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08 May 2015


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I do not expect the SNP to push for devolution in this parliament, that debate is settled for the moment. I very much doubt fear of the SNP had any significant impact south of the boarder as the SNP have no candidates - if they had I would have voted for them despite being English. They would have been preferable to anything I was being offed.


"Which Scottish constituencies did the SNP not win?"


Orkney, Shetland - Liberal Democrat

Edinburgh South - Labour

Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale, Tweeddale - Conservative

Abu Sinan

I agree with you, but the SNP landslide in seats didnt translate into a large percentage of over all Scottish votes which would be required in any new referendum. The were able to garner 50% of the vote. I think this will slowly change as it becomes more and more clear that all of the promises made to Scots during the drive up to the referendum were lies. The situation will get worse for Scots.

the Unready

The Conservatives may well have motivated their own support base by fear of a Labour/SNP pact - they clearly made much of the issue. Whether or not they swung additional undecided or Labour votes their way is moot.

The SNP made clear overtures to Labour during the campaign and Labour clearly rebuffed them. This seemed like quite a sensitive issue for Labour - they didn't want to be associated with the SNP even when it was obvious that they would need some sort of deal.

David Habakkuk

Colonel Lang,

'It was suggested today that part of the large English Conservative vote in the north was intended to keep the SNP out of a ruling Westminster coalition. Does anyone accept that idea?'

Obvious common sense, I would be inclined to say.

Up to very recently, what was striking about the polls was the extraordinarily high proportion of undecideds. Polls shortly before the election were suggesting that 40% of voters had not made up their minds.

(See, for example http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3061497/40-voters-t-decide-week-Mail-poll-reveals-10million-voters-grabs.html .)

My wife, whose 'nose' for what English people think but do not necessarily say is rather good, always suspected that quite a few people might be contemplating voting Tory and not want to tell pollsters.

Over the last few days, however, both she and I thought that, in essence, Nicola Sturgeon was hanging Ed Miliband out to dry, and pushing the 'undecideds' to vote Tory. So the exit poll last night – which turned out to be almost precisely accurate – came as no surprise.

There has long been a good deal of resentment in England at the fact that the Scots have their own parliament, which controls large elements of domestic policy, but they also elect MPs who can come down and vote on the same matters in England – as well as at the fact that levels of public spending are significantly higher in Scotland than in England.

As the polls were suggesting that the nationalists were likely to triumph throughout Scotland, and also that the Liberal Democrats were liable to be marginalised, as long as the parties were neck-and-neck the Tories could argue that a vote for Labour would imply that the SNP would be able to dictate how matters were run in England.

There was no answer which Miliband could give to the question of how he would handle relations with the SNP in the event that his prospects of power depended on their support which could effectively counter a piece of Tory propaganda which had the great virtue of being extremely plausible.

Meanwhile, Sturgeon's triumphalism was quite clearly raising hackles. You had people in London saying things like – you'll have a million and a half of these bloody Scots coming down here and telling us how to run our country.


David Habakkuk

Why did Orkney and Shetland go Libdem and the S. Edinburgh seat whatever it did? pl


What are the advantages to the Scots if they break away?


Stroll away would probably be a better description. There are seldom economic advantages in making small countries out of big countries. What was the "advantage" for the Balkan countries in breaking up Yugoslavia? What would be the advantage for Quebec in leaving Canada but they cam close. What was the advantage for the Filipinos in leaving their association with the US? For that matter what was the enduring interest for the American colonies to leave Britain? If they had not they would have ruled the world eventually with the king as their sovereign. pl

Babak Makkinejad

There is no enduring interest; just that when a new government is established, all kinds of posts and sinecures would become available.

Just look at that US corporal, Moshe Arens.


Col: As Tom Paine said, it is unnatural for an island to rule a continent. Even without a War of Independence, Washington would still be the capitol of Anglophonia.

different clue

David Habakkuk,

Is the Labor Party under Milliband still the "neo-liberal" New Labor which the Blairites worked to turn it into? If so, is it considered not tradiditional-labor enough and pro-working class enough for the taste of many Scots? Are many Scots afraid that with the Conservatives and the New Labor both committed to neo-liberalizing all of Britain ( and possibly Yeltsinizing it after that?), do these Scots think that independence is the only way to preserve what is still left of the social-welfare oriented Traditional Labor legacy? Might the drive to independence be seen as a desperate social-survival move as well as an assertion of ethnic pride?

Jock McTavish

Edinburgh South is a real puzzler. The seat contains the uber bourgeois suburbs of Colinton (home of the man who bankrupted RBS in Laverockdale Park) , Farmilehead and Morningside (home of the educated Edinburgh accent). However it also contains Westerhailes from which the MP also comes from. Westerhailes is a run down heroin riddled public housing project. The underclass do not tend to involve themselves in elections so its surprising how Labour won. On the Scottish mainland I would have expected Labour to hold onto the East end of Glasgow which makes Westhailes look like Beverley Hills.

FB Ali

Well, that island ruled a very large part of the globe once!


