I’m taking a weekend off to recover from working all night on the election coverage – there will be the usual YouGov/Sunday Times survey night but I expect there will be little else anyway. So, in terms of the aftermath for the elections, what’s the impact?

In the locals, Labour gained 800 seats, so not that far outside expectations. Gains were very much concentrated in the North, in the cities and against the Liberal Democrats. They had some good performances – places like Waveney and Gravesham – but these were more the exception than the rule. They did very well indeed in Wales, but horribly in Scotland. Because it was a mixed bag, because the Tories didn’t do badly and because Labour did so badly in Scotland these elections probably aren’t going to give Ed Miliband the big boost they could have – it’s not going to be reported in the media as Ed Miliband’s first big victory. I had expected (and have been predicting for months on end when people ask) that Labour would open up a bigger lead in the polls after May as the locals would be seen as the start of Labour’s big comeback… on the back of this I’m not sure they will.

The Liberal Democrats took the thorough kicking everyone expected – if anything, it was worse. They avoided wipeout in Wales, in Scotland they were pushed back to just the island seats and top-ups, recieving derisory votes in many seats with their vote often appearing to shift wholesale to the SNP. In their more Northern and urban councils they often faced wipeout in those seats contested, in most councils that were a contest between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats they made losses (with a very few notable exceptions like Eastleigh and Cotswold where they made gains). It remains to be seen how the party reacts to the defeats – a couple of Lib Dem leaders on councils have called for Clegg’s head, but none of the party’s big guns so far.

The Conservatives did surprising well. The Rallings and Thrasher projections had them losing about 900 seats or so, in reality they made a small net gain. The reason seems to be that Labour’s best advances were in places the Tories didn’t have many councillors to lose (and where wards are larger, so there are fewer councillors per voter!), so the Conservative loss to Labour was smaller than might have been expected and cancelled out by Conservative gains from the Liberal Democrats across the South. The Conservatives don’t seem to be crowing about making gains (probably so as not to further unsettle the coalition or set themselves up for a fall when the mid term losses that are still inevitably eventually do arrive). David Cameron himself probably would have faced a lot of dissent from his backbenchers had the AV referendum been lost, but it wasn’t. The question now is probably more what (if anything) he doesn’t to bolster the position of his coalition partners.

The SNP were the unadulterated victors of the night – Scotland was simply a massive, sweeping, SNP landslide, a magnificent victory. There were a couple of polls (from TNS and Scottish Opinion) in the final few days that reported massive SNP leads, much bigger than the more modest ones being shown by YouGov, that at the time I’d assumed were going to be wrong. While the Scottish Opinion 30 point SNP lead obviously didn’t materialise, they were obviously picking up a genuine wave of support towards the SNP at the end of the campaign (and, indeed, YouGov’s internal experiment with exit polling also picked up a big shift towards the SNP, if not to it’s full extent). In Scotland the SNP are now the masters – the effect on wider British politics will be whether this leads to a referendum on Scottish independence and if so when.

The AV referendum went down to the defeat that almost everyone now expected and that the polls had been showing for weeks (the final results were 32/68, so ICM got it bang on). There will be time later to dissect exactly why the NO campaign won so convincingly, but beyond the destabilising effect it has had on the coalition (and what degree that was real or feigned), its now more of an academic point. Electoral reform is now presumably a dead issue for at least a Parliament or two.

Now, I’m off for a rest!


243 Responses to “Election post-mortem”

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  1. RobbieAlive

    I was awaiting your scintillating analysis of why Scotland’s economic performance has been so weak in comparison with our comparators.

    I presume that you have also looked at Scotland’s GVA data. Even using the distortion of excluding the maritime sector, Scotland’s GVA exceeds that of every part of the UK outside the South East.

    It would be nice if one could easily access the real GVA data for Scotland but, as you know, the Ex Regio “region” was deliberately created to hide such figures.

  2. Amber

    I think that with a majority of 151, East Lothian is the worst possible seat to try to parachute in a Labour heavyweight. The likelihood of him/her sinking without trace would be too great.

    Your best chance would be to get Elaine Smith to commit hari-kiri and have Jim Murphy as the candidate in Coatbridge & Chryston.

  3. @ Old Nat

    Any bold Labour strategy would have to be seen to be bold. To be bold, means taking a risk. If the candidate can’t win East Lothian convincingly, then they’re not going to be able to do the job we need them to do.

    And I’d be willing to bet real money that, if Labour do pursue a strategy of this kind, the candidate won’t be Jim Murphy or Douglas Alexander.
    8-)

  4. Amber

    Fair point. I’d be interested to hear who you think could be parachuted in to fill what Tom Devine described as “the intellectual chasm” in Scottish Labour. (He obviously hadn’t read your posts, or he was just talking about the elected members).

