What will the local election and AV referendum results mean for Britain? Experts from all camps weigh inby Prospect / May 3, 2011 / Leave a comment
Published in May 2011 issue of Prospect Magazine
Welcome to Prospect’s local elections and referendum blog, running before and after polling day on 5th May. Writing here will be a range of figures from all parties and none, including:
Ian Birrell, former speechwriter to David Cameron
Olly Grender, former Lib Dem director of communications
Michael Dugher, former No 10 special adviser and now Labour MP for Barnsley East
Peter Kellner, head of YouGov
David Goodhart, Prospect editor at large
FRIDAY 6TH MAY
WHAT SALMOND NEEDS FOR INDEPENDENCE by Peter Kellner
Will the second shoe now drop for the SNP? Their big ambition is to hold and win a referendum on independence. This aim was thwarted during their first four years in office, because they did not have enough MSPs to get a referendum bill through the Scottish parliament. Now Alex Salmond’s party has an overall majority (that is, at least, what the BBC is projecting as I write this), the first shoe has dropped: he has the votes to make sure a referendum really happens.
But what about the second shoe—victory in such a referendum? This is far less certain. This evening we are certain to hear that we have voted to keep first-past-the-post for electing MPs. And the story of the past few weeks has been the story of most referendums round the world when there is no consensus for change: as decision day approaches, the appeal of the status quo grows stronger.
So, if Alex Salmond is to win a referendum on independence, I reckon he needs polls at the start of the campaign to show at least 60 per cent backing for breaking away from the rest of Britain, in order to have a cushion against the likelihood of a rise during the campaign in the status-quo, anti-independence vote.
No poll has ever shown such a level of enthusiasm for independence. The latest YouGov survey, last month, found a two-to-one majority against breaking away from the Union. The SNP won yesterday because of Salmond’s personal appeal, a weak Labour campaign, and the collapse in support for the Liberal Democrats—not because of a vast Scottish appetite to break up the Union.