Ashcroft polls predict SNP gains – including Bob Smith and Charles Kennedy’s seats – but don’t panic yet

If tonight’s Ashcroft polls are worrying for Liberal Democrats, they will be petrifying for the Labour Party – and not just in Scotland where their new leader Jim Murphy’s seat is on a knife edge. Of the eight Scottish seats polled, six are predicted at this stage to go to the SNP. These include the seats of Liberal Democrats Bob Smith and Charles Kennedy. The loss of these  north east and highland heartlands would be a massive blow to the party.  You can see the figures in this table:

Ashcroft polls 4 March 2015

The race in Charles’ seat is pretty close, with just 5 points between Charles and the SNP with 22% of a squeezable Labour and Tory vote. It is very clear that this is a two horse race. Labour and Tory voters will have to think about who they want in Parliament to represent them. Do they want the independent minded, popular Charles or an SNP MP who will have to sign up to do exactly what his political masters tell them without criticism.

The situation in West Aberdeenshire is, in this poll, more complex with support apparently split between Liberal Democrat and Conservative. However that rather flies in the face of the Conservative retreat from this constituency. You would think that they would have some reason for making that decision. The Tories know that they can’t win. I suspect that Bob Smith will be making sure that everyone knows there is simply no point in voting Tory and he will pick up enough of their vote to hang on.

It’s worth emphasising as well that Ashcroft polls do not mention the names of the candidates. In these parts of Scotland, personal reputation is everything, and if those asked were given the names Charles Kennedy and Bob Smith, I suspect that their numbers would be a good bit higher.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats are in fighting form, emphasising how much the SNP have taken their eye of the ball in both Highlands and North East. A spokesperson said:

These polls show that Lib Dems are best placed to stop the SNP in the Highlands and the North East.

The SNP have centralised services away from the Highlands and the North East to the central belt.

Every week that passes we see more problems with hospitals, colleges and schools that have come about because the SNP took their eye off the ball on day-to-day services to focus on the referendum.

So as the election gets nearer people will want to back Scottish Liberal Democrat MPs to support our focus on public services and our plan for more support for the NHS.

I was called everything under the sun for daring to suggest that the SNP wanted another Tory government, preferably with UKIP involvement, the other day. The Ashcroft polls show that SNP voters would prefer to see David Cameron in 10 Downing Street. Well, fancy that.

There’s still a long way to go in this election. In 2011 at this stage nobody was suggesting that there would be an SNP overall majority at Holyrood. Things can change. The SNP are getting away with portraying themselves as being the people who will stand up for Scotland at Westminster. Labour haven’t been great at doing that over the years, but the Liberal Democrats have a strong record in that regard. The challenge of the next few weeks is to make sure that we get that message across. We are the only ones who can prevent SNP excesses – like a massive ID database, arming the police and stopping and searching children. We also can be trusted to deliver more powers for the Scottish Parliament which give Scotland the flexibility it needs within the security of the United Kingdom.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Bad news for Labour and the LibDems, but I disagree that it is worse for Labour. If Charles Kennedy was to lose his seat – I think he was 5% behind the SNP in the poll – that would surely leave the LibDems with only Shetland and Orkney which would be a disaster.

  • At least be consistent in your logic Caron. Surely if some in west Aberdeenshire doesn’t want an snp candidate then they need to vote Tory as the conservatives are the clear 2nd place there now?

  • Actually, what Caron is hiding or is not aware of is that they DID ask what difference Charles Kennedy makes as a candidate. as Prof Curtice reports here,
    Although it does make some difference as might be expected, it doesn’t look like it provides anywhere near a big enough straw to clutch at.

  • Al – no they didn’t that’s the standard 2 question Ashcroft poll. You would expect that will a very well known figure like Charles that his name recognition would rise when people are prompted with his name (as they would be on the ballot paper). It’s unimpressive that John Curtice doesn’t make that point clear.