  5. Amber

    I’m off to bed now, but a thought for you. You might parachute in one person to the Parliament, but how on earth are you going to match the strength in depth of the SNP team?

  6. @robinp

    “Although Labour’s performance in Scotland is very disappointing (for Labour supporters) it must be stressed that

    Labour’s vote actually held up. The SNP victory was mainly due to the collapse of the LibDems. Whereas in England

    the LibDem collapse was to Labour (there was no other major party they could go to) in Scotland it collapsed to

    the SNP.

    Labour’s post-mortem needs to examine why disaffected Scottish LibDems chose SNP over Labour.”

    Robin.

    It is true that the SNP have gained on the Lib Dem losses, but it’s only part of the picture. I’ve done some sums

    on this. With help from the boundary commission 2011 constituency changes I’ve single out one for you. There were

    four which did not change at all.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/08_09_10_boundaryreport.pdf (Bottom of p.2)

    Cumbernauld and Kilsyth; Nah h-Eilanan an Iar; Orkney Islands; Shetland Islands.

    The latter three are ‘special cases’ in that they have different ways of life from mainland Scotland, and as such,

    different priorities. Equally, they were not Labour before the 2011 election, but I have included their data

    anyway. One interesting factor is that with lower populations, the changes due to a lowering of turnout are more

    pronounced. Here’s a screendump of the ‘sums’.

    http://imageshack.us/f/194/votep.png/ (Yes I know I’ve typed Cumberbauld, grr)

    Focussing on Labour’s votes %, we can see that from 2007 to 2011:

    Na h-Eileanan an Lar: -13.0%
    Orkney Islands: -7.5%
    Cumbernauld & Kilsyth: -7.9%
    Shetland Islands: -0.2%

    Labour’s Electorate % change:

    Na h-Eileanan an Lar: -8.8%
    Orkney Islands: -4.2%
    Cumbernauld & Kilsyth: -5.2%
    Shetland Islands: -0.4%

    However, Labour’s vote change (2007 votes Vs 2011 votes):

    Na h-Eileanan an Lar: -1943 (34.3% drop)
    Orkney Islands: -676 (59.6% drop)
    Cumbernauld & Kilsyth: -2536 (20.0% drop)
    Shetland Islands: -0.2% (7.5% drop)

    That puts things in a clearer focus, especially in the Cumbernauld constituency, which was a Labour seat in 2007 (albeit not a particularly safe seat). If we also take a look at the national voting:

    Constituency Totals:

    Labour 2007: 648374
    Labour 2011: 630461

    The drop is 17913 or 2.6% nationally. The Lib Dem drop is 51.7, the Conservatives had a 17.4% drop, while in contrast the SNP had a gain of 36% of national votes cast.

    Regionally, Labour had a 12.1% drop, the Lib Dems dropped 55.1%, the Conservatives 13.4%, and the SNP had a rise of 38.4%.

    It seems to be a classic case of Labour looking for any way to spin the results to minimise their press release, but the bottom line is that they lost by one seat in 2007, and saw it as a blip, rather than a warning. They were complacent and got caught out.

  7. Very long post that.

    Want to add to it.

    While the Labour Party is trying to talk up their result in any way possible (the 0.5% thing), what they don’t talk about is the rise in SNP votes.

    Is it just the Lib Dem vote? I doubt it. In some cases the Lib Dem drop is tiny in number to the SNP increase. Cumbernauld is a good example. Lib Dem drop of 1303. The turnout drop accounts for 53 of the 1303, leaving 1250 ‘lost votes’. The SNP gained 3002 votes in that seat. The total of lost votes by Lab, Lib and Con after factoring turnout, comes to approx 4000. Perhaps the SNP took a chuck of all the other parties.

    I have a feeling that many Lib Dems failed to turn out, but other voters, sick of Labour, inclined to “never vote Tory again”, and keen to give the Lib Dems a kicking, turned out to vote SNP.

    Tavish Scott did declare in a televised debate or two that the Election was the Independence referendum, and to vote SNP if you wanted Independence. Perhaps those words galvanised those who would have otherwise stayed away.

  8. OldNat,

    – “Your best chance would be to get Elaine Smith to commit hari-kiri and have Jim Murphy as the candidate in Coatbridge & Chryston.”

    I suspect that even that might be doomed to failure. Smith only has a Maj of 2,741, and the SNP need a swing of just 5.9% to gain the seat. Emminently do-able in any by-election, but especially in an attempted “parachute” by-election. Voters hate those.

