Posts Tagged ‘Party politics and elections’

Five reasons to vote in a safe seat

Why bother to vote in a safe seat, knowing your vote won’t make a difference to that constituency’s outcome? Jonathan Birch offers five key reasons why voting makes a difference to the legitimacy and stability of parliamentary democracy, even when individual seats don’t change hands.

Elections can be pretty demoralising if you live in a safe seat. Where I live, in Mid Sussex, the Conservatives have a majority of almost 20,000 and have held the seat since its creation in 1974. The outcome is a foregone conclusion. Nothing happens, no one visits. You’re lucky to get a single leaflet.

If I lived in a marginal seat, I’d have a realistic chance, albeit a very small one, of making a difference. In the 1997 election, the seat of Winchester was decided by a margin of 2 votes, so it was literally true that every vote for the winning candidate mattered. This happens every now and then in marginals. But not in safe seats.

The Electoral Reform Society estimates that over half the seats in the UK are safe, in the sense that the outcome is not in any serious doubt. Ideally, we’d have some sort of proportional representation that would give my vote a chance of influencing who gets elected. But we don’t. I know that the outcome of the election will be unaffected by my vote.

So why vote at all? Why bother when you know your vote won’t matter? I’m sure this is one big reason why, in every election, around 30-40% of eligible voters don’t vote. But I think there are still reasons to vote, in spite of our flawed electoral system. Here are five.

1: The seat might not be as safe as you think

We live in volatile times. In the 2017 election, some seats turned out to be far more competitive than anyone expected. One example is Canterbury, which had been held by the Conservatives since its creation (as a constituency) in 1918. Propelled by the student population, Labour overturned a majority of almost 10,000 from two years earlier. In recent years, Labour has lost all of its ‘safe seats’ in Scotland with the rise of the Scottish Nationalists. In 2017, they even lost Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath, which had a majority of 23,000 in 2010. These things happen. But they don’t happen very often.

2: To influence your MP’s behaviour

Even in a safe seat, your vote counts towards the totals for each party, so it can make the seat a tiny bit safer or a tiny bit less safe. This makes no difference, you might think: the same MP is elected either way. But the behaviour of the MP will be influenced by the safety of their seat.

MPs in safe seats are under no serious pressure to deliver benefits to their constituents. They might be diligent MPs anyway, but they are not compelled to be. If they want, they can skip votes and debates and spend their time doing after-dinner speeches, serving on company boards, indulging in schemes and plots for their own advancement, and so on. By contrast, an MP defending a tiny majority has a motivation to work hard.

Moreover, an MP in a safe seat can also happily follow the party whip, even if the party line harms their own constituency. By contrast, MPs in marginals often feel much greater pressure to put their own constituents before party loyalty. Brexit has given us some interesting examples. Many of the most high-profile Labour rebels over Brexit—e.g. John Mann, John Woodcock, Ruth Smeeth, Gareth Snell, Caroline Flint, Jon Cruddas, Gloria De Piero—are in vulnerable, pro-Leave marginals.

It might occasionally be a good thing for an MP to feel able to oppose the interests of their constituents. Sometimes, we might want our MPs to vote in the national interest, setting aside the interests of the people of one small area. But this is the exception rather than the rule.

3: To make future elections more (or less) competitive

Parties invest their resources according to how competitive they think a seat is. In a safe seat, you will see few leaflets, few signs, few activists and probably no candidates. Once a party starts regarding a seat as a serious target, they start to have a chance of taking it, even though the incumbent party will also start campaigning more vigorously.

You might want your seat to be more competitive next time, if you oppose the incumbent party. Or you might want your seat to become less competitive, if you support the incumbent party. Either way, your vote will make a difference to the seat’s competitiveness, and that will make a difference to the atmosphere surrounding future elections.

4: To influence national vote share

The effect of your vote on the parties’ national vote share is minuscule. But you might conceivably tip your party over some significant threshold: from 39.9% to 40.0%, for example. Because we don’t have proportional representation, the national vote share officially makes no difference. But it does make a difference to the perceived legitimacy of a government. Governments in this country are usually elected with a minority vote share, but the smaller the minority, the worse this looks. When Labour was elected in 1997 on a 43% vote share, I don’t remember anyone complaining about their legitimacy or using the result as an argument for electoral reform. But when they were re-elected in 2005 on a 35% vote share (a margin of victory of less than 3%), people did complain, and it did strengthen the argument for electoral reform.

5: To help keep democracy alive

Turnout matters because it affects the legitimacy and stability of parliament, the government, and all the institutions of a democracy. Imagine turnout fell to 35%. What kind of democracy would we have then? What sort of democratic mandate could a government claim for doing anything? The overwhelming message from a general election with a 35% turnout is that democracy is in trouble, and its institutions and parties are not perceived as legitimate. It would be a perilous situation for the whole country.

This isn’t hypothetical: it’s been the actual situation for a long time in elections to the European parliament. One of the problems MEPs have faced for decades is that turnout in European elections is low. The result is that people don’t generally see their MEPs as representing them, or know much about them or what they do, allowing the idea of the EU as ‘undemocratic’ to take root.

So, in a vague kind of way, a vote for any party is a vote of confidence in parliamentary democracy itself. As an individual, your effect on turnout is even less significant than that on national vote share, so the effect is still minuscule. It also cuts both ways. You might want to undermine confidence in a parliament elected by an antiquated electoral system, which would be a reason not to vote. But if you still believe in parliamentary democracy despite everything, you can be comforted by the thought that your vote makes a tiny difference to its legitimacy and stability.

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About the Author

Jonathan Birch is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the LSE.

 

 

 

All articles posted on this blog give the views of the author(s), and not the position of LSE British Politics and Policy, nor of the London School of Economics and Political Science. Featured image credit: Pixabay/Public Domain.

Women and gender in the 2019 party manifestos

Claire Annesley, Francesca Gains, and Anna Sanders offer an overview of manifesto pledges concerning women. They conclude that, while most parties are taking the diversity of women and their interests seriously, it is difficult to judge the value of their offer. 

Half of the electorate are women. