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Wings Over Scotland

The cliff edge

Posted on March 01, 2013 by

Further to our piece of earlier this morning, we present some chilling numbers for your information. They’re some of the votes cast in the last UK general election, in 2010.


(NOTE: No suggestions whatsoever of any kind of moral equivalence between the various parties named below are intended or should be inferred.)


UKIP plus BNP plus English Democrats: 1,548,618 votes (no seats)


SNP plus Plaid Cymru plus Greens (including Scottish Greens) plus Sinn Fein plus DUP plus SDLP plus Respect: 1,475,792 votes (26 seats)

The observation isn’t about any of the parties named above – it would require quite a stretch of imagination to find common ground between the Scottish Greens and the DUP. It’s merely an illustration of the fine margins under the horrifically undemocratic “first past the post” electoral system between no Parliamentary representation at all and a significantly-sized block of MPs.

Anyone on the British left rejoicing at the prospect of UKIP splitting the Tory vote would be advised to examine the bigger picture, and to do so with a stiff drink to hand.

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29 to “The cliff edge”

  1. Alex Grant

    The UKIP vote splitting the English right could be good for the YES campaign. Despite your accurate comment about the effects of first past the post it could start to mean that the Scottish Labour seats which you have accurately portrayed as largely irrelevant for Westminster, could change?? Of course this could could work for or against YES. In the latter case the Tories might be willing to do a Scottish deal to get rid of Scottish Labour’s seats???

  2. Macart

    There is a huge vacuum in English politics and a huge disenfranchisement between politicians and the electorate. The scary thing about vacuums is that eventually something will attempt to fill the gap. In this case right and far right belief systems. People are angry and lashing out electorally there is no tick box saying none of the above and no politicians with anything like the ideals or vision of days long gone for Westminster. I actually feel quite sorry for the neighbours, I have an awfy feeling about the way they are headed.
    Thankfully we can take a distinctly different path. Just vote YES.

  3. Xercies

    I just really wish there was a chance for us to go, Hang on a minute I don’t want those right and far right people I want the kind of people that are in Scotland! Its looking more and more attractive to move there shame there might not be any jobs for me since most of the ones I want are in London.

  4. Macart

    We do have a fairly decent team running the show here and boy are we thankful. As for the decent jobs part………… give us a few years after independence, we’re working on it. 🙂

  5. james morton

    You forgetting voter geopgraphy – the numbers voted might be on a par with one another, but the voter spread means that one side has its votes concetrated in enough areas that they make a difference. The other is far too spread out, so spread out in fact that even in a P-rep voting system, they probably would not get much for their vote.

  6. Rev. Stuart Campbell

    “You forgetting voter geography”

    I’m not forgetting it. It’s the reason UKIP have no MPs now despite getting hundreds of thousands of votes more than the SNP and the other parties who DO have MPs. But the notion that their vote is significantly spread out to the point that adding another 600,000 to it couldn’t get them some seats is fanciful. It’s concentrated largely in Tory areas, and probably in not THAT many more seats than the number the SNP contests, certainly not by an order of magnitude.

    More to the point, Eastleigh shows that their POTENTIAL vote is far larger than what they got in 2010.

  7. Rabb

    Macart says:
    1 March, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    We do have a fairly decent team running the show here and boy are we thankful. As for the decent jobs part………… give us a few years after independence, we’re working on it.
    And your more than welcome to join us 🙂

  8. scottish_skier

    Scary that UKIP can pull of such a high share of the vote. Better Together as racist xenophobes it would seem.

    Good that it’s all over the papers.

    ‘Right-wing racists make major breakthrough in UK politics’ is what people in Scotland are currently reading the headlines as.
    Now whether UKIP voters return home to the Tories or not on 2015 polling day is less important as that’s after 2014.

    Instead having UKIP on 28% of the vote in polls would be death for the union. Can you imagine the effect of headlines saying ‘UKIP projected to take XX seats’ in the papers? Certainly, the fact they came close today is likely to encourage support for them. Poll boost likely.

    Either way, this is a further disaster EU-wise for better together and, with the boundary changes stuffed and now this, Cameron really, really needs shot of Scotland.

  9. Frances

    This is a great article in today’s Guardian. 

    It seems the EU are less than happy with Mr Cameron’s plans.