    It would be interesting if Lord Ashcroft would do some polling where he does name candidates to see what impact that has. Certainly looking at the Scottish election results in 2011 there is a notably better performance – albeit quite small scaled – where a sitting MSP was restanding compared to seats with a new candidate.

    One significant thing is the woeful level of Labour campaign activity – being behind the SNP on that measure in all their held seats. Now given the polls generally, and the last round of Ashcroft Scottish polls you would be expecting them to up their game a bit…. And on that measure, there isn’t much evidence of a Tory withdrawal from West Aberdeenshire (where they are ahead of all parties)

  • Actually the Ashcroft poll does not show that SNP voters prefer David Cameron in Downing Street ( see table 11 of the data sets. . ) I really think the Scottish LDs need to stop this histrionic SNP bad mantra and adjust to the changes in Scotland and show some pragmatism and humility about why they are facing electoral meltdown in May and why a third of their 2010 voters intend to vote SNP.

  • @Hywel The point surely is that his constituents will already be very aware of Charles Kennedy. This isn’t some amorphous urban constituency!

  • Hywel, if he has a personal vote, then his name doesn’t need to be in the polling question. That’s the whole point of a personal vote. Ashcroft uses a two part question and Chuckles gained 10pts with the constituency focused question. At least he might be able to beggar the Tories but the Labour voters in the constituency will be inclined to jump on the SNP. Meanwhile the Robert Smith is toast.

  • Philip Thomas 5th Mar '15 - 7:48am

    Scotland is different: we are still doing better where we have MPs in England and Wales.
    And even in Scotland, this is a one election disaster. I think once the voters have seen what the SNP do with real power at Westminster the honeymoon will be over quite quickly.

  • Stephen Hesketh 5th Mar '15 - 7:49am

    If last night’s party political broadcast was ‘Open Doors, the Sequel’ This must be Locked Doors, Blocked Letter Boxes, Deaf Ears: the GE Prequel.

    For goodness sake, it may now be too late to change the Captain but it is not to late for those MP’s on the bridge with him to point that if it looks and sounds like a cliff, then that’s almost certainly what it is. Turn the bloody ship round!

  • Stephen Hesketh 5th Mar '15 - 7:53am

    Philip Thomas 5th Mar ’15 – 7:48am
    “Scotland is different: we are still doing better where we have MPs in England and Wales.
    And even in Scotland, this is a one election disaster. I think once the voters have seen what the SNP do with real power at Westminster the honeymoon will be over quite quickly.”

    Full steam ahead then?

  • Philip Thomas 5th Mar '15 - 7:55am

    @Stephen Hesketh, what possible measures could be taken to stop the SNP landslide, short of the Lib Dems coming out in favour of Scottish independence?

  • Tony Rowan-Wicks 5th Mar '15 - 8:12am

    Was the “wonder political broadcast” shown yesterday in Scotland? Actually I hope not as it would convince voters that our great party cannot even string together a lucid broadcast either. Who suggested placing LD policies on doors etc? Is it the new brainwave from party HQ? The broadcast was an embarrassment – such a golden chance missed.

  • Paul in Wokingham 5th Mar '15 - 8:15am

    Caron is correct – it is not time to panic. Those of us who have watched the polls have observed previously that in 2010 7% of all votes cast in Scotland were cast for Lib Dems in seats that we won. So if we are polling 4% nationally in Scotland then that means that we would lose a lot of seats even if we get no votes at all in the other 46 seats. The tyranny of arithmetic will always trump wishful thinking.

    So why is it not time to panic? Because we should be working on the basis of “save what we can” and be redirecting effort from forlorn hopes to the eminently winnable – and clearly Charles’ seat is in that category.

    So “no” to panic and “yes” to a sober and strategic redeployment of resources to what we can hold.

