Friday, May 07, 2010

Reflections On Elections

Well, so much for Cleggmania. I arrived in an empty polling station at 8.20 last night, commented on the emptiness and was told that it had been really busy, and they reckoned perhaps 80% of the names on their list had already voted.

I took this in, thought about the Lib Dem surge and my daughter's Catholic school, decided I'd never forgive myself if they took the seat, and voted Blue Labour, having decided on seeing the candidate list outside that I'd go for UKIP (we only got one, Tory, election leaflet this year and I didn't even know who else was standing until I saw the list).

I was sorry to see that Shaun Bailey didn't get in.

Outside of that, the salient feature seems to be that Scotland is decoupling from the rest of the British mainland. While the Tories (probably aided a tad by all those English immigrants to Wales) gained seats in the Principality, the Labour vote held up in Scotland (Gordon Brown actually increased his majority) and the Tories still only have one seat there. While the SNP didn't gain any seats, Alex Salmond must surely think it no bad thing that politics north of the Border is becoming so different to politics south of it.

What I can't understand is why Labour are hanging on up there. OK, Scotland hasn't got mass immigration on the English scale, but I would have thought the many other factors which have told against Labour nationally would count there too. Is it the huge State sector in Scotland ? Massive electoral fraud ? Sympathy for an embattled administration with more than its fair share of Scots - anti-Brown sentiment interpreted as anti-Scottish ?

I dinna ken. Any ideas, anyone ?




(and outside, the Dow Jones is taking a massive hit, the Greek debt crisis rumbles on, perilously near the cliff-edge, and the pound is wobbly. All those put-off or lied-about spending and taxing decisions await. Do we need a National Government ? We certainly won't get one.)

20 comments:

staybryte said...

Bit of all of those Laban.

Will surely make it difficult for Labour to work with the SNP though. If Scotland did go all the way to independence Labour would never form an English administration again.

Elsewhere on the Celtic fringes, I speculated last night on CiF on the possibility of Sinn Fein changing its policy on attendance at Westminster, and a Lib Lab pact being dependent on the casting votes of former members of the IRA Army Council. Any thoughts?

Laban said...

former members ?

"They haven't gone away, you know"

(although some of them have, to "New IRA")

staybryte said...

OK Laban, but you get my point.

Tendryakov said...

I think that, with the English countryside gradually being obliterated with homes for 10 million people, probably more, there is going to be an increasing rate of emigration from England to Scotland. I looked at the population density in the Scottish borders - 24 per square km - almost Scandinavian. It's either there or Estonia for me, depending on the willingness of the missus.

Steve T said...

Labour can form a majority in England but would need to continue it's population replacement policy for a few more years. Looks like they may get that chance and they have all the incentive they need.

Sgt Troy said...

"Is it the huge State sector in Scotland ? Massive electoral fraud ? Sympathy for an embattled administration with more than its fair share of Scots - anti-Brown sentiment interpreted as anti-Scottish ?"

In 1950 the Tories were the largest party in Scotland; I'd say that the devastating legacy of Thatcherism is the major factor. The Scots consider themselves as more collectively minded than the English; that surely plays a part as well.

Contrary to what the likes of Lord Tebbit say in the Telegraph about how the Tories would do better with a hard-line workfare and vast cuts yesterday aproach I think Cameron has gone a fair job de-toxifying the Tory brand - and that more "Thatcherism" would have meant significantly less seats.

It seems unlikely that a Lib-Lab coalition would long endure the financial blasts which will arrive shortly.

Very possibly if England can be saved then the Scots will have to make their own way.

The BBC reported that ethnic minorities have tended to stick with Labour; and no doubt postal voting has played its part in communitysolidarity.

The Bard of Burton Bradstock will of course be delighted with the result in his home town; he was on again about the Commons and the English Revolution on radio- the point that if there are no English people left in Barking there will be no interest in this legacy in the place of his birth continues to elude him. Too complicated, clearly

"Do we need a National Government ? We certainly won't get one.)"

