Scots lost the referendum but may soon be ruling England

The 2015 UK General Election is only about 6 weeks away and is turning out to be much more interesting – and entertaining – than I had anticipated. It was in September last year that independence for Scotland from the United Kingdom was rejected – in the event much more decisively than was generally expected – but not the overwhelming rejection that was first anticipated when the referendum was agreed to by the UK Parliament. (55.3% No against 44.7% Yes). The Scottish National Party (SNP) was the main driver for the referendum and for independence and their leader Alex Salmond had to step down as party leader with a bloody nose.

But now with the elections just weeks away, the Labour party has collapsed in Scotland (where the Conservatives are already almost extinct), UKIP has risen in England and the Liberal Democrats have become schizophrenic and irrelevant. The natural party for the Liberal Democrats to cooperate with in 2010 would have been Labour. But since that would not have given an overall majority, they went to bed instead with their natural and historic enemy  – the Conservatives. Which of course lies at the root of their current schizophrenia and the defection of their left wing to the Greens.

The most likely scenario now is that the Scots (via SNP) will effectively be ruling England after the election. Of course the SNP will not be the governing party but they may well be the determining voice in a minority Labour government. And since the SNP is generally further to the left of mainstream Labour, it will help to empower Labour’s more extreme members and may even help to bring in the support of some of the old communists. We could have an ironic – and highly entertaining – situation in the next Parliament. UKIP and the Conservatives could be desperately fighting for the devolution of England and a separate English parliament. Of course they would be no chance of any referendum on EU membership. The English (UKIP, Conservatives, Lib Dems) may have to plead (with SNP and Labour) for a referendum by 2020 for English devolution.

Of course there are many possible outcomes and 6 weeks is an eternity in an election campaign but the numbers provide the entertainment.

  1. Current Parliament (650 seats, 326 needed for majority)
  2. Conservatives 307, Liberal Democrats 57 (coalition 364)
  3. Labour 258, Irish DUP 8, SNP 6, others 14.

But a “very possible” result now is that the next parliament will be totally hung. The only working majority even remotely possible will be with the SNP and Labour together – though it may not be an absolute majority. Paradoxically, this could be a stronger mandate for the SNP both in Scotland and in the UK than any independence could have brought. For the Conservatives there is no redemption with the Lib Dems or with UKIP. They would have to gain seats in England compared to 2010 to prevent this or some similar scenario. And that does not look likely. Based on one forecast model, it could look like this:

UK 2015 possible

UK 2015 possible

So Alex Salmond leading a “Red” Ed Miliband even further left – and surely by the nose – is entirely possible. Scotland could effectively become a “one party democracy”. Perhaps Alex Salmond could emulate Lee Kwan Yew (though he does not quite have the same vision or intellectual stature)! Unlike Lee Kwan Yew, who never had a direct say in the Malaysian parliament, Salmond could extract his full pound (kilogram) of flesh in the UK Parliament. Labour would not be able to achieve any legislation, even if it was just for England, without the Scots.

Maybe the Scots will – of their goodness – eventually allow the English a devolution referendum.

(The hung parliament may well be “democracy in action” but it will also be a manifestation of “levelling down” to the lowest common level. And the lowest common level excludes any possibility of excellence).

Some interesting times ahead!


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