  • Actually, I’m not convinced by these polls. This isn ‘t a criticism of Ashcroft,, his results conflict with prior outcomes, and he’s the only person polling so there’s no way to know if there is a methodical pro-SNP bias. Also, SNP voters don’t want to see Cameron in Downing Street, see anti-Tory rhetoric used to get out the Yes vote,, so any poll that says they do is clearly an outlier, even if their leaders might for strategic reasons.

  • Stephen Hesketh 5th Mar '15 - 8:25am

    Philip Thomas 5th Mar ’15 – 7:55am
    “@Stephen Hesketh, what possible measures could be taken to stop the SNP landslide, short of the Lib Dems coming out in favour of Scottish independence?”

    Philip, the Scots voted against leaving the UK.

    I believe this is partly the Scottish version of ordinary peole reacting against the Westminster-centric parties. ‘We’ have become part of the problem – particularly in Scotland – by cosying up to the Tories. That was always going to go down well north of the border wasn’t it – where they have already had the sense to wipe out the Tories and we are now be portrayed as their close proxies.

  • Eddie Sammon 5th Mar '15 - 8:26am

    Is Jim Murphy planning on taking over the Scottish Labour manifesto, including for Westminster? Unless he does this he cannot disassociate Scottish Labour from Ed Miliband. However, neither can Nicola Sturgeon, given her stated preferences.

    I’m not Scottish and don’t live in Scotland, but if I did have a vote I would probably vote for whoever was the anti-SNP candidate. I would normally vote for Lib Dems regardless, but I fail to feel enthused by their campaign and I think it is important not to split the vote.

    Perhaps that is the best hope for the campaign. A big squeeze.

  • Philip Thomas 5th Mar '15 - 8:28am

    @Stephen Hesketh. The reason the SNP are winning is because if all the “Yes” voters vote for the SNP then that is a plurality of voters over the other parties (the “No” vote is split between them) in most constituencies. That is it, it is simply an artefact of FPTP.

  • Philip Thomas 5th Mar '15 - 8:31am

    (After all, Labour are also losing most of their seats, and they certainly haven’t been “cosying up to the Tories”)

  • Caron,no-one is panicking.
    Why, well it has been apparent for 2 -3 years that we would in all probability end up with no more than 2 seats in Scotland. So this is just confirmation. Now we have to look at England. YouGov had us at 5% on Tuesday. Let us be honest with ourselves, that sort of polling DOES impact on people when they are choosing a government and if so they will see the party as irrelevant. Look at 1970,just over 300 candidates and 7.5% of the vote, return of MPS in single numbers. It is not just Parliamentary elections where a hammering lies before us, at 5% we are what 5 – 7% below our 2011 ratings, so we can expect further significant local council losses over and above the 2011 debacle..
    Unfortunately the party had opportunities to do something about the situation but over the past couple of years has not done what should have been done. It is too late now, the die is cast and the best we can hope for is a new effective leader who can come across well with the public, giving us time to start a slow climb up a very long and steep electoral slope. The problem there is that we may well have have given the Greens some of our space to occupy.

  • Philip Thomas 5th Mar ’15 – 8:31am

    Philip Thomas, in the context of Scotland it is Labour who are the Tories – or to be entirely accurate The Unionists.
    Over the last 15 years our party has a clear record of “cosying up” to the Labour Party in the Edinburgh Parliament.

    Despite the misgivings of many party members in Scotland, our party under Nick Clegg and Willie Rennie has become a Unionist party, hard to distinguish from other Unionist parties.
    The people in Scotland who for generations voted Liberal or Liberal Democrat because they were left of centre have, as a direct result, stopped voting for us.

    This is a lesson for the party in the rest of the UK especially from 8th May onwards.
    If Liberal Democrats continue to be seen by voters as nothing more than “nice Tories” — we will suffer the same fate as that predicted in Scotland.

  • Ruth Bright 5th Mar '15 - 9:51am

    Of course the worry is greater for us. Labour is worrying about victory; we are worrying about survival.

    Re Stephen Hesketh’s point – I recently visited the Titanic museum with my kids. We learnt that though all-out panic is dangerous some well directed panic in the right quarters can save a lot of lives!

