The next General Election for the UK will be on 7th May 2015. In Scotland, we’re all looking at 18th September 2014, but for the Westminster parties, the general election campaigning has already begun.
At the 2010 general election, the results were Conservatives 307, Labour 258, Liberal Democrats 57: the LibDems dashed into a coalition with the Tories, and the hugely unpleasant mess that followed is still miring us up.
It’s fair to say that without the LibDem decision to join the Tory party and keep them in government (despite Tories not having won an election since 1992) – there likely would not have been a majority-SNP government in Holyrood: conceivably, if enough Scots had voted LibDem in 2011, there might not be an independence referendum this year.
You may think it’s a bit premature to dub Dunfermline “the last byelection” when there’s 11 months to go to the independence referendum and 73 MSPs on the wall. (Yes, there are 129 MSPs, but when a Regional MSP falls off the wall, he, she, or it is replaced by the next-senior name on the party list.)
Every time there is a Scottish byelection between now and next September, there will be the same drama. Only more so. And every time, the byelection will be dubbed “the last“, and deep significance found in the results.
The results were:
For about fifty years, until Nick Clegg agreed to a coalition with the Conservatives, probably most people would have agreed that LibDems or Liberals, the third party in UK politics, were “for” providing an alternative to Labour or the Conservatives: a party basically on the left in politics, but edging towards the centre. Sometimes letting Tories be elected on a minority of the vote, since left-wing voters split between Labour or the LibDems.
Since May 2010, Liberal Democrats have voted to support massive cuts to funding for public services, terrifying attacks on support for the poorest and most vulnerable in our society, in favour of retroactive legislation on money due for unlawful workfare sanctions, and of course the privatisation of the NHS, and now are expected to vote for selling off the Post Office.
Support for the Liberal Democrats has crashed. To win back even half their seats in 2015, the LibDems will have to treat every maybe-winnable constituency as a by-election like Eastleigh – will have to recruit massive numbers of volunteers while their party is losing memberships. The current prediction is 23 LibDem MPs in Parliament after May 2015, while Labour should have a majority of over 100.
Chris Huhne in the Guardian yesterday:
First, none of this would have been possible without my own mistakes. I am no saint (but nor did I claim to be).
Chris Huhne was one of the Tory/LibDem Cabinet’s millionaires. He was Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change: he is now European manager of Zilkha Biomass Energy, a transition from government minister to employee in the same field that is now so familiar its corruption wouldn’t make the headlines – except that Huhne spent some time in between in court and in jail.
Besides his wealth from his pre-Parliament career as a City of London economist, Huhne owned seven houses: the one he officially lived in, in London: his official second home, in Eastleigh: and five more rental properties.
As revealed in the MP expenses scandal in 2009:
He owns his second home in his Eastleigh constituency in Hampshire outright but regularly claims for its renovation. In August 2006 he was reimbursed for a £5,066 builder’s invoice that included having two coats of “red rustic timber care” applied to garden items, and two coats of green preservative for fences. On another occasion Mr Huhne submitted a handyman’s bill for £77.31, covering odd jobs such as “replacing rope on swinging chair”. Continue reading
A charity is allowed to engage in politics. A charity is not allowed to do party-political campaigning.
The distinction is made clearest whenever there’s an election. If a charity wants to comment on any one party’s manifesto, they have to comment on them all. They may possibly just get away with only commenting on the five major parties – the ones with seats in Parliament – but they cannot pick and choose.
The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations is a registered charity. Their mission is “To support people to take voluntary action to help themselves and others, and to bring about social change.” Continue reading
Brian Monteith wrote just before five o’clock today:
we may at last be seeing the beginning of a much needed realignment of Scottish politics.
But in one huge respect, Scottish politics is still aligned exactly the way it was before the elections.
From 2008-2012, Edinburgh Council had 15 women councillors out of 58. (Elizabeth Maginnis, elected to Forth Ward for Labour in 2007, died in 2008, and the seat was held for Labour by a man.) From 2012-2017, unless by-elections change this, there will be 15 women out of 58.
On Thursday 3rd May, Edinburgh goes to the polls to elect a new council for the first time since 2007.
In 2007 we had the guddle of the ballots, and in the five years since the last set of councillors took office, we’ve had an economic crash, LibDems propping up a Tory government, the tenement statutory repairs scam come to light, a serious effort by the Tory, LibDem, and SNP groups on Edinburgh council to privatise our city parks and services (foiled when the SNP group switched sides to vote with Labour and the Greens), and of course… the trams.
Normally you can look at the previous elections and have a fair idea how things are going to go this time. But no one should take the 2007 election results as a guide. All we can be really sure of is that this time as last time, most of the councillors on 4th May will be men.
Filed under Elections, Women
And two hours later, after I had bought a latte and a croissant at Relish:
As an atheist, I suppose I ought to have made this post on the vernal equinox. But who’s thinking about chocolate eggs then?
Since May 2010, there have been six by-elections, and every one of them a hold for Labour until last night.
- George Galloway (Respect) 18,341 (55.89%, +52.83%)
- Imran Hussain (Labour) 8,201 (24.99%, -20.36%)
- Jackie Whiteley (Conservative) 2,746 (8.37%, -22.78%)
- Jeanette Sunderland (Liberal Democrat) 1,505 (4.59%, -7.08%)
- Sonja McNally (UKIP) 1,085 (3.31%, +1.31%)
- Dawud Islam (Green) 481 (1.47%, -0.85%)
Eoin Clarke very nicely shows that the biggest slide towards George Galloway was among Tory voters. (Update: And more realistically, Matthew Butcher notes that Galloway’s victory should be a wake-up call to the left – GG campaigned on an anti-austerity platform in a constituency where a Labour council had implemented ConDem cuts.)
But the 2010 election results for Bradford West had Labour winning with a margin over 14 percentage higher than the Tories: 2.9% of formerly-Tory voters were voting Labour: Bradford West was a safe seat, in ordinary UK Parliamentary understanding.