If it gets bad enough, which it will, then a "National Gov't" will certainly be on the cards - although the factors which led to relative success in the thirties, protectionism based on Imperial Preference and a high degree of homogenity, bitter class divisions notwithstanding; will be sadly absent.

For parties which have striven to dissolve the nation to try to form a gov't of national unity is deeply ironic, and highly unlikely to succeed.

Stan said...

"In 1950 the Tories were the largest party in Scotland; I'd say that the devastating legacy of Thatcherism is the major factor."

I think that is probably correct. Personally, I think the Union has had it much as it pains me to say it. I'll always believe England and Scotland are stronger united, but if they aren't united then what is the point in maintaining the nominal ties?

Hugh Oxford said...

I stood with a blue rosette outside a polling station in Edinburgh yesterday.

You say that Salmond is happy that politics is becoming more different North of the Border, but let's be honest, this actually seals Scotland more firmly to the UK. It's a client state now -dependent on jobs and welfare provided south of the border. It's ageing - more dependency there, more fear of the Tories.

It's a cultural, moral an intellectual crisis that really works against any realistic prospect of independence - and the Tories.

The big question is also about Cameron, but one that goes across the UK: is he basically too much of a toff? That's a sad prejudice that some people hold but it might be holding the party back.

Malthebof said...

I cannot understand why anyone would vote for NuLab.
However on reflection NuLab are elected where there is a large percent of the population dependent on the State either through benefits or as Employers viz DVLA in Swansea.
Thus the issues that concern me like, a lack of democracy in EU, increasing authoritanarism in UK, lack of future planning for energy & food requirements are not issues at an election.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

It's the huge state sector (well over 50% in Scotland as a whole, and must be over 70% in some cities), plus the visceral Scottish hatred of the Tories - which, imho, is actually due to Mrs. Thatcher's accent.

Foxy Brown said...

I sat in disbelief as I watched Brown increase his majority. He is held in great and genuine affection by his constituents.

Some other possible reasons, as to why Labour do so well in Scotland:

1)As Tendryakov said it is almost Scandinavian and is very sparsely populated. Lots of lovely, lush green space. There's not the rats scrapping in cages perception that you get in England.

2)State subsidies: no university tuition fees; free residential care for the aged and infirm; free prescriptions.

3)Immigration, despite being up, is still minimal. Scottish identity is not threatened, and in fact it has strengthened under devolution. As Sgt. Troy says they are more collectively-minded; this comes with homogeneity of population, diversity being at clear odds with solidarity. The Robert Putnam effect has not yet reared its ugly head.

4)Perfidious Albion will never be forgiven for the poll tax, a factor in the call for the need for Scotland to control its own affairs and have a separate Parliament.

Surely it's time for the individual countries of the UK to go their different ways (Ulster will, I think, throw its lot in with England). However, the cloud does have a silver lining. The lab/lib coalition can now go ahead and wreck the country. The electorate will then have no other choice but to call in the Tories to sort things out.

Foxy Brown said...

@Hugh Oxford,

I stood with a blue rosette outside a polling station in Edinburgh yesterday.

I'm surprised you were not set upon!

Mark said...

Laban and others are right to point to the importance of the continuing divergence of voting patterns in England & Scotland. It is another problem that the political class is both unable and unwilling to address. The bonds of solidarity between England & Scotland have weakened progressively over the last fifty years- and the fact that many urban areas of England aren't recognisably English any more has probably contributed to this trend.

A quasi 'National Government', or an informal Con/Lib pact, will probably try to hold the ring for the next 6-12 months. It will be painful to see it attempt to instil a newly minted, phlegmatic 'Dunkirk Spirit' into a country where loyalties are so fragmented. The gathering sovereign debt crisis is likely to hit public sector largesse very hard, and it will thus have a disproportionate impact on both the diverse inner cities of England, and the Celtic nations. Any informal agreement reached in the coming weeks between Cameron & Clegg is unlikely to endure, as Sgt Troy points out- but then what ?

JuliaM said...

"I cannot understand why anyone would vote for NuLab.
However on reflection NuLab are elected where there is a large percent of the population dependent on the State either through benefits or as Employers viz DVLA in Swansea."