  • Paul in Wokingham 5th Mar '15 - 10:24am

    Lord Ashcroft has just tweeted a nice summation of his focus group’s perception of the messages of the parties and their concerns about them. Labour: ” We’ll save the NHS” *but* “Where’s the money?”. Con: “Let us finish the job” *but* “What is the long term economic plan?”. Lib Dem : “We’ll balance the extremes” *but* “Will you have any clout?”.

    As Theakes notes above when people are choosing a government you don’t your party to look like a sideshow. Particularly a sideshow with such a vague and insipid core message.

  • Simon Shaw 5th Mar ’15 – 9:08am
    “…. What people fail to recognise is that if, in a four to five-party system, you have one party on 45% to 50% of the vote, then it is very likely to win virtually all the seats.”

    Simon Shaw is right. Although he should read Ruth Bright’s comment on the relative threat to Labour and ourselves.

    As Ruth points out – the threat is to the very survival of any Liberal Democrats to the North of Tim Farron.

  • Hireton/Dair – well we don’t really know untill there is something comparable with a name prompt but…

    1) A recent Thanet South poll gave Farage a higher rating than UKIP got in Ashcroft when names were used
    2) A 10pt bump is actually lower than the average bump the Lib Dems get in held seats on Q2 – compare it with 17 in Eastleigh, 18-19 in Sutton and Carshalton and 22 in Eastbourne for example

  • My recollection is that in that distant past when opinion poll data was collected by people with clipboards on high streets, the data on Highland voting intentions was particularly unreliable because the people with the clipboards stood in the centre of, say, Inverness, and most of our vote was not in Inverness but in the wilds beyond, e.g in Skye. This is not of course a relevant factor today, but it is probably still the case that voters who respond to polling surveys will be disproportionately urban, and that those with email who are not urban are likely to be disproportionately middle-class.
    Also, as people on this thread have already commented in relation to Charles Kennedy, the Ashcroft questioning did not specifically mention his name, and the mention in questioning of any of the names of our well-known Highland MPs is likely to give some sort of lift to their polling figures. Time will tell how things in reality turn out.

  • Hywel 5th Mar ’15 – 10:31am

    Hywel, what odds will you give me on more MPs in the London Borough of Sutton than in the whole of Scotland ?

  • @Philip Thomas
    “And even in Scotland, this is a one election disaster. I think once the voters have seen what the SNP do with real power at Westminster the honeymoon will be over quite quickly.”

    Well with 2011 it will be a two election disaster and probably a three election one in 2016.

    Scotland has seen what the SNP have done with real power since 2007 and seem to like it.

  • matt (Bristol) 5th Mar '15 - 12:47pm

    I remember before the referendum I speculated wildly about what would the future of politics inside an independent Scotland be, and using the history of the Irish Republic, posited that we would see the secession from the UK becoming a fundamental fault line that would separate the parties irrespective of other policy differences – maybe for generations (because basically/crudely, when you look at the difference between Fianna Faill and Fine Gael, the 2 main Irish parties, it comes down to who backed which side in the Irish Civil War of the 1920s.)

    In actual fact, we may be already at the stage where that fault line has been reached in Scottish politics, and it was the referendum itself that was the fault line.

    If that is true, and the SNP do take the (hypothetical) sum of 80 to 90 per cent of Scottish parliamentary seats, do our Scottish members see the possibility of a post-GE merger of all or some of the ‘unionist’ parties in Scotland (although almost everyone who is is effectively at least halfway to being a federalist in some form now)?

    Can only PR or STV save genuine multiparty politics in Scotland?

  • John – I only bet on elections when I think I have better inside knowledge than the person I’m betting against 😉

    I actually think on that poll (taking all questions into account) that it points fairly strongly to Charles’ seat being winnable if not exactly safe. There are also indications that there might be more of a chink of light in Gordon than previously thought. I’d also be interested to see what the situation is in the Borders – it was the Borders seat that performed best of the Scottish Parliament held seats in 2011 suggesting that area might be more resistant to an SNP surge than others.

