So the Brexit centipede’s final shoe has dropped and we are to endure the first General Election at Christmas for a century. Broadcast media are already hoaching with rentqaquotes from every party, burbling over their keenness to come to grips with their opponents and thereby win punters’ heats and minds.
Leave aside that those punters’ hearts are likely to be focused on whether to buy a Disney Rapunzel Vanity or and iPhone for their niece and their minds have, over the last three years, been gradually fortified against the predations of MPs who appear on TV with unavoidable frequency to eloquently rubbish one another, yet who cannot assemble agreement on the most important question facing Britain this century, despite pulling down £6,334 for each of the 41 months they have failed to do so. When their campaign gets underway in the dreich depths of winter, they may be warmed by the roasting they can expect on many doorsteps.
For, while media still conspire with politicians for these three years to pretend that various spokespersons speak with the honesty and clarity of Winston Churchill or Clement Atlee. Too many transparently self-serving statements have been made by small men (less often women) with small ambitions for this election to be seen by many as little more than a bun fight among political pygmies. To be sure, a voter with strong leave/remain views has some clear choices and will exercise them. But the indifferent and the tired-of-all-of-it may body-swerve the polls altogether.
Add in likely weather on December 12th and the turnout is likely to be low. This may reward Boris for sticking his neck out by suppressing Labour votes and pushing marginals into the Tory camp. This effect will be compounded by two additional factors: 1) Labour has a bigger civil war raging between the leftie Corbynistas and the centrist Blairits; 2) Corbyn himself is seen as un-electable as PM by anyone outside Labour..
But this does not mean a romp for Boris and his Tories. They will do well in the Home Counties and various shires. Nigel’s Brexit party are a spent force and won’t win seats. But their 10-15% will be enough to upset the Tory apple cart in leafy suburbs and the West Country where the Lib-Dems have strength and can milk their Remain credentials. The Independent Group will be casualties, as will some very capable Tories like Ken Clark, Philip Hammond, Justine Greening, Rory Stewart and Dominic Raab, through the spite of BoJo and his Chief of Staff, Dominic Cummings.
The net result in England and Wales is likely to be a moderate Tory majority and a surge in Lib-Dems back to their pre-2015 strength.
But in Scotland, expect the story to be rather different. As late as 2006, Scotland was a Labour fiefdom, with other parties consigned to holding the odd seat and the Tories in limbo since their 1997 wipe-out debacle. Then the SNP shattered Labour hegemony in 2007, 2012 and 2015. Since Scots voted 63% Remain and the SNP has led a vocal resistance against being bounced out of the EU by English Eurosceptics, there is every chance of the Tories losing some of their hard-won seats and be left with a handful, mainly in the Northeast—especially since their doughty and effective leader Ruth Davidson has stepped down..
Labour, despite a revival in 2017, is a shadow of its former self, now that its power base and patronage system has been shattered. Although left-leaning, Scottish Labour is mostly at odds with Corbyn and will suffer the worst of both worlds. They will hold on to some seats where the MP is popular and effective, such as Ian Murray in Edinburgh South. But they will drop to single digits.
The Lib-Dems, though bouyed North of the Border by being europhile and a kindlier alternative to Tories, will also be squeezed—Orkney & Shetland will remain safe but even their leader Jo Swinson will need to look to her laurels not to get he jotters in Dumbartonshire East.
Irrespective of hat happens down South, in Scotland, the SNP will win big—not as big as their 56-seat landslide in 2015, but certainly getting halfway there from their present 36.But they could do better. If their leadership abandons its present timorous approach to leading the Scots to something better than a chattel of English jingoism and lay down some visionary policies, backed by plausible research, such as Andrew Wilson’s Sustainable Growth Commission report from 2018, they might do better.
Were they to articulate how wealthy Norway is from the same amount of oil as Scotland’s, how Netherlands is influential in the EU beyond its size and (especially) how Ireland not only recovered faster and better from the 2008 crash than the UK nut now boast a per capita GDP 40% higher than the UK, they might really set the heather alight.
Then not only would Indyref2 be a given but its outcome more likely to differ fro the first. Only then might the 438 Tory and Labour Unionist MPs when finally played nice and voted for a Dec 12th election realise that they were turkeys voting for an early Christmas and for the demise of the United Kingdom.