You know there comes a point where the claim that this is the closest, most exciting election since… well whatever… grates somewhat. Not that it’s been dull, just the election equivalent of Italia ’90 where it’s safety first politics with nerves & drama making it an exciting spectacle, rather than any eye catching policy initiatives. Except for viewers in Scotland…
|Possibly the image of the campaign, Scotland's FM Nicola Sturgeon embraces the |
Green's Natalie Bennett & Plaid Cymru's Leanne Wood as Ed Miliband looks on
As a result of the polling not showing a clear advantage one way or the other, both Labour and the Conservatives have striven to run clinical, but sterile, campaigns focusing on their perceived strong points. Yet of the two leaders, Milliband’s reputation and standing is the only one to have increased as the campaign has gone on. He looked engaged, eager to debate with the public (on the television set pieces at least) and keen to answer questions. In contrast, Cameron has looked distant, patriarchal and at key moments shifty.
As predicted when Cameron refused to defend the union against Salmond during last years referendum, Cameron torpedoed any opportunity of a repeat of the series of leaders debates from 5 years ago. Even the debate he did take part in, he was overshadowed by every other participant in some way or other. One listen of the Radio 1 ‘hustings event’ shows why Cameron had to up his game. Instead he took a leaf from his election maestro’s book by attacking Labour for considering a coalition with the SNP, turning himself into the bigoted golf clubhouse bore in one easy step.
Indeed the irony seems to have bypassed every single member of England’s right wing press who attack Ed Miliband for… what… maybe not ruling out a coalition with the SNP with more vigour than torching his own branch office. No, the irony is that the biggest threat to the union is not the SNP, but David Cameron and his Conservative Party. It is they who have looked to turn Scottish voters into second class citizens through the ill though out EVEL. And that’s way before we mention Cameron’s cynical attempt to make Scots feel second class for voting for a separatist party, while courting the homophobic & deeply sectarian DUP.
If Cameron is intent in the break up of the union, perhaps Miliband should pause for reflection. It was his own unthinking support for Cameron that started the rot, but the straw certainly was the gleeful way members of his party demonised wavering ‘no’ voters and yes voters that were Labour voters. Labour’s acceptance of IDS veto of the devolution of benefits to Holyrood merely confirmed in the minds of now ex-Labour people that this was no longer ‘their’ party. This is why Labour are facing a disastrous night with the Scottish results. That and Nicola Sturgeon being the best leader Labour never had.
|Cameron with his jacket off - full pub car park fight mode!|
Labour’s mishandling of the referendum will have consequences for those in John Smith House. In the meantime though, there’s tomorrow to get through, however harrowing and awful it will be. And it will. This is where the drama has come from as the SNP have harnessed the power of ‘Yes Scotland’ – who lets not forget did an awful lot of canvassing on the ground during the referendum having the effect of politicizing the Scottish electorate. If, as seems highly likely to happen, Labour seats fall then this will be the blood price for a no vote last September.
So what will happen tomorrow? Most political pundits have steered clear of making predictions, saying that things are too close to call. I don’t think the SNP will take every Scottish seat, Labour will hold on to at least 3 or 4 seats. I also think the Lib Dems will hold on to 2 seats. I’ve said that there has been previous evidence of anti-SNP tactical voting and I think this will be seen again but will be limited. Nationally, Miliband looks more Prime Ministerial than he did on 30th March, but crucially he has not been able to break free of the polling deadlock and by all accounts the likelihood of those tartan terrors wrecking havoc in Whitehall has hindered Miliband’s campaign. Clearly the SNP strategists should have chosen the lovely Black Watch tartan for their advertising literature instead of the hideous red pattern. I still think UKIP will win at most 3 seats, but hope the Greens add to Caroline Lucas seat.
If the polling is correct, Labour will make gains in England (and possibly in Wales too). The big question will be whether those gains will be wiped out by losses in Scotland and by how much Labour can hold on to. How richly ironic it will be if Milliband becomes Prime Minister off the back of normally Conservative voters seduced by the hyperbole of SN Pout.