  • Tony Rowan-Wicks 5th Mar '15 - 1:30pm

    I just received a request from Tim Farron to donate [again] to save the party because Tony Blair has made a £100,000 donation to Labour’s election campaign. I don’t have £100k so what do I do? £100k will not help us while the blind lead us blindly into a black hole. Sometimes, when certain people don’t “get it” we sit back and wait – maybe armageddon will not be complete, maybe a miracle will happen, maybe other parties will slip up badly, maybe ….. Actually I wait to rebuild, as we have done before, a left of centre party which serves all our people with courage and policies the majority want. That will be a good start.

  • @Matt(Bristol)

    “Can only PR or STV save genuine multiparty politics in Scotland?”

    I think the LDs need to be less Anglo-centric! Multi-party politics is alive and well in Scotland with the proportional systems we have for voting at Holyrood, local elections and for the EU. Only Westminster is FPTP; says it all really.

  • Caracatus, 10.30am today: you are so right, the pending disaster for the party

  • Peter Galton 5th Mar '15 - 7:13pm

    Where ever we are this May, we must expect a punch on the nose. I will be doing all I can for the Lib Dems. I am so proud that my son and daughter will be standing as candidates in the local elections with me in Southampton. I never thought they would but they are willing to enter the fray for the Lib Dems.
    As for Scotland, we will have to see what happens, The SNP could very well do well on the night. To my simple mind and having FPTP in the UK, the NO vote will be split and the YES will not be. Adding the votes up afterwards may not see the YES vote coming out on top. We will see. We need to look to the future after May. Things for the Lib Dems will be a lot clearer, as for the UK perhaps not.

  • Jane Ann Liston 5th Mar '15 - 7:17pm

    I think Caron is right – the SNP do want a Tory victory, and as right-wing as possible. The great cause of independence would, they believe, be boosted by an anti-Tory reaction in Scotland and because the cause is so great, nearly everything which advances it is justified. The idea of the SNP cosily supporting a Labour government having done their best to eliminate all of their Scottish MPs is risible. See Shakespeare’s Richard III:

    Queen Elizabeth: Yet thou dids’t kill my children.
    Richard: But in thy daughter’s womb I bury them.

    Shakespeare’s Richard (unlike the historical king) has just made the monstrous ‘suggestion’ to his widowed sister-in-law that he should marry Princess Elizabeth of York, despite having murdered her brothers. Equally outrageous would be the SNP ‘murdering’ all the Scottish Labour seats then expecting the MPs from England & Wales to happily form a coalition/partnership with them.

    I’m not sure that a one-party state in Scotland is a good idea, though, whichever party it were.

  • Philip Thomas 5th Mar '15 - 7:35pm

    @John Tilley
    I am unashamed of our opposition to Scottish Independence: if that is what you mean by Unionism I cannot see why a party cannot be both Unionist and left-of-centre.

  • Thomas Robinson 5th Mar '15 - 8:42pm

    @Jane Ann Liston

    “Equally outrageous would be the SNP ‘murdering’ all the Scottish Labour seats then expecting the MPs from England & Wales to happily form a coalition/partnership with them.”

    Unfortunately that is just another example of the political naivety of the Lib Dems, the sort of naivety that held a referendum, not on PR, but on AV.

    Do you seriously believe that Ed Milliband will turn down the opportunity to be British PM (he politically “murdered”, to use your terminology , his own brother for the mere chance) if Labour, supported in some way by the SNP, can command a Commons majority?

  • If the SNP wins almost all the seats in Scotland on a minority vote, how long will Labour be able to sustain their opposition to PR?

  • Denis Mollison 5th Mar '15 - 10:36pm

    With apologies for repetition, a comment I made on the “devolve oil” post yesterday seems equally apposite to this discussion:

    Since rejecting the possibility of a third (“devo-max”) option on the ballot paper the party’s identity has been lost within the anti-independence conglomerate.

