Two new political scenarios emerge simultaneously and remain largely ignored. In the first, according to Survation the SNP is on course for a landslide in next year’s Holyrood 2016 elections with the party now more popular than it was in May’s General Election. The poll shows the Conservatives up (yes, up) to 14%, and the Lib Dems at 7%. If this poll was born out it would see the SNP on 71 Holyrood seats, with Labour holding on to just 24 of its current 37 seats, and the Scottish Green party taking 12 seats from an 11% regional vote. This would be a seismic victory for the Greens – their best ever, and largely at the expense of Scottish Labour – whose bad times don’t seem to have not bottomed out yet. The poll suggests as many as one in eight of those who voted Labour in May now say they might vote for the SNP in 2016.
In the second scenario, according to the New Statesman, Jeremy Corbyn could be on course to win leadership of the Labour Party. They write: “If vote share and constituency nominations mirrored each other, Burnham would be ahead of the pack with 39 per cent, Corbyn would be second with 33 per cent, Cooper third with 25 per cent, and Kendall fourth with four per cent. However, it appears that Labour’s preferential voting system – used both for the final contest and to nominate by local parties – is masking Corbyn’s strength in the first round. One survey has Corbyn ahead by more than 15 points. Another puts him in what one campaign staffer called “a commanding position…he is on course to win”.”
If both these were to come to pass you would have an emboldened Scottish Green Party in its strongest position ever, with a host of brand-new radical, articulate MSPs, and a depleted wounded Scottish Labour Party with an unlikely and uncertain relationship with its new UK leader. I have no idea what Corbyn’s views are on the constitutional question, but it would be both a blessing and a curse for Scottish Labour who have tacked to the right for several years now. Could they be rejuvenated by being able to breathe easier, drop their support for Trident and repudiate all that Jim Murphy & John McTernan stuff and Johann’s dire ‘no such thing as something for nothing’ material?
It’s an interesting projection. How would the Scottish parliament look with a left of centre Labour and a hugely emboldened Scottish Green Party? It would mean a decisive left of centre Scotland, which would offer challenges to the SNP’s own right-wing, and would likely mean a more coherent, credible and critical opposition than wee Wullie Rennie and friends managed in the last parliament.
As the big picture issues of EVEL, the Grexit, the future of the EU institutions play out, lots of questions remain. Can we stop the election of Scotland’s first UKIP MSP? Could Kezia live with a Jeremy leadership? Could the SNP cope with a real critique of its environment policies? And where would the Scottish Left project’s new party find room here? With a grassroots movement lining up against INEOS, against nuclear and Trident there’s the potential for some big challenges to consensus politics which could prove a welcome challenge to the continuity Yes movement. Unlikely alliances aren’t just for Westminster. A massive cross-party alliance against Trident, fracking and for, say, new housing could push Holyrood to bolder actions in the coming years.
But one key question would be the position of the Scottish Greens on independence. If they take a clear positive view as independence as a route map to a greener, more socially just and nuclear-free Scotland, then we would be looking at Holyrood with a majority for independence, and that could be as significant as the celebrated 56 MPs at Westminster.