Monday, 4 May 2015

General Election 2015: The View From The HIghlands (Other Parts Of Scotland Are Available)

It’s still a few days until the election and yet Susan Omand is looking ahead to political life after “the vote”...

Look at the map above. It typifies what a lot of the forecast polls are saying – no overall majority and a slight Conservative win over Labour in England, with the Lib Dems coming a very poor third without enough seats to help either of the two main parties achieve majority in a coalition. Now look at Scotland on that map. It’s Nationalist yellow in all but 4 areas. Which means that they will hold 55 seats in the new UK government and that, in turn, means there is a high likelihood that SNP will make up part of a coalition government. However this raises a lot of questions for me, to which I currently have no answers.

Firstly, Miliband has stated publicly on national television that he would rather lose than go into coalition with the Nationalists. So no coalition there then. Whether that remains the case after Thursday we will have to wait and see but if Miliband goes back on this, how many other “statements of intent” are going to be conveniently forgotten?

Secondly, it is highly unlikely that the Scottish Nationalists are going to find enough common ground to agree on a coalition with the Conservative AND UNIONIST party so soon after a referendum. There is a reason that there are very few Conservative held seats in Scotland and there will be even fewer given the huge amount of back peddling that Cameron did on all his “pre-Referendum” panic-driven promises. On the flip side, Cameron is also very much in favour of a referendum on whether the UK stays in Europe and has, indeed, made a statement to the BBC that he will not be the Prime Minister of a government that does not deliver on that pledge to hold a referendum. How then can he be so intent on keeping together a United Kingdom by going into power with a party that is so obviously pre-separation?

Thirdly, the West Lothian Question will become an even bigger issue with a UK coalition government between the SNP and anyone. For those not familiar with the West Lothian Question, MP Tam Dalyell, speaking in the Second Reading debate of the Scotland Bill on 14 November 1977, raised what he considered to be “a basic design fault” in the way power is devolved in the UK – the fact that non-English MPs can vote on legislation that affects English politics, while English MPs do not have an equivalent say in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It was called the West Lothian Question by Enoch Powell after Mr Dalyell’s constituency. So with the SNP as a major part of any new UK Cabinet, there should be an even bigger call for a devolved English Parliament in addition to the overall UK Government in Westminster. If Wales and Scotland have their own ruling bodies, is it not only fair that England gets the chance too? That being the case, how much actual power will a UK Government still have, and will this election lead to the dissolution of the UK altogether?

I will be casting a vote on Thursday because it is my obligation if I am to have any right to complain about the results. I will also be staying up to watch the count come in on Thursday night. But it is the days and weeks AFTER the vote that will be the most interesting. The future is undecided but the future is (at least in part) Scottish.

Follow Susan Omand on Twitter @OmandOriginal


  1. I suspect that the UK will eventually become a federal state, like Germany or the U.S., with each state responsible for tax-raising and spending as well as domestic issues but with foreign policy and defence decided by the UK government. If England does get its own parliament, I'd like it to be in Manchester or in the north so London doesn't have both.

  2. I know what you mean Chris but I think its unlikely. We will just limp on as we have done for hundreds of years. Personally I blame Colin and that Rotten Borough