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Posts Tagged ‘Alex Salmond’

Labour Party may be ahead in the polls but it has one fundamental weakness in this campaign – it is fighting on so many different fronts simultaneously. Bizarrely Ed Miliband has demanded that he gatecrash tonights BBC’s ‘Challengers Debate’ in a move that can only damagingly expose the tensions at the heart of his Labour Party.

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In the closest General Election campaign in living memory, Scotland moves from being a traditional backwater of British politics looks set to be the most uncertain battlefield of all. Before moving on to the individual seats to look at it is important to underline how uncertain the final result in Scotland is likely to be. In its latest Nowcast, YouGov has fully three fifths of Scotland’s seats in the too close to call category. So without too much further adieu these are my seven seats to watch although please note that none of them are in Glasgow because the SNP will rule them all.

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You’ve read the polls. You disbelieved them. You’ve read more polls. You’ve disbelieved them too. But the devil doesn’t need to knock thrice, you know that the bogeyman is coming, that the SNP will most likely be the third largest party in the next parliament.

It’s worth restating that short of Nicola Sturgeon being caught in bed with a live or dead Alex Salmond that there is nothing to stop something that as recently as February seemed impossible. Yes it seems incredible that the Scottish National Party will win the 55 seats that is projected by the YouGov Nowcast but even if Labour somehow clings on to double the number of seats that the pollster thinks may be saved from the nationalist surge by Unionist tactical voter that would still put the SNP on 37. And if you could find someone who would bet on the Liberal Democrats getting more than 36 seats in the next parliament then I have a used car I would like to sell them, and I don’t even drive.

So short of a historic botch on the Sturgeon’s part or a miraculous recovery for Clegg the SNP will assume our feathered friends’ role as third wheel of the parliamentary bicycle. It’s the aspect of the SNP surge that has been least observed – just what exactly happens the day after tomorrow.

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Much has been written about the backlash to David Cameron’s remarkably ill-advised intervention in the simmering debate about the precise nature of the referendum on Scottish Independence. Many have like Simon commented on the strange complacency that is present in the Unionist camp.  What has been less noticed is the remarkable amount of conservatism  in the debate. In what is a fundamentally a debate about constitutional reform, there was little consideration about ways that the Union could be renewed through constitutional reform. This could be best seen in the demented denunciation of “Devo Max” by Unionists due to the belief that its just a ruse adopted by an Alex Salmond in need of a consolation prize should the Scots (as is probable) reject independence.

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On the face of it the referendum on Scottish independence should be one of the least terrifying prospects in modern British politics. Granted there are huge risks for those of us who believe in continued political union between the four historic nations, an in-out referendum would lead to the end of the UK or the SNP. But at the moment the signs point to a rejection of independence.   Firstly all the polling data shows a clear majority in favour of the status quo.  Furthermore people are usually inherently conservative when it comes to referenda, as it gets closer to polling day more people adhere to Belloc’s aphorism of clinging to nurse for fear of something worse – as seen in rejections of an Australian republic, Spain’s membership of NATO and AV in British general elections. This sense is only heightened by the economic wastelands that are other small Northwest European nations, Iceland and Ireland, and the fear of what RBS could have done to Scottish balance sheets. Despite these manifest reasons for optimism the current political landscape has the seed of the union’s destruction and all of these have complacency at their roots.

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While it is amusing, if slightly ridiculous, to observe the craze that still surrounds the British Monarchy in England, I find the implications of the current constitutional settlement mind boggling. The Queen in Parliament as the font of all laws, the government doesn’t serve me ‘the citizen’ instead her Britannic Majesty, not to mention the virtually unregulated powers that are exercised by her Ministers, in her name. Ridiculous.

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