Archive for the ‘Liberal Democrat’ category

If a Liberal Falls in Midlothian, Does Anyone Hear Them?

June 4, 2008

Over on his blog, J. Arthur MacNumpty rather succinctly puts the case for asking what is up with the Liberal Democrat Councillors when one will happily jump ship and defect to Labour, giving them control of Midlothian Council in the process? Of course were that to happen next door in Edinburgh, the rather fragile Lib/SNP coalition would find itself as a minority council.

But hold on, can we take this as a sign that the Liberal cause, at least in the central belt of Scotland? And what would that mean in the upcoming General Election if the Lib-Dems can’t get their supports out and energised because of the mess they’ve made in their traditional powerhouse of local government? The number of marginal seats in Scotland with the Lib-Dems in strong second places, where they are likely to challenge a sitting Labour MP is a fair few. If there is any weakness in the party machine, especially when being compared to Labour, then both the SNP and the Scottish Conservatives are going to be ready to strike, decimating the seat counts for the former parties.

Of course there’s no telling what damage to the perception of the Lib-Dems has happened thanks to their power sharing in the Scottish Parliament with Labour. Will there be a knock-on effect in an election to Westminster?

It’s a tough time to be a Lib Dem just now, no matter where you are in the country.


Tories to the Left, SNP to the Right… Labour Stuck in the Middle

May 18, 2008

Look I know it’s not accurate, I know it doesn’t go down to the constituency level, and that it’s not as simple as this… but still, is this the trend that we’ll be looking at in terms of seats and voting at the next General Election?

Speculative and Rough

In very broad strokes, the Labour vote and the Labour geography is going to get squeezed. The Lib Dems are going to solidify in the South West, with a few gains around the country, and Labour will be lucky to retian a strong ‘core’ vote in the midlands and the north of England.

On the opinion polls out in today’s Sunday papers, Labour are looking at almost no representation in the South East outside of the capital. How far the ‘border’ of the Conservative gains will climb up the country is going to determine the majority of the next Parliament. Perhaps we just need Jeremy Vine and a climbing Line in the studio to show us what we need to know?

And then there’s Scotland. You might as well throw away the electoral seat calculators that are in use at the moment, because I don’t think they’ve taken into account the sea change that the Scottish Parliament has had on the voters. The SNP are on the rise, Alex Salmond reckons 20 seats for the SNP is a good target for the next General Election (so obviously not all of Scotland is turning SNP yellow…), and given the general distaste of Labour, even before the fun of the WendyRendum, it’s going to be a fight for the party to retain their strength in the central belt.

Where is Gordon Brown’s Website?

May 12, 2008

So with all the upheaval going on, the laying out of a new vision (and this would be which version of the vision?) I thought I’d have a look at Gordon Brown’s website to find out what he actually thought. Except, ehrm, I’m struggling to find one.

The obvious address of opens up with “this is an unofficial site run independently and has no connections with any political party.” Going dot com doesn’t help either, as leads to a re-direct towards a Blogger based site posting up the occasional barbed attack on the man. The final format used by many MP’s is to suffix the name. Okay then… is a good start, as it’s not attacking him, but it’s also popping up a 403 error – I’m not allowed to access the content.

I’m assuming that something was resident at as the Wikipedia article for his Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath constituency points to it as his constituency website.

Final role of the dice – a general Google search on his name. Which points me to the Number Ten Downing Street, a wikipedia biography, and three estate agents trading under the name Gordon Brown. And of course the blogosphere discovered the delights of earlier this spring.

If Brown wants to have a national conversation, if he wants to listen to the country, then he could at least make it a little bit easier. Thankfully I am no longer his constituent, but I must ask my Mum and Dad (who still live in Cowdenbeath) how well advertised his surgeries are…

For fairness, I hit other party leaders to see where their first offical page was:
First Google result for David Cameron (Official Site)
First Google result for Nick Clegg (Official Site)
Third result for Alex Salmond (Offical, but 502 error report)
First result for Wendy Alexander (Offical site)

Poor show for the SNP leader there – I wonder if Wendy Alexander can use this web fangled nonsense as a new line of attack on the SNP leader… which will naturally embarrass her London chiefs in the process?