    Then factor in that we have more money and members than SLAB, that we are motivated and excited, while they are are the back foot. It is a recipe for SLAB disaster.

    I have been trying to put myself in SLAB’s shoes, and I am pretty sure I know what I’d do if I was in their situation.

    However, being a tight Scot, I’m not going to publish my draft strategy for free. And my consultancy fees are high. Sky high. ;)

  9. Amber,

    – “… the candidate won’t be Jim Murphy or Douglas Alexander.”

    Fairy nuff. The only problem is that Murphy and Alexander are the only talented MPs you have.

    As regards East Lothian, it is not an easy seat for west coasters to simply stroll in to and feel at home. I’m an Edinburgher myself, and East Lothian has a very particular and proud sense of “place” and identity.

    Not an easy seat at all.

  10. The London based press are completely preoccupied with the notion of an independence referendum in Scotland.

    The issue did not appear to feature largely in the campaign and indeed polling seems to suggest no evidence of the majority of Scots supporting it. The swing to the SNP appears to have occurred for very different reasons (public approval of many of their policies, dissatisfaction with the Labour Party and the LibDems).

    A tricky decision for the SNP. They have had the excuse up to now of being able to say that their lack of majority would prevent them from getting any independence referendum through the Scottish Parliament. No such excuse can now be used, but they know that timing is critical. At the moment any such referendum would likely result in a ‘No’ vote.

    Will Salmond simply opt for trying to extend the parliament’s powers instead?

  11. “what they don’t talk about is the rise in SNP votes.
    Is it just the Lib Dem vote? I doubt it”

    Total votes cast (constituency and List)

    NATS LAB CON LIB

    ’07 1297628 1243789 618748 556903

    ’11 1779336 1154020 522619 261186

    Change 07-11

    NATS +481,708

    Lab -89,769

    Con – 96129

    Lib – 295,717

    Pretty clear that the vast majority of votes came from the Lib Dems- you really ought to be big enough to admit that !

    Plus Labour being minus 89k on a 2007 total of 1.25M is not really an unmitigated disaster is it? C’mon be honest!

    But NATS putting on almost half a million votes 2007-2011 is a great achievement admitted.

    Now you just have to make sure you don’t let down these one and three quarter expectant voters……

  12. On polling.

    Looks like ICM was bang on for the referendum and their VI was identical to the actual share of the vote for the locals (although I know a GE VI question is different from those casting votes).

    So the question is … is YG daily tracking out of step and not picking up the true scale of the LD support, or did ICM happen to fluke on getting close with GE VI but it’s misleading cos LDs generally get a 3% boost on GE VI for locals??

    I.E. Is the true scale of party support for GE VI somewhere between YG and ICM? Which would make the rolling UKPR average (which I know Anthony dislikes for lots of reasons) pretty close to the mark?

    Thoughts anyone??

    (Actually the daily tracking is very helpful to pick up trends in support but are the actual figures out, and if LDs are closer to 12-13% then Lab figure will be correspondingly lower as it seems LDs support is going straight to Lab).

  13. @RobbieAlive/Oldnat/Andy C –

    Not sure if this helps, but here is a quote for you –

    “A report written by the Scottish Office economist Gavin McCrone for ministers in 1974 indicated that with ownership of North Sea oil, an independent Scotland would have “embarrassingly” large tax surpluses.[16][17] The report also stated that the economy of an independent Scotland, with control over the majority of UK North Sea oil revenue, would have one of the “hardest” currencies in Europe and that “for the first time since the Act Of Union was passed, it can now be credibly argued that Scotland’s economic advantage lies in its repeal.”[18][19][20]”

    It’s from Wikipedia, so cannot be taken as gospel, and refers to a much earlier period, but it does have references (I’ve left the numbers in to demonstrate this but they won’t work here and I haven’t the time or inclination to follow these up).

    In short, it appears pretty clear from the factual evidence that if oil is taken into account, with anywhere from 90 – 98% of the current UK supply in Scottish territorial waters, according to internationjal law (and the various UK acts relating to Scotland) Scotland’s economy would be nicely off at present, probably with a net gain if they had independence, with England/Wales/NI becoming relatively poorer.

    I suppose the question then becomes whether this is sustainable. In 20 or 30 years I would be worried if I was living in an independent Scotland, as the oil output is falling. Set against this, there are prospects for major oil finds in deep waters off Rockall that could tip the balance again, but are unknown in their extent, technically difficult to access and subject to international ownership disputes. One thing would be sure though – these would not be English.

