Almost as expected?

5

May 8, 2015 by AK

The SNP has won 56 out of the 59 seats in Scotland, a 95% success rate. Ninety-seven and a half years ago, Sinn Féin won 70 out of the 75 seats in the 26 counties that would make up the Irish Free State: 93%. The similarity probably ends here. The SNP does not have 60%+ of its new MPs languishing in English gaols, nor does it need to set up its own diet away from Westminster: it already has its own in Edinburgh. But this avalanche in Scotland will probably make the UK’s pullout from the EU impossible any time soon.

Overall, it’s one of those elections where it’s hard to sympathize on the basis of shared values with any of the parties (except, somewhat, with the doomed LibDems, namely their libertarian subset). The Tories used to have a Hayekian faction but it’s as good as dead now, losing its clout to moralistic paternalists (the anti-porn bills), anti-privacy totalitarians (Cameron’s encryption stance), and authoritarian nasties of the hanging-judge type (cutting legal aid and such). But what does the Conservative victory mean for the UK’s stance on Ukraine and Russia? Probably nothing. The City (writ large) will still be dependent on money of questionable origin, Russian or otherwise (although to what extent, I have no clue); politicians of all stripes will prattle on about Moscow’s “legitimate interests” in Ukraine; and the Kremlin will probably make advances at some of the new Scottish MPs.


5 comments »

  1. JCass says:

    The Scottish situation is peculiar because a lot of the new SNP voters are not Scottish nationalists, but it’s too late at night to try to explain why. Also, I’m almost as confused by this as they are.

    What will it mean for Ukraine?

    Cameron hasn’t exactly been at the forefront of the international stage recently. Maybe he was trying to ensure he didn’t get into anything problematic that might affect his re-election prospects and now he’ll be more dynamic. Who knows?

    “The City (writ large) will still be dependent on money of questionable origin, Russian or otherwise…”

    Sadly, this is likely to be true.

    One heartwarming moment was Putin fan George Galloway losing his seat in Bradford, although this means he’ll have more time to spend on his RT broadcasts now.

  2. JCass says:

    Some more scattered, not particularly well-informed thoughts:

    The SNP got 95% of the seats in Scotland but only 50% of the vote. Many of those votes were anti-austerity rather than pro-independence (the idea of another independence referendum was not something the SNP played up during their election campaign). The anti-austerity SNP voters were engaged in an inept tactical voting scheme to try to swing Labour further to the left. If there was a hung parliament, as the polls suggested, then Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP would have held the balance of power. She could have offered a coalition with Labour in return for major policy concessions. In fact, the prospect of such an SNP-Labour alliance probably ended up making many English voters turn out for the Conservatives.

    In retrospect, much of this election was already decided in 2010:

    Labour was doomed as soon as they chose Ed Milliband over his brother David. Unless they get it into their heads that their major appeal has to be to the centrist vote they will continue to make the same mistake and elect unelectable party leaders, cf. 1980s.

    The Lib Dems were doomed by their coalition with the Conservatives. As soon as they voted for higher tuition fees – going against their manifesto promises – they lost their student supporters.

    So, unless the economy tanked again, or there was some other major disaster, the odds were in Cameron’s favour. Cameron’s won, but he may face dissent from the right-wing of his party who will believe the election was a mandate for their views. It wasn’t really. I’d say Cameron was elected primarily because: (a) he was the most plausible leader out of a mediocre bunch; (b) the economy’s doing pretty well; (c) nobody really wanted a hung parliament with the prospect of another election later this year.

    Things nobody seems to have noticed: the almost complete implosion of the BNP: 560,000+ votes in 2010 and 1,667 in 2015 (!). The party imploded after a ruckus which led to the expulsion of its leader, Putin fan Nick Griffin.

    • AK says:

      Many thanks. This explains the SNP’s sweep for me. Also, thinking of terms of fixed blocks, the ConLibDem block actually lost seats in 2015 while the theoretically possible Labour-SNP coalition gained some on 2010. Labour actually improved on its 2010 performance in England and Wales but it did not matter because the Conservatives won the majority, partly (I imagine) thanks to ex-LibDem votes.

      I would guess that most of the BNP supporters have switched over to UKIP. Where else? Also, I see that Galloway is suing to have the election results in Bradford West overturned. Not sure how.

      • JCass says:

        Galloway’s completely delusional. He blamed his defeat by a Pakistani Muslim woman on Zionists and racists. I’d encourage Putin to pour more of his media budget down the drain funding this clown and the BNP’s ex-Fuehrer Nick Griffin. They have zero credibility in the UK.

        Yeah, I’d guess most of the BNP vote went to UKIP, which has a veneer of respectability. Very few people would openly admit to voting BNP. Farage is a canny political operator. His resignation as leader and almost instantaneous reinstatement was very amusing and totally predictable. They’d be lost without him.

        Scotland is more like Quebec than Ireland. The SNP are angling for “independence” without any of the downsides, like having to have your own currency and defence. Sturgeon is in a very good position as she can blame anything that goes wrong on the Tories in Westminster, over whom she has little traction. Had there been a coalition with Labour, the danger was that any unpopular decisions the alliance had to take might have rubbed off on her.

        The big theme now will be the referendum on EU membership Cameron has promised. He’ll want to get it out of the way as soon as possible as the uncertainty is damaging business confidence. At the moment, opinion polls favour staying in. From the point of view of Ukraine, the referendum is a bad thing. This and the Grexit threat will distract the EU from “foreign policy” for months and months. Putin will obviously try to stir things up and encourage a British exit but, as we have seen in the case of his friend Galloway, Russia Today has zero political influence here. Everyone except conspiracist fruitloops treats it as a comedy channel. Putin won’t find any support here from the SNP, which wants to stay in Europe. He could try UKIP, but they probably already have sufficient funding from semi-insane British millionaires.

        • JCass says:

          Before I forget, another point with possible relevance to Putin. The UK election showed that opinion polls cannot be trusted. As one tweeter commented, if there were so many “shy Tories” who wouldn’t reveal their voting preferences to pollsters in Britain, what does this mean for the accuracy of Putin’s popularity ratings in Russia?

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