Friday, 22 May 2009

New seats - excellent!

I've just been having a look at the boundary commission's final proposals for Holyrood constituencies and regions and I'd like to say - it's excellent news!

Here in Edinburgh it puts the SNP ahead in North and Leith where we join Edinburgh East - not as big a margin of comfort in the North as in the East, but still ahead, with Labour in second place. Edinburgh Central becomes a marginal the SNP against Labour and the new seat formed from Midlothian and Musselburgh should see another SNP Member returned.

To the west, the Linlithgow seat seems to have strengthened and, with the excellent campaigning team that Fiona Hyslop has there, it should come back as another SNP seat - Fiona returned as a constituency MSP. That seat, of course, goes off to another region under the proposals and it's a wee shame to see it go but the other constituencies in the new East Central Scotland region will be delighted to have that campaigning edge and that substantial voter base added to their efforts.

East Lothian, of course, gets added to the Lothian region and that's an interesting wee number, with Labour's vote having been on a downward slope since 1999:

1999 - 51%
2003 - 44%
2007 - 35%

The swing from Labour to the SNP in 2007 was about 10%, the gap is now just 7%, Labour has internal difficulties there, some of which are clearly visible, and it could be a side bet worth taking. To lose one Scottish Parliament seat after a single term might be considered unfortunate ...
Livingston looks like it will be held with a wee degree of comfort (but no complacency), and if all of this came to pass it would give the SNP six constituency seats across the region - which is a major improvement on 2007. There might be additional interest created as well with the collapse of Lib Dem support across Edinburgh - in Edinburgh West in particular where both the SNP and the Conservatives area taking large bites out of the Lib Dem vote. Whether it will be enough to take the seat away from the Lib Dems and which party it will be that leaps past them remains to be seen.

That strengthening of the Conservative vote at the expense of the Lib Dems should secure David McLetchie's seat for him, and it brings the new Southside seat into play. Labour isn't picking up any of the Lib Dem votes as they drift away, so Southside could be a four-way contest. Very interesting - and we should know more about how things are going to pan out after the European election.

Up in Angus the new seat created as a result of population growth appears to be in Nationalist heartlands and should deliver us another SNP MSP, and my friends in the North should be confident of removing Mike Rumbles and Nicol Stephen.
Ochil and Stirling look in fine fettle (even if the name of Ochil has changed), Clydesdale is winnable for us, I think, and Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale will turn black and gold as well.

On top of the boundary changes there will be four years of good government as a running record for the SNP and Labour's recession will still be biting. If the Conservatives are in Government in London by then (as looks likely, let's be honest) they'll be having to deal with the enormous economic migraine which caused Standard & Poor's to downgrade the UK outlook and warn that "last month's budget announcements underscored that U.K. public finances are deteriorating rapidly" and that ratings could be affected if the problem isn't sorted.
There will be seats changing hands at the UK general election - the return of the Conservatives to strength presaging a collapse in the Lib Dem vote and a massive internal battle for Labour. Labour losing the UK election will leave them in meltdown - the New Labour project destroyed the base of the Labour party, driving many of their traditional activists and most of their philosophically minded members away, leaving an empty parody of the previous incarnation of Labour - a bell with no tongue.
The picture leading into 2011 could be of a Conservative party having returned to former glories in England but not quite having made the same transformation in Scotland; a Labour party that has lost all sense of itself and forgotten its heritage fighting internal battles over the dry bones of a once vibrant organisation; a Lib Dem brigade which no longer has a purpose or a point to its existence; and the SNP, having demonstrated how to govern Scotland in Scotland's interest and deal with a Cameron Government on an equal footing, is strong and identified with putting Scotland's case.
There will be opportunities for the SNP to advance, but there will also be opportunities for the other parties. A truly Scottish Conservative party or a truly Scottish Labour party would have the freedom to demonstrate that they, too, can offer a vision for Scotland. A party which actually offers liberalism would be a welcome addition to the mix, and surely there's room for the Greens to hang on in there. Scottish politics could be about to change enormously in the next few years (it might not, of course, but the possibility is there).

In the meantime, look at those fantastic boundaries!


subrosa said...

Great news Calum. Thanks for the analysis, I don't know Edinburgh that well.

Jim said...

That Tony Blair fella looks like he's onto something with the prescription charges and the abomination that is Trident.