    There are also great renewable energy resources for Scotland in terms of wind, wave, tidal, hydro and biomass – even experimental osmotic turbines (pretty much everything except solar..) – it has the best potential renewable energy density of any European country, and with the agreement to proceed with the European DC supergrid, this potential will effectively be able to be sold throughout Europe. In this regard, Scotland is sitting on top of an energy goldmine.

    Where does this leave us? As an ex pat Scot (living in England) and one opposed to independence, I would suggest;
    – that claims that the Scottish economy is too small to survive independently are wrong
    – that it’s likely that the current oil production would mean that Scotland would be economically better off under independence
    – that this position could reasonably be expected to deteriorate as oil revenues decline unless there is effective use of the asset in the meantime by way of good investment for the future
    – that there are reasons to think that the energy sector could still provide Scotland with a very substantial export industry long after North Sea oil is gone, although there are significant uncertainties over this.

    Given all this, I actually think English people would be rather stupid wanting to see Scottish independence.

    Speaking as an expat Scot, the next question is whether this surprises me…………….

  14. @Adrian B – “Looks like ICM was bang on for the referendum and their VI was identical to the actual share of the vote for the locals…”

    I dn’t think we can say this – it’s comparing apples and oranges. ICM’s?YG VI polls presumably included Westminster voting questions for London, Scotland, Durham, Northumberland etc – mainly significantly more Labour leaning areas. Actual votes cast that you are using to suggest ICM are right and YG wrong were for the locals only in England, where we would expect a better Tory score.

    What you would need to do would be to compare the VI polls regional breakdowns in those voting areas only, and then see what the differences are.

  15. “I presume that you have also looked at Scotland’s GVA data. Even using the distortion of excluding the maritime sector, Scotland’s GVA exceeds that of every part of the UK outside the South East.”

    I quite like to go to the EUROSTAT website and look at their database for the latest GDP comparison data for NUTS2 level- a much nicer level when trying to compare ‘Scotland-the-nation’ against the regions of the UK (if you want to compare nations then compare scotland and england: if you did you would see england performing better).

    Of the four NUTS2 Scottish regions only one has GDP at or higher than the UK average. Of the 32 English NUTS2 regions 10 have GDP at or higher than the UK average.

    So a quarter of Scots regions plays a third of english regions….

  16. alec

    from the same wonderful site you quoted:

    “The BBC economist Evan Davis however reported prior to the 2007 Scottish Parliament election that the Barnett formula already allows Scotland to sustain higher levels of per capita public spending relative to the rest of the UK, which is approximately equivalent to its disproportionatly high annual contribution of tax revenues to the central UK Treasury from Oil production”

    Swings and fiscal roundabouts.

    Furthermore- unlike at the time of Viscount Stansgates tenure as energy secretary (and the last major rise of scottish nationalism) the oil fields are owned by private corporations not the government.

    So- thanks to the privatisations of the 1980’s- what we are arguing about is the tax revenue not the fields themselves.

    Most recent estimates put the reserves at 44 years worth not 20-30 years.

  17. To be fair, I think Yougov was pretty accurate too if you take the last polling figures before the election, which saw the lead drop to 2%. This pretty much brought it in line with other pollsters.

    It’s like I have always said, polls aren’t necessarily inaccurate, it’s just that there is often a late movement towards the incumbents during an election. Now that the election is over, the lead will open up to around 5% again IMO.

  18. Could the negotiating posture of the LibDems be what keeps them in the coalition but ultimately mean they won’t get the voters back that they’ve lost?

    Essentially there are 5 negotiating ‘styles’ –
    1) Force (Tribalists) – you only care about your own side’s view and not about the other side’s view (the style that Labour’s team adopted during negotiations?).
    2) Giving up – you don’t really care about your own side’s view and only about the other side’s view.
    These are the ‘shark’ and ‘fish’ (dom/sub) groups. This is how hierarchies tend to work.
    3) Avoidance – You aren’t really concerned about your own view or the other side’s view. So you avoid negotiation as best as you can.
    4) Co-operation – You care about your own side but also the other side’s view. You’re willing to listen and adjust your view – but not concede.
    5) Concessions – Where you’re willing to meet in the middle.

    From an outsider looking in, it seems to me that the LibDem negotiators are all in group 5 –
    ‘This is what happens in coalitions’.

    But the Tories are made up of two groups – Group 5 (Gove and Cameron) and Group 1 (Osborne and Tory backbenchers).

    So while the LibDems are willing to concede and meet in the middle (Tuition fee policy – Tory policy but with funding for poor students), etc,
    Cameron has to manage meeting in the middle with the LibDems and also with his tribalists – so policy would favour the Tory policy.