  10. Chic McGregor

    Not sure George Galloway would accept the epithet nationalist for him or his party.  In fact he is died in the wool unionist is he not?
    Is UKIP nationalist?  I suppose wanting to leave the EU could be described as that, but wasn’t he up here recently saying he didn’t want independence for England?
    However your comparison in terms different number of seats gained, whatever that identifiable group is, is a valid one.  In a truly PR set up, each group would gain its pro rata share of seats.
    But I am not sure if under the d Hondt/FPTP combination used in Scotland those small (relative to England’s population) levels of support would fare any better.  It depends on demographic. 
    There would be approx 70 regional lists of 8 constituencies.  I presume UKIP is the biggest party and what 1 million votes?  So if they were evenly spread that would give a bit less than 15,000 votes per list which I don’t think would gain them any list seats given the larger size of average constituency in England.  But it could produce some list seats if there are higher concentrations in some list areas.
    STV they would fair better because I suspect a lot of Tory voters might place them second.

  11. cath

    “shame there might not be any jobs for me since most of the ones I want are in London.”
    There might be post independence.
    Actually I think if I was living in England and terrified of a Tory/UKIP alliance, I’d be tempted to move up to Scotland now and aid the process of having a bolt hole of sanity to escape to if it happened 🙂

  12. Gaavster

    This is a wee bit O/T but kind of ties back to the general tone of the conversations being had over the past wee while…
    I received this link to Money Week magazine, advertising granted , and they want me to subscribe to 3 free issues, etc, etc but I was drawn in by the headline ‘The End of Britain’ and then watched the attached…
    Taken at face value, there is some really good stuff that can be used by those of us who want to see something different for Scotland, but the overall picture that these experts are painting about the future of UK plc can only be described as ‘bleak’, and it is extremely worrying the fate that may befall us if we don’t get out when we can…
    In fact, the arguments they are advancing make me worry a wee bit that it might already be too late…
    I’m doing my best not to be over dramatic, but it has had a wee effect on me
    Anyways, here’s the link…

  13. muttley79

    @Scottish Skier
    Maybe we should not be surprised that UKIP are doing well in England.  There is the theory that in economc depressions or difficulties people go right-wing in terms of political outlook.  As England has a far bigger population than Scotland there is always the potential for greater political dislocation (although it can happen in small countries as well).  I think Thatcherism has left a legacy of almost political loathing in Scotland for right-wing free market politics.  I have sure it exists in parts of England, particularly Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle etc, but they do not have a institution like the Scottish Parliament, in which to channel their distaste for right-wing, extreme right-wing politics.

  14. Les Wilson

    O/T Sorry just had to alert to another thing.
    I do not know who amonst readers read ” Moneyweek” financial magazine. I do subscribe as some of it is interesting. However in recent issues there has been ant ( what I would call it ) a political viewpoint being directed at Scotland, one that I do not see has relevance in a “Financial” magazine.
    There was a comment 4-5 issues previous about how house prices particularly the higher priced ie the New Town was mentioned would be sure to fall. This was a week or so after it was stated by Estate Agents that £1 Million+ properties were at an all time high in Edinburgh.?
    Then in another recent issue there was negative editorial of Scottish Independence, with no Financial comment. ?
    Today’s issue takes the cake. basically they said Scotland should not use the £, but have it’s own currency. They went onto say that then England could entice all our financial Business to relocate to England, where they would pick up the jobs, they would see doing this as an “opportunity”. Basically to belittle Scotland and steal our jobs, and of course this would hurt our economy.
    I made up an email and tried to send it to the editor, it says the address was wrong, but it was not, I doubly checked it. So they are blocking it. Obviously to avoid the flak. 
    Anyway, I wanted to alert STU and readers just how large this “Unionist Conspiracy ” is becoming, and how badness can erupt in the Unionist ranks.
    I could not get to them, maybe some others here can?

  15. Gaavster

    I don’t subscribe Les, I just got the link in my inbox and watched it
    I have sat on it for over a week without doing anything, then thought I should share it here as perhaps some of it is pertinent to where we find ourselves 

    Thanks for your insights

  16. scottish_skier

    Let’s see. Moneyweek are predicting the end of the world as we know it, yet you need to pay for them to tell you how to save yourself?

    I’ve some across such people before. They normally run cults and prey on the weak of mind to extract cash from them.
    All they’re doing is taking what everyone knows, making it sound really, really scary (it is worrying, but no need to go hide under the bed), then asking for your credit card details. Nuff said.

    Quite. 28% for what is essentially a fascist party is scary. 10%, even 20% you might take as protest in such situations; nearly 30% is quite unusual.  The problem is, Mr Farage comes across well in speeches/is a good orator and knows how to prey on fears. He’s worryingly good (if you are English anyway).

    Here we are in a situation where Labour ruined the economy, then the Tories come back in and far from correcting things, are making it even worse. The public have completely lost faith in the main 3 parties and are lashing out.

    They’ve been led to believe it’s all Europe’s fault and masses of immigrants are flooding Britain to take their jobs, benefits etc. UK parties and the media have of course created this situation by historically stoking such myths to deflect blame away from them for Britain’s failings. Now the chickens are coming home to roost it appears.