    The problem goes back earlier, to the 2007 election, after which we refused to even discuss coalition with the SNP. At the time I was upset that the Scottish leadership took this decision without waiting for the wider body of members who were due to meet on the Sunday 3 days after the election. It has since come out that this decision was heavily influenced by our federal leader (Ming, who was in turn leant on by Gordon Brown). Not good either for democracy or the independent status of the Scottish party.

    Today’s situation echoes 2007. I quite understand that we are campaigning vigorously against the SNP considering that they are the main threat in 10 of our 11 seats. But given that their policy stance is that for the coming parliament their aim is stronger devolution not independence, it’s a pity we don’t seem to be able to contemplate working with them. We have the irony that it’s the unionist parties that are trying to make this election a rerun of the Independence referendum.

  • @Jane Ann Liston

    And so the LD demonizing of the SNP continues. No pragmatic analysis just hysterical posturing. How did the LAds come to this?

  • Julian Gibb 6th Mar '15 - 12:43am

    Obviously a number of posters are unaware that Holyrood elections are on a form of PR. The list system still only gives the LibDems a taxi load of MSP’s

    I’m amazed at the hatred Caron has for the SNP. Her version of political events in Scotland are verging on fiction.

    I have been helping in Gordon plus Banff and Buchan. I find it hard to believe that your samples on voting intent are that far from the data I’ve seen. Banff and Buchan is over 60 percent. Gordon is approaching 45 percent consistently.

    Labour failed to reflect post the 2011 Holyrood elections. It looks like the LibDems will be doing the same after the Westminster 2015 elections.

  • A couple of points to consider from all this.

    Firstly, opinion poll leads always draw back eventually from where they are a couple of months before the election. That doesn’t mean that the SNP won’t get the most votes or seats, just that in close contests they are statistically less likely to win based on pervious elections.

    Secondly, I’m starting to think we’ll be facing another election in October / November. I don’t think that Labour will do a deal of any sorts with the SNP – because they will simply lose forever their activists’ support in Scotland. That leaves a minority Labour government scrabbling around to get deals with other parties, or a minority Tory government, neither of which would survive the inevitable confidence vote.

  • David Evans 6th Mar '15 - 3:44pm

    Caron, we are now only two months away from the edge of the precipice and all you can suggest is don’t panic. It has been clear since 2011 that we have been in danger of wipeout in mainland Scotland, but almost every post by the LDV Team has been “Steady as she goes. The captain knows what he is doing.” Sadly you were wrong and he didn’t, unless of course you believe that he knew he was destroying the party in Scotland.

    From only one MP – the great Jo Grimond in 1959, to three in 1964 and up and down, but generally upwards to 9 in 1992 and 11 in 2010, there is a real risk we will be back to one in 2015. 50 years to build and five years and one man to destroy. Don’t panic – all we need is a new Jo Grimond and it’s just fifty years to get back to where we were in 2010. It’s much too late to panic now.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 6th Mar '15 - 8:23pm

    @Julian Gibb and @David Howell: I don’t hate anybody or any party. It’s amazing how so many commenters feel it’s entirely reasonable to pull the Liberal Democrats to bits, yet any even mild criticism of another party attracts accusations of tribal hatred.

    If you want to see examples of tribal hatred, you should see some of the replies I and many other Liberal Democrats get on Twitter.

  • Recent YouGov poll of young people for the British Youth Council. Amongst under 25s it shows voting intentions of CON 22%, LAB 36%, LDEM 5%, UKIP 12%, GRN 19%

    The LibDems on 5% in a poll for the under 25’s – I think it may well be time to panic! 7% behind UKIP on a poll for the under 25’s, how did it ever get this bad?

  • @malc
    “The LibDems on 5% in a poll for the under 25’s – I think it may well be time to panic!”