    So while both are compromising, the policy leans toward Tories.
    You can see this with the AV argument – Gove argued that the Tories should back AV because they can form a partnership with the LibDems.
    Osborne argued that they should fight AV.
    Cameron met in the middle between Gove and Osborne – but as more pressure came from his tribalists, he leaned further toward Osborne’s view.

    And the LibDem voters that they’ve lost (centre-left/left tribalists (group 1) and left-wing pluralists (group 4)) will not come back.
    The core that’s left are Group 5.
    So perhaps Nick was right a while ago when he argued that the LibDems should focus on centre-right voters (Group 5 Tories) and forget the voters they’ve lost.

    This also leaves a problem for the Labour party – how do they keep both the left/centre-left tribalists but also the left/centre-left Group 4 types?
    Because the arrogant tribal attitude really puts Group 4 types off.

    Long post – just some thoughts.

  19. @Rob Sheffield – the Wikipedia entry you quoted also then goes on to say that – “However Scotland’s per capita spending growth, relative to the rest of the UK, has in recent years, been nominally reduced by the operation of the Barnett Formula, in order to bring public spending levels into line with the UK average, in a phenomenon that had been dubbed the “Barnett Squeeze”.

    This, along with rises in oil prices and therefore revenues, means that it is likely that the current notional oil revenues due to a Scottish government would outweigh the (reducing) excess spending.

    I’m not arguing the micro detail here though – I’m just making the point that I really do believe there is a misconception in England over what shape an independent Scotland would take and how the natural resources would be divided.

  20. Amber

    Labour never learns from its mistakes. It denies and then forgets them. That is why it deserves to fail.

    Do you not remember Reginald Sorensen?

    Iain Gray might be the best leader you have.

    Bavarianisation is what you need.

    You also need to ensure that anyone associated with promotion of the stupid strategy of opposition for opposition’s sake is sent to Westminster where these purile games are admired for tradition’s sake and doesn’t interfere with the effective working of a serious parliament.

  21. Rob Sheffield,

    “Pretty clear that the vast majority of votes came from the Lib Dems- you really ought to be big enough to admit that !”

    He can correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t what he say IMPLY that? His point, as far as I can tell, was that all parties lost support to the SNP.

    Additionally, in many Labour heartlands in Glasgow, the SNP gains were obviously at the expense of Labour. That has to be factored into the SLAB post-trainwreck inquiry.

  22. @John B Dick Thanks very much for your comment re the origins of the Scottish Parliament. I never met Donald Dewar but I certainly felt the truth about the voting system was closer to your account than the “bash the nats” narrative of the media. I did meet Professor Alice Brown through my studies who also played a part in creating the parliament’s structures and she was certainly genuine in her desire that the parliament be pluralistic in both it’s party political composition and it’s membership.

    You need to keep up the good work of telling the true story.

  23. Being rather mischievous – instead of letting Scotland declare UDI could we instead jetison South East England? After all it is the rest of the country that creates the UKs wealth, with renewable energy, manufacturiing, and process industries

  24. @Northumbrianscot – I’ve been scratching my head slightly about this idea that devolution was set up specifically to prevent the SNP winning. I recall the long and difficult convention discussions, but my memory was much more that Donald Dewar was keen to ensure other parties didn’t see this as an attempt for Labour to dominate – a much more likely scenario then than the SNP. I recall this was one of the arguments put by the then scornful Tories.

    We always have to remember that the British media are fundamentally useless at 1) Remembering what has happened 2) Understanding what is happening and 3) Predicting what will happen.

    It’s up to people like you and the others posting on places like this to make sure the media can access something like the truth.

    @Eric Goodyer – that’s a very interesting point. London and the south east will have a very strong service sector and clearly would be very heavily reliant on finance, but presumably much of this will be reliant on imports and profits earned overseas, rather than productive capacity within the region.

    I have often pointed out to Nats on here the implications for an independent Scotland arising from the collapse of Scottish banks, but similarly I wonder how London and the south east would fair if the full weight of the financial collapse had to born by them?

  25. @TingedFringe – “.. the style that Labour’s team adopted during negotiations?”

    I am always interested in reports about these negotiations. The account I heard was that LDs started by reading out a list of the concessions they had from Tories and invited Labour to go one better on each item. Labour began to think they were being used… to extract better terms from the Tories.

    Be that as it may.

    Obviously LD MPs still have a mandate from the electorate at the GE. Governing parties tend to lose support, but in a coalition situation where support for one party has largely held up and for the other it has collapsed this must change the dynamic/power balance/negotiating posture, a point that is being proclaimed loudly on the Tory right.

