The Tories will not be the only party to collapse on Thursday, so prepare for another election very soon…north of the border

by Rob Marchant

Britain’s national media are naturally focused on the story of the day, the Tories’ disastrous polling and the perhaps worse signals given by their own campaign teams.

These include the apparent writing off of any Tory seats with majorities more than 10,000 for head-office help and diverting these resources to other seats, including some ministerial seats with majorities of more than double that. Defending majorities of this size is essentially unheard of in the modern era of “key seat” campaigning, practiced by all major parties.

But north of the border, a second story – in its way, as momentous as the Tories’ – is rumbling. The palpable slump in support for the SNP implies not merely that they will lose a chunk of their Westminster seats, but that they are likely to be heartily trounced and that Scottish Labour would end up being the largest party in Scotland.

For a party which has now been in power for seventeen years – three more than the Tories – next Thursday is shaping up to be a huge turning point.

Uncut predicted back in May that the SNP is going to lose badly, and its numbers have not improved in the slightest. The Electoral Calculus site is showing them with a predicted 18 seats remaining – a slashing by nearly two-thirds from the original 48 in 2019 – and they could still go as low as 7.

Credit where it’s due: compared to his dreadful predecessor, the Corbynite Richard Leonard, Anas Sarwar has made a reasonable fist so far of being Scottish leader, (if we can gloss over his risking the wrath of Scottish women by having to be dragged kicking and screaming into protecting their single-sex spaces). But the real story is not so much Scottish Labour’s renaissance, but just how fed-up Scottish voters are with the out-of-touch incumbents.

The lack of connection the SNP has been demonstrating with the public for some time is lately starting to degenerate into a desperate, “last days of Rome” vibe, with any semblance of good judgement gone right out of the window. First Minister Swinney in yellow sports car and his campaign team all in yellow sunglasses, anyone? Whoever is advising the SNP on election media has clearly got their mind already on their next gig.

Indeed, the hapless Swinney (who replaced the even-more-hapless Yousaf two months ago) may end up being the shortest-lived ever in the role: it is worth thinking about what is likely to happen in Scotland on the 5th of July, seemingly rather overlooked in the enormous Tory-Labour switching story now dominating the headlines.

The first thing that will happen, in the event that the SNP loses half its seats or more, is that Swinney will surely have to resign and be replaced by another leader, quite possibly Kate Forbes, as perhaps the only big name left to challenge for it.

But that will surely not be the end of the matter: a huge tail-off in Westminster support would leave the legitimacy of its already-minority Scottish government in tatters, and its collapse only a matter of time. A wise Scottish Labour party organisation must already be anticipating an early general election.

A Labour government in Westminster, working hand in glove with a Scottish Labour government in Holyrood, has got to be the best chance the Union has had in nearly two decades: not only to revitalise Scotland from the dead hand of the SNP incumbents, but to neutralise the corrosive, grievance politics of its current incarnation. For a good few years, at least.

Rob Marchant is an activist and former Labour party manager who blogs at The Centre Left

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