How much oil/gas is there left in the Scottish North Sea


You are probably right about Cameron...and definitely about the nature of NATO today. Its mission has changed in reality.


Col. Lang

Orkney and Shetland have been stout Liberal Democrats from 1950 and onwards. They must feel strongly about the LD's overall values.

As for Edinburgh South it was a Tory seat until Margaret Thatcher when the locals turned either to a Labour or LD candidate after being displeased with Tory policies for Scotland.

However tactical voting is a part of the British system. I would guess that quite a few Tory voters could have supported the Labour candidate in order to keep the seat out of SNP hands. With Labour being the lesser "evil" compared to SNP



Couple of things...

1) Prince Turki was not at the re-union, although there were other notables, just not the former foreign minister....
2) a family member actually was in charge of a precinct here, and I have spent the last week here as well, and I can report that up until Election Day itself it was reported in a very different manner than the final results...
3) I spent much of the time there with the individual whose business partner in Iran was the man who turned the pro-Mossadegh crowd into the pro-Shah crowd in 1953 and to then actually take him into custody for his own protection.... Many years later, this same individual was thee person who gave the Canadian passports to the Americans who has managed to avoid capture at the U.S. Embassy in the winter of 1980.....Argo is a true story but the movie version contains a lot of unattributed or more precisely misattributed actions, including but not limited to the source of the passports...


Both, NG and oil, are rapidly declining and I would be surprised when they are still an important factor in 20 years.

Personally, I would not base my decision on them.

David Habakkuk

Colonel Lang,

Orkney and Shetland are a quite different world from the 'central belt' of Scotland, with a distinct history. Certainly London is alien to it, to it seems that to a substantial part of the population, Edinburgh is equally so.

As to how the LibDems fit into this, a report in the 'Herald' – a famous Glasgow paper – from March 2013 is headlined: 'Former LibDem leader: 'It's Shetland's oil, Alex …'

It opens:

'The former leader of the Scottish LibDems has called for Orkney and Shetland to break away from Scotland and govern themselves like the Channel Isles or the Isle of Man.

'Shetland MSP Tavish Scott told the LibDem conference in Dundee yesterday he wanted "island home rule" for the Northern Isles, funded by their huge oil and gas reserves.'

(See http://www.heraldscotland.com/politics/political-news/former-libdem-leader-its-shetlands-oil-alex.20523802 .

The Isle of Man, together with the Isle of Man and the bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey, are self-governing under the British Crown, with their own currencies and low taxes, and not part of the UK or the EU. It is a status which some in Shetland and Orkney clearly think might suit them.

Delegates at the 2013 conference later unanimously passed a motion calling on the Scottish Government to "accept that Shetland and Orkney should have a separate right to self-determination, to secure the best future for themselves, whatever the constitutional future of Scotland".

William R. Cumming

LOOKING BACK THE END OF THIS CENTURY! Perhaps specious not prescient here are my thoughts on Scotland. Disclosure: CUMMING IS A SCOTTISH NAME DERVING FROM THE NORMAN COMEYN. Also my most pure ethnicity is Welsh as my father's mother had two Welsh American parents.

The evolutions of political parties in the UK and USA are quite complex and often below the immediate horizon. MY THESIS FORST POSTULATED IN SUMMER 1992 WAS THAT WHOMEVER WON THE US PRESIDENCY IN THE FALL WOULD START THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THEIR PARTY. Also the Clinton winwas premised on the PEROT CANDIDACY. NO PEROT NO CLINTON.

SO WHAT HAS THIS TO DO WITH SCOTLAND? First look back to the SEVEN YEARS WAR--French and Indian in N.America that determined who would have the best shot at controlling the resources and people of what is now the USA and Canada. Many modern historians estimate that only one out of five or less supported the American Revolution. How could the British monarch have won the Revolution? By transplanting to Philadelphia or New York the seat of government. Edmund Burke among many others argued against the use of force in the American Revolution. THE SINGLE GREATEST STRATEGIC FAILURE IN BRITISH HISTORY WAS THIS FAILURE TO MOVE THE SEAT OF GOVERNMENT.


Thus, England and perhaps Wales and N. Ireland will seek American statehood and get it because together with some Canadian provinces an effort to balance the admission of several Spanish speaking states will be the final hurrah in answer to Dr. Samuel Huntington's [PhD} question: Exactly what kind of country do Americans want?

Many will want to maintain the dominance of English speaking Americans and this will be the simplest way.

Could be wrong as always.

Bryn P

Your wife's nose is very accurate, David, the polls have consistently underestimated the Conservative vote in almost all the rcent elections. Why this should be, I do not know. Maybe Conservatives are more reticent, maybe the almost universal support that the Party enjoys from the MSM means that it is a deliberate tactic to encourage its core voters to come out and vote. Probably the simplest explanation is that the generally older and wealthier Tory is just more likely to get off his butt and register his vote than his opponents on the other side.

