In little over 4 months, Britain will go to the polls in the most eagerly anticipated General Election in recent memory. As margins go it will be a tightly run thing. Every single seat will count; incumbents of previously ‘safe’ seats will be looking over their shoulders nervously. Nowhere more so than Scotland, where the stakes are incredibly high as the result may well determine the makeup of the next UK Government.
The political map of Scotland has been dramatically redrawn in the wake of the Scottish Referendum. Before the referendum, membership of the Nationalist party had stood at around 25,000, a figure which, according to SNP figures, rocketed to just over 90,000 come November. As the other beneficiary of YES campaign activism, the Green Party received a more modest increase from 1,200 to 7,500 members by December.
Sending shockwaves through the political landscape, the aftermath of the Referendum campaign will be felt in this year’s election. As a traditional Labour stronghold, Scotland has been a source of surety for the party. Claiming votes from old mining centres and working class loyalties, the party has often relied upon Scotland to place the crown of government upon its head in Westminster.
However, a process which began with the election of a majority SNP government in 2011 is now entering its final phase. According to a Guardian/ICM poll, backed up by subsequent polls, there is the distinct possibility of a Labour wipe-out come May 2015. The poll estimates that Labour would suffer a dramatic drop from 41 Scottish MPs to just 10, while the SNP would be the main benefactor from the party’s demise, increasing its own contingent from a currently neurontin price comparison meagre six to a much more substantial forty-six. In a further blow to the Labour leadership, the areas potentially liable for the worst haemorrhaging of voters are those constituencies previously noted as ‘safe’ Labour heartlands.
With the potential for this surge in support for the SNP, there are many problems which may arise for the would-be UK Government. Already categorically ruling out any negotiations to enter a coalition with the Conservatives, new First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has hinted at the possibility of the SNP working on a case-by-case basis with Labour – perhaps propping up a minority government.
Sturgeon herself finds that she is on an enviable plinth of confidence in Scotland. Pollsters found that of all party leaders she is the most trusted to deliver extra powers to the Scottish Parliament, a fact sure to buoy her already stalwart conviction to hold Westminister to account.
Aside from the assumption that Labour will triumph in the next election, something that is far from being certain, further pitfalls arise if a Conservative led coalition, or minority government, assumes control. For example, if it comes to pass that a Conservative led coalition in partnership with a strengthened UKIP, something David Cameron has refused to rule out in the event of a hung Parliament, enters into government at Westminster there will be an extremely strong case to be made that its rule is unrepresentative of the UK as a whole.
Whatever the myriad of hypothetical ifs and buts, bearing in mind that politicians are infamous for reneging on pledges and promises, it is certain that Scotland’s voters have a considerable amount of power in the run up to this next election.