Tom Rees writes for the University of Nottingham’s Impact Magazine on the possible implications of Scottish independence for Labour:
Westminster can at times feel a million miles away from Holyrood, Edinburgh. Alienation from central governance has been a frustration that has hung for a long time over a nation arguing against its raw economic deal. Currently SNP leader Alex Salmond’s argument for independence has swayed just 28% of Scots, but it is an issue that will inevitably entice more Scots closer to the referendum in 2014. While it would undoubtedly alter Scotland massively, it’s the potential shift in English politics that could prove to be the most substantial outcome from Scottish independence.
Simple electoral maths highlight the starkest consequences of separation to the Labour party. Without Labour’s 41 seats won in Scotland in 2010, the Conservatives would have had the chance to govern alone with a majority in Parliament. Ironically, it was Labour who introduced devolution to Scotland and Wales, probably in the hope of channeling any nationalist sentiment into the new parliaments that were long overdue after centralised rule in Westminster since 1707. While the less feisty Welsh Parliament is largely dormant, the Scottish Parliament has given a platform to SNP leader Alex Salmond who has voiced the opinion that Scotland should decide its economic policy, not Whitehall.
It has struck a chord with Scots disillusioned with the heavy centralisation of power and the general conduct of Westminster. The 2011 Scottish Parliament election only confirmed this when the SNP’s support increased by an unprecedented 12.5%. Labour’s disastrous showing not only led to the resignation of the Scottish Labour Party leader Iain Gray but also gave the SNP a majority in a parliament that was meant to encourage compromise and coalition not usher in a referendum on its very existence in the union. The self-inflicted nature of this problem is only heightened by the fact that at the 2010 General Election Scotland was the only part of the country in which Labour’s vote held up against its opponents. It kept all its seats in Scotland, whereas other Labour strongholds such as Wales and heavily urbanised English areas such as Greater Manchester and London saw large Conservative gains…
Full article here.