    Anne McElvoy, a journalist I rarely agree with, but who nevertheless has her finger on the pulse, has been humourously comparing Coalition 2.0 to a range of different film sequels.

    Signs of sympathy have been apparent in certain quarters of the Tory party for LD’s predicament for a while now, but barely suppressed ridicule would be highly corrosive to the relationship.

  26. Alec,

    Your comments about Scotland’s energy wealth are valid, and do indeed provide support for the economic viability of an independent Scotland.

    But ….(and I am sure this is a “but” you have already considered given your opposition to independance) … oil wealth can be a mixed blessing as we can see from numerous examples around the world.

    Many Scots would point to Norway as an example of a relatively small country (in pop terms) with significant wealth which has used this to support excellent public / social services, and see this as a path which Scotland could emulate. However, one should bear in mind the following key points:

    1 – Norway is not a member of the EU – it is therefore free to manage its affairs without interference from external busibodies. In this respect the inherent contradiction in the slogan of “Indepence in Europe” matters.

    2 – Norway’s population is widely dispersed with existing cities / industries located near key offshore sites such that they do not have one booming, but relatively small, region to carry a large decaying industrial hinterland.

    3 – Norway still has other flourishing industries – including fishing, forestry and mining. Again, these are widely dispersed geographically so that employment is widespread.

    Contrast each of the above with Scotland’s position, and the tensions which would soon arise become apparent.

    If Central Belt Scots feel that they are in a peripheral part of the UK where decisions are taken by a remote southern government with diferent concerns and priorities, just imagine how the enrgy rich regions of Scotland will feel within an independant Scotland. Not to mention that if the Shetlands then declared UDI from Scotland that would destroy the economics.

  27. @ROB SHEFFIELD

    Yes the Labour vote never went down by a huge margin in this election but don’t let that get in the way of anything.
    Labour lost over 80,000 votes in its Heartland seats. They only won their core vote which clearly isn’t enough in Scotland where 67% of Scots are not core Labour voters.

    Every gov who win elections wins on the back of other party’s collapsing, Tony Blair in 97 took the Tory vote, SNP in 2011 took the Lib/Dem vote..So what?
    In some of Labour’s heartland seats the Labour vote simply imploded.

    Labour rubbished the list system as second rate for second rate MSP’s. Now what do they think now that most of their MSPs are lists.

    Take away the list MSPs and it looks like this.
    SNP 53 Labour 15 Tory 3 and Lib 2.
    I think we should do away with PR in Scotland and make Labour eat their words.. ;)

  28. @Paul H

    I have seen the Shetland factor being bounded about by those who would love to see Scotland break up when Scotland breaks off from the UK.

    Shetland is merely a platform for Scottish oil to be transported, most of the oil fields would not fall into Shetlands waters.

  29. @ Paul HJ

    On Norway.

    Norway has annual oil revenues a little larger than Scotland’s? But it has $500 billion plus! in its Petroleum Fund or whatever it is called: in a country of 5 mill. They argue about what to do with this money all the time, but the fact that they were capable of creating this vast “rainy-day fund” suggests a social partnerhship & cohesion missing from any part of the UK.

  30. @RobbieAlive

    “the fact that they were capable of creating this vast “rainy-day fund” suggests a social partnerhship & cohesion missing from any part of the UK.”

    It’s mainly an indicator of the fact that in the 80s they didn’t have a Thatcher government pi55ing away their inheritance.

  31. @Robbiealive – “….but the fact that they were capable of creating this vast “rainy-day fund” suggests a social partnerhship & cohesion missing from any part of the UK.”

    Absolutely. I would like to think that an independent Scotland would have behaved much more like Norway rather than Westminster in this regard. The key question for today would be whether there is sufficient time to build up such a fund before oil revenues fade – this would be my big concern over the economics of independence.

  32. Dave

    While we are on the spelling of Scottish place names …

    It’s “NA H-EILEANAN AN IAR” (Islands of the West)

    Lar would be ground or floor (Islands on the floor – which would be less than complimentary :-) )

  33. oldnat

    Your rush to label me as a ‘partisan’ is slightly amusing and a re-writing in itself.

    If you were ” persuaded into error by the words that you actuall used.” you might pause to consider teh words that you did not. Let me be more explicit: do you find myth-peddling more acceptable when it comes from a Nat source?

    I ask because you seem more exercised about the implication that ‘re-writing’ is recent, than the fact that it was done, in this forum, by one of your Nat colleagues.

