Wednesday, 4 February 2015

It's logic Jim, but not as we know it

Jim Murphy's reaction to Lord Ashcroft's constituency poll, released today, was as follows:
But in the end the only people who will benefit from these polls are David Cameron and the Tories.  It is a simple fact that the single biggest party gets to form the next government. The more seats the SNP get from Labour, the more likely it is the Tories who will be the biggest party and David Cameron will get into government through the back door. That would be a terrible outcome for Scotland but it's what might happen if Scotland votes SNP.
So it's our old friend 'Vote Labour to keep out the Tories' in essence.  Let's examine that claim a little.

The claim here is that the only way to keep the Tories from winning a majority is for Scotland's electorate to vote Labour.  No pressure then.  But wait.  We voted Labour in 2010 and what did we get?  A Tory government.  So I'd say there's a fair chance that if we vote Labour this time round then, given the current state of the polls on UK voting intentions, we'll get a Tory government again.  Logically then, voting Labour in Scotland guarantees nothing about which party will form the next government.  During the referendum it was comprehensively proved that the way Scotland votes very rarely affects the outcome of the UK General Election.  Generally speaking, the UK gets the government voted by the English electorate.  Not really surprising, since the English account for about 85% of the votes.

Given the above, we really have a choice between voting for a party that isn't really interested in Scotland so much as the UK (new tartan paint job notwithstanding)  or voting for one that will stand up for Scotland, the SNP.

Let's extend this further.  Suppose Labour gets the opportunity to negotiate a coalition (and getting more seats than the Tories but not enough to form a government doesn't guarantee this).  The SNP have already said that they would be prepared to enter a confidence and supply deal with Labour. but not the Tories.  So, if the electorate outside Scotland vote for Labour, and we vote for SNP, there's a reasonable chance that Scotland's voice will be heard at Westminster.  If we vote for Labour, there's a good chance that they won't be forming the next government, and Scotland's voice will not be heard.

The implication of this, then, is that we should vote for the party we think will best represent Scotland. That, for many people, is the SNP.

Jim Murphy's response is really that of a branch manager who's been given an overambitious sales target and who can see his bonus slipping away before his very eyes.  And managers who don't meet their sales targets tend to have a pretty short shelf life.

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