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Will it be English Tories that swings the IndyRef for the Yes Side?

November 29th, 2013

On the love that might finally dare to speak its name.

For those of us betting and/or wanting Scotland to vote for independence, bar one poll that was commissioned by the SNP, the general thrust of the recent polling hasn’t been favourable for us, so where will this surge in support for the Yes Side come from?

In recent weeks, there’s been a few senior Tories, from current cabinet minister, Eric Pickles, the last Tory Secretary of State of Scotland and the last Tory Prime Minister to win a majority, talking about “From a purely partisan political point of view, the Conservative party would be much better placed without Scotland because some where down the line we have mislaid our Scottish votes” 

Whilst I don’t doubt David Cameron’s desire to keep Scotland in the Union, some Tories (from Cabinet Ministers, MPs, donors and former MPs) may decide it is in their party’s interest for Scotland to vote yes next year, some may decide to intervene/be helpful in the campaign for the Yes side.

As things stand, there is a currently a net 58 non Conservative MPs at Westminster from Scotland. Of the most disappointing performances for the Tories in 2010, the fact there was a net swing from Con to Lab in Scotland in 2010 showed how far the Tories have to go in places where they used to do well in, 18 years earlier John Major won 12 seats in Scotland, which, was crucial to his majority of 21 seats.

The blunt truth of it is this, even on a very good night for the Conservative party in Scotland, the best they could hope for is maybe 2 to 4 seats, which would still leave a net non Conservative 50+ MPs from Scotland. In fact, given the Lib Dem collapse, particularly in Scotland, may end up costing the sole Tory MP in Scotland his seat in 2015.

The above graph, from the Telegraph, shows what Parliament would look like without Scottish MPs at the last General Election.

So how can The Tories help the Yes side? The most obvious and easy way, would be to keep on repeating the Scotland are subsidy junkies myth, and saying they want to be free of the Scottish burden, which will not go down well with Scottish voters.

If the Tories for Scottish Nationalism wanted to be a bit more cuter, they could say, we need Scotland and her oil revenues to remain in the Union, fund current and future conservative/coalition policies. The current coalition policies, which generally are less popular in Scotland than they are in the rest of the UK, over the summer it was said by Henry McLeish that Coalition policies could deliver Scots independence.

The other way The Tories can swing it, will be that, the Independence campaign proper won’t start until May 2014, after the European Elections. My expectation is that UKIP will outpoll the Tories. Were this to happen, there will be Tories, urging Dave to adopt more Eurosceptic and right-wing policies to win the support in 2015 of those who voted UKIP in 2014.

Henry McLeish also recently said

The Prime Minister’s “rich posh image” and “damaging” policies epitomise everything that Scots hate about the Conservatives

He said Mr Cameron is a “much scarier figure than Margaret Thatcher ever was” to Scots and could increase support for independence by as much as five percentage points is he fails to take a back seat in the coming year.

With David Cameron hinting/offering policies in the summer of 2014 that the Scots don’t like, that 5% could become a lot more, a politician with the adroitness of Alex Salmond will be able to ruthlessly exploit to his advantage.

If the European and local elections are particularly grim for the Tory Party, there may well be a Tory leadership election going on concurrently in the last three months of the referendum campaign. A collection of right-wing English Tories fighting for the Tory leadership, that may not be the ideal scenario for Better Together to win the referendum.

It should be remembered, before people engage in major constitutional changes, that things don’t always turn out the way they were envisaged, after all Scottish Devolution according to one of its architects, was meant to kill Scottish Nationalism, stone dead, but in less than ten months time, it maybe the Union that is killed stone dead.

The other prize for the English Tories for Scottish Nationalism, iff, Scotland does vote for Independence, there is a the possibility of disenfranchising Scottish voters from the 2015 General election, which is the only way I can see the Tories winning a majority in 2015. If Labour and or the Lib Dems object, I’m not sure how well that will play with English and Welsh voters (I’m not forgetting Northern Ireland, but there aren’t that many marginal seats there for the Lab/Con/Libs to fight over)

For those hoping or fearing perpetual Tory rule in post Independence United Kingdom, here’s what Parliament would have looked like in past elections without Scotland.

TSE