    I agree that there are many on the left in England that are in an increasingly hopeless situation. However, what worried me about Eastliegh is was not just Tory voters that went to UKIP, but Labour and lib dem voters too.

    The problem in such situations is that people who are desperate for some change, for things to be fixed, can often overlook the darker side of a nasty party like UKIP. This can lead to the Martin-Niemöller type situation…

    First they came for the immigrants,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t an immigrant…

    I was talking to some people on a forum who support UKIP. Bar being Tories, they are normal people. However, many seemed to be completely blanking the obvious racism of UKIP and instead kept on about the ‘need for democracy’ ‘taking back powers from Europe’ instead; something Mr Farage sells to great effect. That is very worrying.

  17. Xercies

    Its funny because most of the powers that Cameron and UKIP hate are probably the things that the public would love like the Bankers Bonus cap and the more regulation of the City.
    Also I’ve always wondered ever since people said all the powers are in the EU what exactly are the powers the EU have over us and how exactly are we just rubber stampers. To be honest i do think a lot of that stuff is probably bull but i do wonder where these people get there figures from.
    “Actually I think if I was living in England and terrified of a Tory/UKIP alliance, I’d be tempted to move up to Scotland now and aid the process of having a bolt hole of sanity to escape to if it happened ”
    I actually shivered when I read that line, i would move the the North Pole just to get away from that!

  18. Barontorc

    What both of these posters are talking about is the tone of the article – which takes 45 minutes out of your life, to listen to – but the tenor of the piece is that BRITAIN is bust, there’s no mention anywhere of Scotland, or it’s influence in, or out of the UK scene and to me it is a valid piece of reporting. The facts, if they are correct is that UK PLC is in an irrecoverable situation with debt and the only way forward is to drastically increase interest rates.
    It was a tawdry end piece to then insinuate readers into taking out a subscription – but if these facts are any where near the truth of it – Scotland should not only seek independence but indeed, assume no further liability for the chronic mess rUK is in – a shit-storm not of our doing!  

  19. James Morton

    @revstu said “But the notion that their vote is significantly spread out to the point that adding another 600,000 to it couldn’t get them some seats is fanciful.”
    Actually its not that fanciful at all. If you consider the GE in scotland – vote share between lib-dems and the tories was in the 400k mark. The lib dems having marginally more, but not much. The lib dems have 10 moe seats in Scotland than the poor old tories sitting with one. If the vote share is too spread over too large an area (and the UK is a large area), a party can simply find itself locked out by the party whose vote share is considerably more concentrated. Look at Ruth Davidsons campaign in Glasgow north. She lost but claimed a “credible 3rd place” she may well have been third, but her vote was only 1,500, labour was sitting comfy with considerably more, and even then turn out was pretty low. There may be 400k voters as they like to boast, but they clearly aren’t living in the central belt thats for sure. There is a finite number of voters, the core vote is too small, so they have to appeal to the floating voter or a disaffected voter. But even then the swing needed is quite high. So UKIP getting 600k votes is not enough in itself, its getting that 600k in the right wards were the swing is sufficient to let them in.
    But as you say this is besides the point. The real issue is the underlying trend, even if it was a protest vote, it clearly hints at a shift further to the right in England. What will be of interest is how the main westminster parties cope with this.

  20. Albert Herring

    It’s a sales letter. You can save yourself from financial Armageddon by subscribing to the magazine.
    I actually did subscribe to try out the 3 free issues, but then cancelled of course. 
    ps I’ll save you the bother. The magic answers are: 1. Buy gold, 2. Reinvest dividends, 3. Invest in Japan – it’s cheap apparently! Simples.

  21. CameronB

    @ Xercies
    Power tends to take the form of legal authority. In the context of Europe, EU law holds primacy over national law, and has done since the early ’60s. The EU Commission decides what legislation will be debated in the EU Parliament, and subsequently translated in to law. The Commission is not a democratically elected body.

  22. Barontorc

    Albert Herring says – ….’The magic answers are: 1. Buy gold, 2. Reinvest dividends, 3. Invest in Japan – it’s cheap apparently! Simples…..’
    The question is – is there just a modicum of responsibility heading UK Gov’s way for  clearing the truly humongous UK national debt that our present day GDP will not even look at apart from paying its interest off and should Scotland in independence be saddled with it? YES or NO?

  23. Gaavster

    @S_S- Agree with your ‘Armageddon, show us the money synopsis’, but at the same time for me anyway, they also presented a lot of salient points that deserve a wider audience in terms of the indy debate… Call it an alternative vision of the status quo if you like…
    @Barontorc  – It resonated with me too and whilst it may have taken 45mins out of my life it also drove home to me what life in Scotland ‘could’ be like if we remain tethered to this parasitical union…  
    @Albert – Thanks for the tips, no need for me to get the plastic out now then… I did point out it was an advert in my opening gambit, a disturbing vision of an advert at that, but I put it out there to let people draw their own conclusions

  24. scottish_skier

    The Commission is not a democratically elected body.