    Just as well the Lib Dems and Tories have removed hundreds of thousands of those troublesome under-25s from the electoral roll!

    Someone call in the UN election observers!

  • David Evans wrote:

    “Sadly you were wrong and he didn’t, unless of course you believe that he knew he was destroying the party in Scotland.”

    While I believe that Nick Clegg is the wrong person to lead the party, and I think he has done great damage to the party overall, I cannot see how he can be blamed for destroying the party in Scotland. Labour has suffered a serious reverse in Scotland, too, and Labour is led by Ed Miliband, not Nick Clegg.

    I think part of the reason for this is the failure of the political class to wake up and realise what the SNP is. The SNP is not led by reasonable, rationale people who just happen to want an independent Scotland. The SNP is an extremely ruthless, determined, tightly organised separatist movement that shamelessly exploits sentimental, chauvinistic, backward-looking nationalist sentiment, legitimises and encourages the poison of Anglophobia, and conjures up imaginary grievance after imaginary grievance against the wicked “Westminster” in pursuit of its single fundamentalist goal.

    I suggest we cast our minds back to the 1975 EEC Referednum. The “Yes” campaign, which won very decisively, focussed on two themes: (1) If Britain voted “No”, Tony Benn would take over the country; and (2) the EEC was about bringing nations together, not keeping them apart in pursuit of narrow nationalism. The first theme clearly ensured that the right voted overwhelmingly “Yes”. The second appealed to liberally and progressively minded people who would not necessarily want to go along with Ted Heath. In other words, a liberal campaigning argument worked.

    As liberals, we should be for bringing people together and against pulling people apart. And we should be putting that message across to liberals, progressives and modernists in Scotland loudly and clearly.

  • @sesenco

    “The SNP is an extremely ruthless, determined, tightly organised separatist movement that shamelessly exploits sentimental, chauvinistic, backward-looking nationalist sentiment, legitimises and encourages the poison of Anglophobia, and conjures up imaginary grievance after imaginary grievance against the wicked “Westminster” in pursuit of its single fundamentalist goal.”

    Once again the LDs demonstrate a complete misunderstanding of Scotland and the SNP. I’m English living in Scotland and the idea that the SNP promote Anglophobia is risible.

  • Sesenco 6th Mar ’15 – 9:46pm

    I am surprised by your perception of the politics of Scotland.
    I have to say that I do to recognise “… extremely ruthless, determined, tightly organised separatist movement that shamelessly exploits sentimental, chauvinistic, backward-looking nationalist sentiment, ” etc etc
    It does to describe the former Liberal Democrat members and voters who have been driven out of our party by Clegg, Astle etc.
    Can I put a question about your logic? Would you describe Dutch Liberals as chauvinistic, backwards looking “separatist movements” because they do to want Union with England?

    Of all the UK political parties with more than one MEP, the SNP is the most openly enthusiastic Pro-European party. That hardly fits with your description does it?

  • Spill-Chucker alert, that should have read —
    I have to say that I do NOT recognise “… extremely ruthless, determined, tightly organised separatist movement that shamelessly exploits sentimental, chauvinistic, backward-looking nationalist sentiment, ” etc etc

  • David Evans 7th Mar '15 - 11:18am

    Sesenco – Whilst I’m sure a case could be constructed that Nick should not be blamed for the mess in Scotland, using the fact that Ed has been in charge of Labour and they have collapsed is a total red herring. You might as well have pointed out that the Conservatives lost all their Scots MPs under John Major and that showed the Lib Dem collapse was not Nick’s fault. The three events each occurred at different times and, although they have some causal similarities, the existence of the other two do not prove Nick did not have substantial culpability for our predicament.

    In the case of the Conservatives, it is a simple fact that they became phenomenally unpopular in Scotland largely since Margaret Thatcher’s time (under her they lost half their MPs in Scotland, John Major lost the other half). One significant reason was that the Conservatives were increasingly seen as an English party (in fact an un-Scottish party) by many Scots and so a ‘Whoever can beat the Conservatives’ momentum built up.

