Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Leaders and referendums

It would appear that Jim Murphy is the leading candidate for the new leader of Labour in Scotland, at least as far as the MP/MSP/MEP block is concerned in the collegiate system favoured by the Scottish branch, having gained the support of 43 of the members of this voting block.  Kezia Dugdale is the favoured candidate for deputy, with an even bigger number of endorsements.

Labour in Scotland uses the electoral college system of voting for the leader and deputy.  In this case there are three voting blocks: the MPs/MSPs and MEPs, the trades unions and the rank and file members of the party.  However, not all voting blocks are equal, with the vote of one of the various MPs counting for more than a vote from the trades unions or the rank and file members.  There is an explanation here of how it works, albeit it's from the previous leadership election for the UK party.
The procedures have been reviewed and are due to change, but have not yet done so.

If Mr Murphy wins, then there is the question of whether he contests his current seat as an MP in 2015 or stands down and waits until 2016 to stand as an MSP.  Current thinking seems to be that he would stand down as an MP and stand for election as an MSP in 2016.  Given the current state of the polls for 2016 this could be quite risky, given Labour's current low standing, and may result in Mr Murphy's ambition to be First Minister falling at the first hurdle.  However, there is a long time between now and 2016, so things could change quite a lot.

Meantime in Wales, their First Minister, Carwyn Jones, has expressed support for Nicola Sturgeon's policy of adding an amendment to any legislation for an EU in/out referendum to state that a majority must return a vote to leave in each of the four home nations before a BREXIT could be triggered.  This was dismissed by David Cameron previously, when he stated at Prime Minister's Questions that the result should be predicated on a simple majority.  It will be interesting to see any comments from Northern Irish politicians on the subject. 

If the result of the EU in/out referendum was to leave, but with only England having a majority in favour, this could well trigger another referendum on Scottish Independence.  In that case, I think the Unionists could well have a real fight on their hands to retain Scotland in the UK.  Indeed, the effect could well be for England to leave the UK, leaving the celtic nations in the remaining union.  Interesting times indeed!


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