  34. @ Oldnat
    I presume that you have also looked at Scotland’s GVA data. Even using the distortion of excluding the maritime sector, Scotland’s GVA exceeds that of every part of the UK outside the South East.
    It would be nice if one could easily access the real GVA data for Scotland but, as you know, the Ex Regio “region” was deliberately created to hide such figures.”
    Yes the Scottish GVA data are good. Much less so, however, when based on market-activity, i.e,., excluding the Public S. Besides, if Scotland is so wealthy then why is P. S. per capita spending so high; as unrelated to need it must be Union-politically determined?
    The largest & most flourishing sector of the economy is financial services: would this be the case if Scotland was outside Sterling, leaving aside the fact that the sector had to be rescued by London money.
    Rewinding history: if Scotland had entered the EU as an independent country, then membership of the Euro would surely have followed. Scot. would now be trapped in an overvalued currency v Sterling. Would this have strangled the (very) recent Scot. econ. recovery, based on sterling’s weakness, which sustains tourism, exports, foreign investment.
    Of course, productivity in Scotland is vastly higher in foreign-and English-owned firms than in Scottish ones. Can one assume that this investment would be just as high after indepedence.
    The ex regio [regione in Latin] deal on offshore resources might be a fix. Dunno. But the recent surge in oil revenues depends on inflated oil prices: might not last. Scot. may or may not be better-off under independence. I just cannot see that point in misty-eyed optimism that all would be well.

  35. @Oldnat

    Yup. That’s my fault. Mistook a capital i for small L.

    * slaps wrists *

  36. A last note on the Holyrood election: Labour will make a comeback in Scotland if and when they manage to present themselves as the party of consensus. If one looks at the parties which have had really dominant election results in Scotland (the Tories in 1955, Labour in 1997 and now the SNP in 2011) they have all been parties that have been able to portray themselves as the party of rational consensus between as many groups in Scottish society as possible. That’s the kind of politics that Scotland likes.

    In 2007 and 2011, the SNP presented themselves as a party of national consensus: low taxes + a generous welfare state. Call it the “pretty face of capitalism”.

    For me, the moment when the SNP won the election was when they were able to win the backing of both trade union veterans and major employers. It was at that point that I started to believe the opinion polls.

    The challenge for Labour is to regain that position as the party of national consensus in Scotland. The challenge for the SNP is to hold onto it during a period of strained finances. Their respective performances in this regard over the next five years will determine the outcome of the 2016 election.

  37. Allan Chrisie

    Can I just remind you of the obvious: that we still use FPTP for Westminster.

    Though the constituencies are somewhat different, the balance between Labour and SNP can’t be that much different and all remaining Labour held constituencies for the Scottish Parliament are now marginals.The UK coalition parties are unlikely to improve their position in Scotland.

    It will take some time for Labour to recover and become a creditable alternative and meanwhile the SNP will continue to govern competently with great enthusiasm and energy. If Labour continue to be so incompetently led and London led, then the SNP could be even more dominant in the next Westminster election.

    It isn’t any effect on the balance of parties at Westminster that is important.

    Before the Scottish Parliament came into existence and before referenda became fashionable, the SNP’s only peaceful and democratic route to independence was for a majority of Scots MP’s to leave the UK parliament.

    I don’t know if the SNP have a policy for a situation where they had 73% of Scottish Westminster MP’s, but they had better get one before the next UK election when they could easily have even more.

  38. Bill Patrick

    Your last paragraph sums it up. I hesitate to offer any predictions as to the outcome given that I expected a narrow SNP win, but it seems to me that the SNP will sweat blood to meet their objective and it will take a long time for Labour to turn themselves around.

    Apart from the question of competence and experience, anyone who was a front-bencher in the last parliament is tainted with failure and almost certainly hasn’t got what it takes.

    The idea of drafting in someone from Westminster to continue with the policy of opposing anything the SNP does, but in an even more combative way would be a gift to the SNP. They don’t have many constituency MSP’s to choose from anyway.

    It may be that the only person who can do what they need to do is Susan Deacon and the party needs an even more crushing defeat before they would be ready for that.

    She has other fish to fry and probably wouldn’t do it anyway.

    Short of that, the only effective opposition is Patrick Harvie and Annabel Goldie. ‘m sure they will do their best, but there is a limit to what two people can do with no more than a handful of backers.

  39. Hi all, I’ve been an avid reader of the comments on this blog for a couple of years now, though I have contributed next to nothing I admit.

