By Mike Small
Of all the harsh news cascading around Murphy, Dalgety and McTernan’s ears as they hunker down with a bottle of hooch must be the news that the youth vote is gone. Look at this for a stark, generational shift:
18-24 year olds Lab 19% SNP 31%
65+ Lab 32% SNP 19%
No amount of bevvy at our non-existent, downgraded football will coax those kids back. All the evidence is that once people change voting patterns they are them free to make their own, non-habitual choices in the future. People haven’t ‘leant the SNP their vote’ for one election, they’ve abandoned the Labour Party because it’s become a joke.
Kennedy is predicted to lose to the SNP in Ross, Skye and Lochaber, where he has been the MP since 1983 and is defending a majority of 13,000. That’s the price for doing nothing badly over a sustained period.
Even Kirkcaldy where the entire town and surrounding press and all aspects of civil society operate as a sort of venerable shrine to Gordon Brown, The God. Now even this minor deity’s 23,000 majority looks shakey. The Fife Free Press will have to close, itt will have nothing to report any more.
Right across the political spectrum pundits and political commentators are suddenly playing wakey-wakey. Nostrils filled with caffeine aroma are fuelling desperate thoughts across this isle.
The New Statesman’s George Eaton writes with newly found hysteria: “The SNP surge is arguably most significant development in British party politics in post-45 era.” While poor Alex Massie adds: “this year’s election looks like being an unmitigated disaster for Unionism.”
The Telegraph’s Ben Riley-Smith (who had a bad time of it in the referendum) cautions us that:
“Danny Alexander, the Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury, and Douglas Alexander, Labour’s election campaign chief and shadow foreign secretary, will both no longer be MPs come May 8 according to the polls.”
The concept of a coherent British political entity is peeling apart before our eyes and is resulting in more panic than you’ve seen since Charlie left Derby.
“The vote on September 18 should have been final but was treated as a dummy run by the Nationalists. Their assault on the British parliament they seek to destroy may be cynical in the extreme, but they have become the party to beat in Scotland. If that takes a united front, let’s unite.”
This ‘assault’ seems to include actually running for parliament? It’s almost as if these people were part of the democracy?
This form of delusion in the face of relentless and overwhelming evidence must have a name? Whatever’s its called, Jennifer has form.
It is remarkable, even down to the level of language, how far folk like Hjul are prepared to go, to hang onto the idea that self-government is a pathological enthusiasm, limited to a tiny band of vaguely disreputable Scottish eccentrics. If you can’t find your preferred opponent in the real world? Use your imagination. Project them into existence. Conjure them, in language, from the ether. Like demon toys.
But really the notion of a new unionist front as a tactical voting response is such a hilariously bad plan it has to be encouraged at all costs, in all constituencies, everywhere.
The level of self-denial and confusion about the wider public’s thoughts and feeling expressed by the politicians and their brethren in the press is remarkable. Or it would be if it wasn’t the routine pattern of behaviour of a political class that’s proved itself remote and ow increasingly redundant.
Crumbs of comfort?
Jim Murphy, if Ashcroft is right, will hang on in East Renfrewshire. But only as a sort of David Mundell in the East in charge of a discredited rump party. That’s not a tenable position to lead from. He’d have to go.
What’s not been talked about yet is who will replace Murphy if, as looks increasingly likely, he oversees a disaster in 9 weeks time.
In terms of real political shifts in British politics, it’s clear we are still living through historical change. Alex Massie writes: “We’ve not seen anything like this, you know, since Sinn Fein won a landslide in the Irish portion of the 1918 election. And you will remember what happened after that.”
Paradox and ambiguity are everywhere. This morning Scottish Labour MPs are said to have tried to rule out any pact with the SNP. Anything like this result could end with a healthier livelier Labour Party at a UK level. Irvine Welsh notes that: “Having 50 MP’s not obligated to Westminster establishment will be paradoxically better for people in rUK than 50 ScoLab test crash dummies.”
The real challenge for the SNP, if these results are borne out, is delivering a political strategy as bold and brave as the 100,000 and the country that’s backing them.
It’s the Scottish Labour conference this weekend in the capital. We may hear the famous claim that “We won’t lose a single seat to the SNP” re-worded as “We will retain a single seat tom the SNP”.