Wonder if Labour would change this back...
The most boring, and yet the most intriguing, result at the last election was the one in Scotland. Let me explain.
Boring because not a single seat changed hands.
Intriguing because not a single seat changed hands.
The SNP ran quite an ambitious campaign. They insisted they were on course for as many as 20 seats, and there were certainly at least a few within their reach. You couldn’t move during the campaign for Alex Salmond complaining about his exclusion from the debates. And, to be fair, the BBC, ITV and Sky more than made up for it, with fair few Scottish debates of their very own.
Meanwhile, the Lib Dems too were hoping to capitalise on Labour’s perceived weakness. After the stunning by-election win in Dunfermline and West Fife, and a number of easy targets in Edinburgh and beyond, the feeling was good that progress could be made.
The national opinion polls were putting Labour in the doldrums. But little did anyone, or at least anyone south of the border, realise that Scottish Labour voters had not gone anywhere. The national opinion polls hid the greatest variable of them all. Scotland.
The Tories improved on their miserable voting share, but remain with just a single MP. And that is very likely to be their high watermark. Meanwhile, the national Lib Dems, who these days look very English, failed to resonate north of the border, and the Scottish party remains in terminal decline.
The failure of the others to dent Labour expressed itself even further. In some seats, Labour’s vote share actually increased. Not bad for a party apparently at rock bottom after 13 years in power.
All this is very good news for them, especially with crucial Scottish parliamentary elections in May next year. At least, we think they’re in May. And with the SNP not looking quite so good as they used to, their perilous one seat lead over Labour looks in real jeopardy.
Even better, with Labour now out of power in Westminster, the Scottish Labour party can get a boost from the national party’s usual opposition bonus. The aggression of the outsider can be once more turned to their full advantage.
There is just one down side. Iain Gray, Scottish Labour’s leader. Not the best, shall we say.
But, at this stage in the game, I would strongly expect Labour to be the largest party in Holyrood after May 2011.
Then what? Coalitions?
No way. Lab-SNP, a massive joke. Lab-LD, tried in the past, could work again. Oh, but hang on, those pesky Lib Dems are now in coalition with the Tories at Westminster. Which is, naturally, toxic in Scotland. Labour would never touch that.
And even if Scottish Labour were crazy enough to offer, the Lib Dems would surely realise it would just look a little too opportunistic to be in bed with different partners in different parts of the country. Which happens anyway at local council level, but who cares about that!
So a Labour minority government will be in place. Oh well, at least that’s something new!