    I just wanted to refer to a number of the comments I’ve read on this thread, and those recently related. about a perception of Scots and the SNP that is obviously pretty widespread down south. A number of you seem to be quite convinced that Scots in general and the SNP in particular are quite happy with the current situation of living from a grant determined by a formula rather than ‘living within our means’ – whilst ‘unfairly’ demanding extra powers. Nothing could be further from the truth and anyone living up here for any reasonable length of time would understand this to their core in a way similar to that which allows you (and us) to understand, without questioning, for example, that the tories tend to favour private enterprise. I realise that this site is meant for the discussion of opinion polling; I wanted to mention this because I believe pretty strongly that understanding this is absolutely vital context for the interpretation of any polling done in the run up to the now inevitable independence referendum.

    The extra powers that are being saught are, in the main, full fiscal autonomy which is nothing if it is not ‘living within our means’. The SNP have been campaigning for this while in government for some years now. The SNP, and I have to say almost certainly also the majority of Scots, being pretty proud people, hate the idea of not living within our means. The obvious problem with ffa from the unionist perspective is that it stands to demonstrate in a very obvious way whether Scotland is, financially speaking, a net contributor or receiver. The public intention of the Calman commission was to provid a framework that goes some way to eliminating the moral hazard of the current situation, but it is obviously pretty difficult to do that completely without creating ffa. The SNP has been arguing for more fiscal responsibility, not less. Calman has been offering less.

    It is, and admittedly this is just an opinion, starting to look pretty obvious that the Calman recommendations are designed to make the situation more complex even that the current ‘solution’ with a view to making it more difficult for the general population to assess our financial viability. It is starting to look very much like the unionist side has something to hide and if the UK government now resist the SNP’s call for more financial powers (and hence accountability) this is going to look more suspicious still. If Scots, who understand this full well right now, have to live with a UK media portraying us as subsidy junkies whilst we watch our (obviously very popular) new government face resistance to its call to be allowed to live within its means, we’re going to struggle with that unfairness. Whether we are subsidised or not is a separate issue. If the UK government resists this, ends up bowing to pressure, finally grants us ffa, and we’re shown to have been paying our way all along, that tension is almost certainly going to become so great that the break up of the union will become inevitable.

    I really hope that this is something that will begin to be understood by you folks down south.

  40. @Lanarkshire Al

    I couldn’t agree more with your comments on the perception of Scotland from Westminster. I would add that this has probably worsened under the coalition because cameron et al have neither the incentive nor the inclination to understand how Scotland thinks.

    I would also point out that the obsession with Independence (mainly from the London-based media) also fails to reflect the real issues at play post election. The Scottish electorate is (as always) one step ahead. The SNP is about far more then just self-determination.

    And the nature and meaning of independence has now moved on significantly. We live in a global village as part of a wider European political bloc – ties to Westminster become less relevant. I would be surprised if we even see the word independence on the referendum paperwork.

    The SNP has the brightest and most motivated political brains in the country (and possibly in the UK). Anyone who followed Stephen Noon’s blogs will recognise that. AS will squeeze out concessions from the coalition in an effort to derail the referendum, but this will only push Scotland further towards being comfortable with Devolution Max.

    By the time of the referendum a few more powers transferred wrapped up in a positive vision will seem like nothing. Just don’t mention the I word.

    P.S Stuart Dickson (I think it was) sorry i didn’t pick up your tip on Shettleston – I thought it too far-fetched. I did however scoop about £500 on a clutch of other seats – including EK, Cathcart, Ed West and Cumbernauld.

  41. @Denzil

    The I word will be there, they are not scared of it in the slightest. The referendum will be a multi-option one, if independence is not achieved FFA will be. The step from FFA to independence is comparatively tiny. If the SNP have to work with FFA for 20 years before holding another referendum on independence, they’ll be quite happy, but rest assured, they’d rather do it in one step.

    If Cameron tries to deny the powers recently requested by Salmond, or FFA after such a referendum, a YES in a subsequent independence referendum would be a close to a sure thing as one could imagine. This is checkmate.

  42. “I was awaiting your scintillating analysis of why Scotland’s economic performance has been so weak in comparison with our comparators.

    I presume that you have also looked at Scotland’s GVA data. Even using the distortion of excluding the maritime sector, Scotland’s GVA exceeds that of every part of the UK outside the South East.

    It would be nice if one could easily access the real GVA data for Scotland but, as you know, the Ex Regio “region” was deliberately created to hide such figures.”

    Putting your self-contradiction asides, Scotland’s GVA has oft been stated, including by the SNP, as circa £140bn including the maritime sector.

    And, as you have undoubtedly forgotten again, Scotland’s full geographic share of North Sea oil revenues are returned to the Scottish Government. In the last set of annual accounts, the oil revenues totalled circa £12bn, 24% of all Scottish tax revenues and close to 35% of the Scottish Government’s total budget.

  43. Oops, obviously the above correction was directed towards Oldnat…

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