Scottish Conservative MPs After the Next Election

May 12, 2008

Yes that’s plural. In all the fun of the Scottish Parliamentary Labour Party vs The Labour Party (which does sound like a divorce decree nee The War of the Roses), it’s worthwhile considering who the main beneficiary will be at the upcoming General Election. On a UK level, it’s looking more and more likely that this will be portrayed as a ‘how many seats can Cameron’s Conservatives win?’ contest, and if (a) this will get them to a majority, and (b) how big that majority will be.

The scottish view of the party is going to be very interesting. I don’t yet think that the Tories are in any place well suited for a revival across the country. Political wounds specifically from The Poll Tax and The Miner’s Strike still occupy prominent places in the Scottish mind, especially in the central belt, and as the people who were deeply affected by those policies reach the age group where they are more likely to vote, the likelihood of them switching to a Conservative for a ‘protest’ vote is minimal.

In my mind, the SNP will pick up most of the protesting voters. But that doesn’t leave the Conservatives out for the count. The short answer, I think they’ll reach 20% of the votes and I think there are a handful of potential constituencies that are worth watching in the run up to polling day.

Dumfries and Galloway – (Labour majority 2,992)
If any inroads are made, even a whisper, then it will be in this seat. As far south geographically as possible, this is a straight fight against Labour.

Stirling – (Labour Majority 4,767)
Michael Forsythe’s old seat (and he can still cause a chill to run down our spines) is another straight fight against Labour, with the total Labour vote holding at around 15,000 in the last two elections. The depth of the collapse of Labour in the central belt will determine if this stays red or goes blue. A seat that also declares quite early on Election night, so a good indicator to fortunes.

Edinburgh South – (Labour majority 405 to the Liberals, 3897 to the Conservatives)
A pretty ugly fight in 2005, with dodgy bar graphs, claim and counter claim from the opposition parties eventually allowed Nigel Griffiths to sneak through the middle and win a wafer thin majority over the Liberal Democrats. I’ll be interested to see just how much effort is put into this seat by the respective campaigns.

Edinburgh North and Leith – Labour majority 2153 to the Liberals, 6628 to the Conservatives).
Adjoining Edinburgh South, this constituency presents the Liberal Democrats with a question – it’s 6th on their list of target seats, and the Conservative candidate is some distance back. But Edinburgh South is well within reach, albeit as part of a three way fight. A collapse on the Labour vote hands this to the Liberals, a Conservative resurgence turns it blue.

Perth and North Perthshire – (SNP majority 1521)
Here’;s a might interesting constituency, and one of the few direct SNP/Conservative match ups in the electoral landscape, with Labour out the fight. If the vote holds up here, it’s going to be a good ight for the Conservatives, but I think we’ll see a swing to the SNP and a hold.

Ochil and South Perthshire – (Labour majority 688 to the SNP, 4624 to the Conservatives).
This should be out of reach for the Conservatives, I’ve got it flagged up as a firewall. I very much doubt that this would become blue, but if it does then Labour would be looking at a very long time out of office. This is more likely to return to SNP hands, which is still pretty damaging to Labour both in Westminster and in the knock on effect in Holyrood.

Want me to put a number on it? They’ll win Dumfries, Stirling and one of Edinburgh South or Edinburgh North (depending on how the Liberals campaign in those Edinburgh seats). To take the Perthshire seats would mean a genuine liking of the Scottish Tories, as opposed to a Get Gordon Out vote, so I think that’s unlikely.

Final tally, three or four seats.

Added 10pm, May 12th:
Welcome to readers from Iain Dale’s Daley Dozen post (and thanks Iain, for the link). You can stay up to date with The Scottish Sketch by subscribing to the RSS feed or bookmaring the site ( Thanks for your time, hope to see you around in the near future.