How Soon is Now is Not the Time
This is just naked opportunism, but it does give an opportunity to have a Unionist-Free Scotland with these three MPs sitting uncomfortably on slender majorities:
All these seats are there for the taking. Mundell has had a torrid time as Scottish Secretary. Carmichael is a liar. Murray got in the last time by the SNP candidates own stupidity.
But whilst a Tory-Free Scotland would be a grand thing but the SNP may lose elsewhere depending on the nature of the Labour collapse and the quantity of Unionist Labour voters ‘holding their noses’ and voting Tory to ‘stop the ‘Nats’. It’s going to be very difficult with limited (or no) polling to anticipate that, both because we simply don’t have access to the numbers but also because of a new phenomena, Labour voters who’s motivation is primarily the Union, but who would never admit to such a thing. But there are other forces at play. What of Liberal and Labour pro-European voters? Will they really vote for a hard-Brexit PM to embolden the English Conservatives? Is their tribal hatred of the SNP so visceral they’d do that? I’m not sure it is in any significant numbers.
Other critical constituencies and questions are in the air.
Can the SNP hold Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross taken from the Liberal Democrats in 2015?
Ross, Skye and Lochaber and Na h-Eileanan an Iar – held by Angus MacNeil will also be key.
Will Mhairi Black stand again in Paisley?
But there’s another aspect to this for those of us caught in the vortex of tribal constitutionalism to think about.
It’s not so much ‘voter fatigue’ as ‘electoral enervation’. Lots of people are just disgusted with politicians of all sorts. The Brexit campaign was such a Festival of Lies and the changing faces of politicians who campaigned one-way then about-turned for obvious self-interest was shocking to many people. And, while the SNP has a cohort of dedicated fans, many people are bone-tired with this level of political frenzy married to this level of political inertia. It’s like a very angry logjam.
This election will be about Brexit, about Scotland and about Ireland. It will also almost inevitably lead to the split of the Labour Party. Although some people are talking-up Tim Farron’s Liberal Party, it’s difficult to see what they will be voting for? An anti-Brexit vote may rally like Custer at the Bighorn but they are likely to revert to type as a protest vote for nice people in sandals. After their disastrous PR referendum and time-served propping-up Cameron, the Liberal’s have been electoral toast. But whilst the election presents threats for the Liberals and Labour, and even the SNP – it’s the Conservatives who are most at risk. As Alex Massie has noted:
“The case for independence itself remains unproven, of course, but that is a matter of secondary importance right now. Right now the argument is over whether or not there is a case for a second referendum. Until now, Unionists had on the whole the better of that argument, not least because a referendum inspired by Brexit could not sensibly take place until such time as the impact of Brexit is felt and understood. Theresa May burnt that argument this morning. She did so as a Conservative, not as a Unionist. That is her choice, her prerogative. But it remains something she did not have to do.”
In seeking a mandate May is also creating an opportunity for Sturgeon and Harvie to capture one too.
There’s other factors too. The Crown Prosecution Service will deliver their judgement on Tory Election Fraud in the coming days. Tory support for the Rape Clause will be fresh in peoples minds and has halted Ruth Davidson’s (perceived) advances.
To what extent will Scottish voters vote above party interest and vote anti-Tory is the key question.
You could say that in a very real sense, people are coming together and uniting behind the opportunities that lie ahead.