    It does not need to be; it can’t pass laws, only propose them to the parliament (democratically elected) and council for potential passing into law. It then implements these if they are passed.

    The commission is made up of one member (commissioner) from each country in the EU. Scotland would have one if independent. Britain of course has one right now.

    The Commission is essentially represents ‘the EU‘ independent from individual states (although composed of their representatives equally). The idea is it acts in the interests of the whole.

    The Council of Europe represents EU nation governments. Again one per state, so Scotland would be there and could chair it as Ireland is doing right now. 

    The European Parliament represents European citizens. Democratically elected with smaller countries more largely represented to even things up.

    It has its problems, but it’s not particularly undemocratic. Far more democratic than the UK union anyway. 

    By joining you are devolving a degree of sovereignty (you can take that back by leaving). But how could you not and so is everyone else.

    If Tories hate it, it must have some good points anyway 😉

  25. CameronB

    Its a very confusing world and I don’t want to come across as “hard of thinking”, but how can the democratic process flow from a non-democratic body, i.e. The Commission? It is the Commission that sets the scope of the democratic debate. Who influences this process is any ones guess, as far as I can see.
    Its not a particularly relevant question to 2014, but I think it is worth asking. As far as more democracy coming from Brussels than Westminster, you wont get an argument from me. But I would see that as an indictment of Westminster, rather than positive justification for the EU. The EU is still the terrible twin to NATO, and is crucial to the continued advance of Atlantacism and neo-liberal orthodoxy.
    Yes, the Tories hate it so it can’t be all bad. Good point. But doesn’t smack get you high the first few times?
    Vote Yes in 2014.

  26. scottish_skier

    I’m generally pro-EU in concept BTW, but share concerns about it; more because it invariably takes power further from people/can seem distant. However, that is unavoidable to some extent if you are to create such a free trade/freedom of movement entity.

    I’d not be terribly concerned about Scotland not being in the EU; most countries are not and do just fine (I’m a big fan of Norway, especially since visiting with work). However I do think the EU has some benefits.

    I’m more concerned about the UK union and would like Scotland to stay in the EU initially as that makes the most sense. However, if this longer term seemed to on balance not be good for Scotland, then I’d be happy enough advocating withdrawal.

    The funny thing about the whole ‘the EU is terrible’ right-wing stuff is that if that is really the case, why are countries not all leaving? At the same time though, while it may have helped curb the worst excesses of thatcherism, the Norwegian opinion that the EU was ‘not left wing enough for them’ can be considered true in some respects.

    In my opinion its a decision for the people of Scotland to take as appropriate post independence.

  27. CameronB

    Agreed, we just need to grasp the power to control our future direction. Any suggestions on how to double or treble your vote through the postal system? 🙂
    Vote Yes in 2014.

  28. Tamson

    I think there’s a very real possibility now that the 2015 UK General Election will throw out a truly farcical result. Eastleigh suggests 2 things: UKIP are going to get a significant percentage of votes, and the Lib Dems won’t crash in England quite as badly as they did in Holyrood in 2011. Add into that the fact that Labour and the Tory percentages in the polls will narrow: once people look at the 2 Eds and realise they aren’t any better than David & George, they might stick with what they’ve got.
    It’s reckoned that the current seat distributions in England favour Labour: the Tories would have to outpoll Labour by something like 6% to get the same number of seats. The last 2 elections have demonstrated this: the Conservatives actually got 60000 more votes than Labour in England in 2005, but got 92 fewer MPs. In 2010, were there an England-only parliament, the Tories would have a majority of about 60 (they were 10% ahead in the England-only vote).
    With UKIP votes effectively taking seats off the Tories as well, the voting system could skew the result badly in favour of Labour. The prospect of Miliband winning a majority despite polling less votes than the Tories is there. After all, 2 post-war General Elections have already managed that. Heath beat Wilson on votes in February 74, but got 5 fewer MPs. And Atlee beat Churchill in 1951 by a quarter of a million votes, yet Churchill got a majority of 17.

  29. kininvie

    1) Moneyweek: It has been predicting Armageddon for years. It’s how it sells itself. Its recommendations are not always wrong, but, by and large, you are dealing with skilled carpet salesmen. Anyone worried about their financial future would do much better to learn for themselves through any number of respected websites.
    2) The electoral arithmetic concerning UKIP is of less importance than the pressure now on all the English parties to move towards an anti-EU, anti-immigrant stance. This rightwards, populist movement in England would objectively be a disaster for Scotland, which needs both immigrants and the single market.

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