Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Is The SNP Backlash Coming?

If Salmond is aware of the history of politics, he will be aware that there comes a point when governments start to become unpopular, and a backlash forments.  Blair got to that point addressing the WI just before the fuel protests.  That point could be just about now with Council elections due next week and some wise sage’s suggesting that the SNP may fail to take their target of Glasgow City Council.

Not helpful at all to the SNP cause has been the news from the Levenson Enquiry, where an e-mail saying that “He (Salmond) will call Hunt when we need him too” has come into the public domain.  While this is a whole lot more damaging to Jeremy Hunt, who has been shown to be the cheerleader for Murdoch we all thought he was when he was given the task of deciding on the proposed take over of BSkyB (NB: The waiving through of the purchase of BSkyB was not the quid-pro quo for support for the Tories at the last Election – the scrapping of OFCOM and the tightening of the leash on the BBC was), this damages the Salmond stock at the worst possible time.  Just before the council election’s and just before campaigning proper begins on the referendum.

Yet the thing is, none of this can explain the lacklustre campaign so far.  Sure the usual election paraphernalia is out (above), but there is the sense of holding one’s breath for this election.  Which is a shame, because these elections could have been interesting before the introduction of some referendum shenanigans.

1 May 2003 Votes % Share Councillors
Lib Dem

It has already been discussed ad nausium that the SNP have a real chance of taking Glasgow City Council.  I suspect though that to maintain their momentum, they need to replace Labour as largest party (much more likely) and win control of places like Renfrewshire (less likely).  Renfrewshire Council has been a strange place for the past 9 years.  In both the 2003 and 2007 elections, the party that won the popular vote failed to take control of the council, Labour won an overall majority of 3 yet were 2.4% behind the SNP in the popular vote (above) in the elections of 2003.  Four years later (below), the SNP fell behind Labour in first preference votes but came out with the same amount of councillors as Labour, gaining the keys to Cotton Street by making a deal with the Lib Dems.

3 May 2007 Votes % Share Councillors
Lib Dem

In terms of what will happen next week, i think that it is telling that Renfrewshire is not on the list quoted in this piece that appeared in the Sunday Herald.  What is surprising however is the distinct lack of a campaign by Labour here in Paisley.  The SNP/Lib Dem administration here in Renfrewshire has not been a popular one – with cuts to school busses, closures to libraries and one very controversial school closure in sharp contrast to the inflation busting pay rise given to the heads of services nearly four years ago.  Maybe it’s inexperience, but they have been a crushing disappointment – though not as bad as the previous Labour administration.

Overall though, The Scottish Government have not nearly been as surefooted of late – probably since “Blanket-gate”.  Whatever is going on inside the SNP inner circle, I do sense that next Thursday won’t be as big a day for the SNP as the Scottish Elections was for them.  I suspect that they won’t make the huge gains they may be thinking that they will make, and that they may still find themselves behind Labour in Glasgow – though they might be in with a chance of running Glasgow as part of a coalition as Labour are not really “partnership material”.  However, the sense I get is that there may also be a backlash brewing for the Scottish Government.  Too much posturing over the referendum, and not enough concentrating on the bread and butter things. After all it’s not as if we are in the middle of a economic crisis or anything.

I could be wrong of course, and Salmond could continue his walking on water trick.  The problem is though that there are more and more questions about the direction of this Government, about policy on say renewable energy and the closeness of the First Minister to certain backers.  The honeymoon period isn’t over yet, but could be by next Friday teatime.


Stuart Winton said...

Those figures from 2003 are incredible.

Not so sure about next Friday being some sort of tipping point for the SNP though

People tend to be pretty tolerant of governments - short-term ups and downs withstanding - and the inevitable decline always seems more long-term and of a drip-drip nature.

Of course, the SNP will go out of favour eventually, it's just that it's managed to stay in favour for a bit longer than usual, in large part due to the state of the opposition in Scotland and the Westminster situation.

Of course, the SNP may well have abolished itself before it goes out of favour anyway ;0)

Allan said...

Hi Stuart. I don't think that next Friday will be the tipping point either. I do think that those drips are just starting though. Mind you, Salmond could mishandle the Murdoch thing, and we'd be at the tipping point sooner than we thought...

Stuart Winton said...

As usual it's perhaps more a question of whether the public are really bothered by the Murdoch thing.

I suspect they see Salmond cosying up to Murdoch, Souter and Trump et al and just say say 'so what, it's what they all do'.

And of course although things went sour with Trump, Salmond seems to have actually come out of it smelling of roses, and indeed it's helped deflect attention from the Murdoch angle.

Of course, that's not to say the drip-drip won't eventually tarnish Salmond and the SNP irrevocably, but as I said it's a long drawn out thing and I doubt if yesterday's stuff will act as any kind of tipping point unless there are other more serious related developments as yet undisclosed.

Barbarian of the North said...

Trump hasn't messed Salmond up because he's not exactly popular!

The tipping point won't be next week - it will be in about a year's time. Too much time seems spent on the Referendum, and I think people will get fed up.