at all – the EU makes that talk redundant.

    What it would do is give Scots the dignity of recognition as a nation and their own chair at the EU and UN. Most crucially, it would deal a key blow to the continued imperial ambitions of the UK. The Scots would not invade Middle Eastern countries or acquire massive nuclear missile systems. It would be much harder, both psychologically and practically, for the English to do so without them.

    There is no especial economic dislocation involved, again because of the EU. Nothing much would immediately change. The notion that Scotland survives on massive handouts of British government money is a propaganda lie. The figures take out oil revenue, which is allocated neither to Scotland nor England but to a notional offshore entity. In fact some 90% is Scottish.

    Yes, oil is a finite resource, but as it dwindles its price increases. With more technical extraction techniques there is significant oil in Scotland for fifty years. More importantly, in terms of wind, hydro and wave power, Scotland's potential resources per head of population are among the best in the World.

  • greengorilla

    Craig writes: "What it would do is give Scots the dignity of recognition as a nation and their own chair at the EU and UN. Most crucially, it would deal a key blow to the continued imperial ambitions of the UK. The Scots would not invade Middle Eastern countries or acquire massive nuclear missile systems. It would be much harder, both psychologically and practically, for the English to do so without them."

    Right on, Craig! Agree with everything you say here. It would be like a new beginning for us all in the British Isles and an end to the bad old, imperialist ways.

  • Strategist

    Well said, Green Gorilla!

    Why should I, an Englishman, be a Scots Nats supporter? Because I see their continuing success as the best chance we in England have of serious & meaningful reform in England. The loss of Scotland would strike the definitive blow against the UK's imperial pretensions and really make a mess of the UK/London-South East establishment.

    Those that rubbish the idea that the Scots will ever vote for independence in a referendum have not thought through how that vote could go in a scenario where Cameron's Tories have a working majority at Westminster based on English seats and despite being fourth-placed in Scotland.

    I personally think we could probably work out a proper written constitutional basis for a federal UK of its component parts, not requiring the complete abandonment of a pan-Great Britain political entity, but there we go.

    We in England have a real problem now. In Scotland and Wales, those who are sickened by New Labour, would never vote Tory, are not exactly thrilled by the LibDems, and are bewildered by the ridiculous Judean Popular Front/Popular Front of Judea fragmentation of the left, have somewhere to go – the Nationalists. In England, despite the valiant efforts of Respect and the Greens, because of First Past the Post, we don't. What we need is electoral reform to recognise we are in a multi-party rather than binary system, and what we need now is a vocal "Campaign for Democracy" and the strategic targetting of the next General Election to get that. The prospect of an eternally Conservative First Past the Post England might just be the catalyst to get the English Labour Party to take electoral reform seriously, with their own survival in those quango jobs Craig mentions very much in mind.

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