Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Interesting Times

I'm not hugely interested in the upcoming Scottish elections. Partly due to politics fatigue, partly because I no longer see any hope of a better society through politics, and partly because I think they're mostly a foregone conclusion - it's hard to see any outcome other than another SNP government, with only some small doubt over whether it will be another majority or a return to minority governance.

However, the one thing that does interest me somewhat is the question of what will happen with the Tories, the Lib Dems, and, especially, Labour.

Here's the thing: for a long time, Labour was the big party in Scotland. And part of that success (though by no means all) was due to them being the only viable alternative - for a long time, they could capitalise on the "anyone but the Tories" vote; this later shifted to the "anyone but the SNP" (which brought in a different group of tactical voters, but the result was much the same).

But the problem is that a tactical vote only works if the recipient looks like they have a chance of winning. Thus, the "anyone but the Tories" vote has now shifted pretty definitively to the SNP. And the "anyone but the SNP" argument no longer works, as Labour have just shown that they have no more ability to win against them than do the Tories or the Lib Dems - anyone who voted for Labour tactically might as well have voted for their real preferred party.

So, I wonder just what impact that might have. How many people have tactically voted Labour in the past in order to cut out the SNP? And how many of those voters, seeing now that it won't make much difference, will instead swing back to their preferred Tories or Lib Dems?

(I suppose there's still a chunk of anti-Tory voters who are also anti-independence, who might therefore still tactically vote Labour to try to keep both Tories and SNP out. Though I wonder how many of those there truly are. I also wonder whether any such voters might be swayed by the knowledge that an SNP vote isn't a vote for independence - at the most, it's a vote for another referendum, where there's still a majority for staying.)

So that's a matter of some (fairly academic) interest to me: will Labour's vote hold, or will they now start to lose ground to the Tories? Have the Lib Dems hit bottom, or will the Alistair Carmichael fiasco hurt them still further?

Oh, and if Labour do continue to slide, will Kezia Dugdale be forced to resign, leading to another new leader, or will Labour stick with her as the best available option? But I guess that one depends on just what Labour do with their list nominees, and so depends on who is available as a potential successor.

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