    We gained from that in a lot of rural Scotland, but, partly by going into coalition with the Conservatives in 2010, but mainly by looking and sounding like Conservatives once in coalition, Nick very quickly tarred us with the same brush. As a result, within one year we were decimated in the 2011 Scottish parliamentary elections. However, Nick did nothing was done to change it and we are looked on in the same way as the Conservatives now by many.

    Labour’s problems arose much later, directly from the Independence Referendum, where they too managed to make themselves look anti-Scotland by supporting the unionist message. Ed may have failed to make Labour look Scottish enough, but Nick has made us look totally English and totally Conservative. It really is his fault.

  • John Tilley wrote:

    “Can I put a question about your logic? Would you describe Dutch Liberals as chauvinistic, backwards looking “separatist movements” because they do to want Union with England?”

    There is a crucial difference between the Netherlands and Scotland. In the Netherlands, people speak Dutch. In Scotland, people speak English.

    Have you noticed that Alec Salmond always speaks standard English? He never even attempts to speak Scottish English. And have you also noticed that Nicola Sturgeon, who comes from Irvine, speaks standard English without a trace of the very distinctive Ayrshire accent?

    There are no genetic differences between the English and the Scots, there are no significant linguistic differences, and there are few cultural or religious differences. So what is the point of Scottish nationalism? No-one has ever been able to give me a coherent answer to that question.

    David Evans,

    I did say, as I have said many times, that Nick Clegg has done the party huge damage. If he has damaged the party in England, then he has damaged it in Scotland, too. What I dispute is that the additional part of the damage can be attributed to Mr Clegg.

    You are right to point to the collapse of Tory support in Scotland under John Major. That was due mainly to an older generation of Orange and rural working-class Tories dying out. Populists like Teddy Taylor and Michael Forsythe bucked the trend for a while, but even they got swept aside. The Tories have never been anti-Scottish (four of their post-war leaders have been Scots), but they have always been anti- working-class, and most of Scotland is working-class.

    The reasons for Labour’s collapse are twofold: (1) the increased appeal of separatism among the urban working-class; and (2) the increased willingness of Roman Catholics to support separation and vote SNP.

    The reason for Liberal Democrat fortunes in Scotland suffering to a far greater degree than in England and Wales is the total failure of our leaders to confront the separatist menace and defeat it. The tendency has been to believe that if you ignore the problem, it might flare up every few years or so, but it would always fade away again, as it did do reliably throughout the latter half of the 20th century. Sorry, a malign political philosophy has to be confronted and defeated. That is what the Liberal Democrats in Scotland have failed to do. Our MPs have been far to wishy-washy.

    Labour kept the SNP at bay for decades by appealing to working-class solidarity. It was crude, but it worked. However, the SNP has now managed to get round it by pretending to be more left-wing than Labour. One wonders how Jim Murphy, a right-wing Blairite, is going to deal with this. Well, that’s Labour’s problem, you might say. But is it just Labour’s problem? No, it will be everyone’s problem, if Labour’s failings allow a substantial contingent of people committed to dismembering our country holding the balance of power in the UK Parliament.

  • @sesenco

    “So what is the point of Scottish nationalism? No-one has ever been able to give me a coherent answer to that question.”

    Because you are asking the wrong question. It is self-determination which is at stake in the quest for independence not some ethnic or linguistic nationalism. You might as well ask why Ireland wanted independence. Answer: control of their own affairs.

  • Self determination of whom? I don’t accept that an imaginary line drawn over the Cheviots as a result of a battle 500 years ago makes someone in Gretna a different “nation” to someone in Carlisle, it’s simply gerrymandering to get power. The SNP then use this idea of a “nation” to get people to vote for them by making themselves synonymous with the state, hence voting against them is voting against their identity, an identity which the SNP have created! It’s how nationalism always works, it’s pathetic flag waving in a world where we should work together to solve the many problems we face.

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