Got it in one. Might as well ask turkeys to vote for Christmas...

Anonymous said...

Lots of astute comments here. Scottish resentment of the English is bred in the bone (I was born there to a very chauvinistic mother) but it needs English taxes to stay afloat. About 73% of all expenditure in Scotland is from the State. at the same time, it is aging and probably declining in population. It's the decay of faith again.

dave fordwych said...

Agree most of comments

During the Thatcher years,the Tories came to be thought of as the Anti-Scottish party.

Unfortunately they still are seen in this way.

Shlomo said...

Good Morning, these are the results for the council elections in the Bromley-by-Bow ward in the Republic of Sylhetistan:

AHMED, Khales Uddin, The Labour Party 2,483 ELECTED

"The number registered to vote at the home of Khales Uddin Ahmed, running to be a councillor in Tower Hamlets, has risen from five to twelve in recent weeks. But a neighbour said that only three people live in the maisonette on a council estate in Bromley-by-Bow."

KHAN, Rania, The Labour Party 2,426 ELECTED

"Round the corner, in a house where a mother and daughter, both Labour councillors, live, three people have recently been added to the voting register, bringing the total to eight.

Rania Khan said that the new names at the four-bedroom house were her husband and two nurses they had taken in as lodgers. “That’s showing the need of the people of Tower Hamlets with the overcrowding situation,” she said."

Please go here for more information.

These are the results for the council elections in the East India & Lansbury ward in the Republic of Sylhetistan:

KHATUN, Shiria, The Labour Party 2,294 ELECTED

"At a maisonette in Poplar, where a Labour councillor, her husband and four children live, three new adults have been recently added to the roll. When The Times asked to speak to the newcomers, Shiria Khatun, who is standing in the elections, slammed the door. Her husband shouted: “Get out from here, bloody bastard.” Ms Khatun later said by telephone that the new residents were two nieces and a nephew who were sleeping on a sofa and the floor."

Please go here for more information.

All stories courtesy of The Times

Blakey said...

Protestant working-class Scots began turning away from the Tories in the 1970s. The collapse of the Unionist vote began before Thatcher, although the policy of deliberate deindustrialisation accelerated that process.

Anonymous said...

Its a bizarre situation.

Many Scots are reared to despise the English while relying on the bigoted English to maintain the Scottish economy.

Instead of weakening the union its only making it stronger.

Labour become more and more dependent on Scots voters and keep granting more largesse, voters who become more and more fearful of tory rule yet more and more wedded to English tax money. And of course the tories pander too in the hope of winning them back and to maintain the union.

I think there was a time when the SNP looked to the EU to hose it down with cash, just as the EU doused Ireland. Im sure Salmond would have been happy to turn an independant Scotland into a compliant little EU lap dog. But that gravy train has hit the buffers, just look at Greece.

Another irony I suspect is that if economically Scotland's position improved and it became less of a client of state spending the forces driving independence and the SNP would wither as well.

The SNP are kind of caught in a nexus, they need Scotland's economic problems to be maintained to divide Scotland from England but at the same time those problems cannot allow the Scots to break away. Most Scots cannot be as wedded to independance as we are led to believe. Else they would have voted to leave long ago and damn the cost.

Mark said...

'of course the tories pander too in the hope of winning them back and to maintain the union'.

The Tories are in la-la land on this issue.Any discussions, and ultimate deal, with the Lib Dems on 'electoral reform' should cover both PR and the representation of N Ireland & Scotland in the Westminster parliament. These countries return 18 & 59 MPs respectively to a parliament whose principal business is domestic legislation affecting England & Wales. The Tories should agree to offer the Lib Dems a bill proposing a referendum on PR (probably the introduction of AV)on one condition, namely that the Lib Dems support another bill reducing the Irish & Scottish seats at Westminster to 12 & 40 respectively. (In the case of N Ireland this would simply mean a return to the status quo that applied there until the 1970s).

The Tories 'unionist credentials' would go down the toilet as a consequence of such a deal but hey, these 2 countries between them produce only 1 Tory MP in the current 'mother of parliaments!