Friday, 25 July 2008

Glasgow East: The aftermath




That last post was a great way to celebrate my 100th blog entry. But there's more.

John Mason MP won the Glasgow East by-election on a swing of 22.54% from Labour to the SNP. Of course that is the kind of swing you only get in by-elections. When Labour won the 1997 election in a landslide victory over the Tories, they (only) gained a swing of 8.8%. Of course that was enough to win 418 seats in the House of Commons. But let me indulge in a little fantasy for a moment.

Were that 22.54% swing replicated across Scotland in a General Election (I know - I just said it - it's not likely, but let's look anyway...) it would give the following result:

SNP - 49 (!)
Lib Dem - 7
Lab - 2 (I'm giving the Speaker's seat to Labour... generously)
Con - 1

On that basis, Labour would lose a staggering 37 seats to the SNP with only Tom Clarke (Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill) and the Speaker Michael Martin returning as Labour MPs. This would include losing PM Gordon Brown, Chancellor Alastair Darling and Cabinet Secretary Des Browne.

Which would - arguably - be a bigger meltdown than the Tories in 1997, who lost all 11 of their MPs.

Now there are several caveats.

First, a 22% swing is not likely. As I said, even in 1997 Labour only managed 8.8%. If Gordon Brown is as unpopular as the 1990s Conservative Government we may be looking at a swing in the region of 8-12%. Maybe even 14% at a stretch. But that depends on several things - not least Brown getting more unpopular (which could happen...).

Second, I can't for the life of me see the Tories only winning one seat. If they are to form the next UK Government (which looks fairly likely at this point) you'd be looking at them winning between 5-10 seats, probably nearer 5 than 10.

Third, I also can't see the Lib Dems winning 7 seats with no substantial change in their leadership/ policies/ dullness.

But other than that, a sizeable swing is definately on the cards, assuming the SNP continue to fare as well at Holyrood. Probably looking at winning 13 seats from Labour - which would make the target of 20 seats fairly do-able.

More later...

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