Saturday, 27 December 2014

Early bloodbath

The Guardian has just published the results of a poll carried out on their behalf by ICM which, according to their headline, shows that Labour will be in for a bloodbath in Scotland come the May general election.  The poll itself shows similar figures to other polls recently, such as the one carried out by Survation for the Daily Record.

The results are interesting, because they show that there is now a similar pattern of voting intentions between the UK general election and for the Scottish Parliament elections in 2016.  A nice Christmas present for the SNP.

Pleasant as it is, I think it would be a mistake for the SNP and other independence-supporting parties to coast on this.  The fact that Labour are so far behind in the polls means that Mr Murphy will be mustering his troops and will fight as hard as possible to prevent electoral humiliation in May.  He's well known for not backing down from a fight, and I'm sure he'll make maximum possible use of all his resources.

The other factor that will come into play is time.  At the moment the election is five months away, and people are happy to speculate on what they will do, for their decision is not imminent.  However, as we saw in the referendum, the status quo has considerable inertia.  I've heard of quite a few No voters who went into the voting booth prepared to vote Yes but who, when the moment came, couldn't overcome the inertia and voted for what they knew.  I think, come May, that will also be a factor.  When it comes to the point, many people will be unable to overcome the habit of a lifetime and will put their cross against the Labour party they (think they) know.

The SNP, Greens and SSP need to fight the election campaign as if the polls showed Labour in a commanding lead, a dead cert to win their usual number of seats.  They need to persuade the voters that voting for Labour is not the only way to do what's best for Scotland, by keeping the Tories out.  After all, Scotland voted Labour last time, and we still got the Tories.

Come the New Year there is a lot of hard work in prospect.  Let's get ready to rise to the challenge.

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