As for the SNP it definitely offers an agenda which John McCain would describe as "red", though I personally would have welcomed an opportunity here in England to support a candidate who would drop Trident and leave Nato.

Are the readers here in any way bemused by the total lack of democracy demonstrated by the British General Election? Does the fact that one party with approximately a third of the votes gains almost 330 times the number of seats as another on 14.5% of the votes cast not seem an oddity? The only benefit that I can see in our system is that at least we have an opportunity to get rid of our discredited politicians rather than be stuck with them under PR. On the other hand Cameron and his merry men will now claim that with just the support of 25% of the total electorate they have a mandate to continue and enhance their neocon agenda.

David Habakkuk

different clue,

In part that is right. However, the story is complex. It was in part the reversion of the Labour Party to 'Traditional Labour' ideas in the Seventies, at a time when some fundamental problems of 'statist' solutions were becoming apparent to people throughout the world, that paved the way for the triumph of Thatcherite 'market fundamentalism'.

After successive electoral defeats erstwhile leftists like Blair and his wife experienced a kind of 'Pauline conversion' to neo-liberalism. So we ended, as it were, jumping out of the socialist frying pan into the market fundamentalist fire.

My own view tends to be rather along the lines of 'a plague on both your houses'. In particular, I think that trying to make sense of current political issues, and alignments, in terms of traditional left/right divisions often obscures what is actually at issue.

In relation to Ed Miliband, in fact he was commonly attacked, not least among the committed Blairites in his own party, for taking the party back to 'Old Labour' values.

A crucial question relating to the Scots desire to preserve 'Old Labour' values is going to be whether they can fund them.

One of the best of British economists – unlike so many of his colleagues, a man not blinkered by absurd theory – is a Scot living in England, John Kay. Before last year's referendum, he gave a lecture arguing, to put it in crude language, that both the claims of nationalists that independence would produce an economic bonanza, and the claims of their opponents that it would produce catastrophe, were bullshit.

(See http://www.typepad.com/site/blogs/6a00d8341c72e153ef00d83451d3f569e2/comments?filter.pending=1 .)

It was not however I think simply the fact that Miliband's Labour Party was still too 'New Labour' that caused Scots voters to desert it in droves. Ironically, another article by John Kay, written shortly before the election, illustrates the delusions under which they, and much of the opposition to the Tories, were labouring:

'The electoral arithmetic suggests that the opposition Labour party cannot obtain an overall majority without SNP support but might obtain one with. While a formal coalition is all but impossible, an understanding is feasible; the leftist MPs of the SNP will never vote to keep the Conservative Mr Cameron in power. So potential Labour voters in Scotland are offered the chance to elect a Labour government for the UK that is obliged to give special attention to Scotland. What is there for them not to like about that outcome?'

(See http://www.johnkay.com/2015/04/29/the-bumpy-road-ahead-will-most-likely-lead-to-scottish-independence .)

But for many in England, there was an awful lot 'not to like.' Suppose you have one of the 'undecideds' here who is not terribly happy with the Tory Party, but also not very convinced by Ed Miliband.

You probably resent the fact that the Scots have their own parliament deciding their domestic affairs, but their Westminster MPs have a vote on the same issues in England. Equally, you almost certainly think that Scots already get too favourable a financial deal. In normal circumstances, however, you do not think about these things, and they would certainly be irrelevant to how you vote in a general election.

However, you are now confronted with a scenario of around one a half million Scots influencing – perhaps decisively – how England should be governed – which includes making policy on issues like education and health, which the Scottish Parliament decides for Scotland.

Even if a formal coalition is impossible, Professor Kay himself is telling you that Miliband will be 'obliged to pay special attention to Scotland.' At that point, it is not just Cameron's natural base who can be expected to say: yet more money for this nation of welfare scroungers?

And you have Nicola Sturgeon crowing in a triumphalist way about these prospects: her manner did a great deal to put the backs up of people here.

As a result, the Scots have not simply guaranteed us and – probably – themselves another five years of Tory government – which one may or may not think the least worst option in the circumstances. More seriously, the possibility of any viable alternative emerging in the foreseeable future is now profoundly in question. To say that is unhealthy is to put it mildly.


I would have as well.


David Habakkuk,

Certainly Miliband seems to believe that he was done in by the forces of nationalism, but from what I gather economic issues drove the Scottish vote this time around at least as much as nationalist ones, if not more so. Sturgeon talked social democracy, not independence, and Labour as the slightly-nicer austerity party had little to counter with. Yes, threading the needle regarding any potential alliance with the SNP was always going to be a tough one, but Miliband appears to have handled a difficult problem badly, trying to box in Scottish voters with some nasty anti-SNP rhetoric and by refusing outright to have anything to do with the SNP, and then getting tarred with the "He's going to give the SNP everything they want at our expense" brush anyway. Instead, he was the one who got boxed in -- right where the Tories wanted him. Not well played.


I think the English, Welsh and NI would probably vote to become a French Province - or direct rule from Brussels - before they opted for US citizenship.
I could also be wrong...

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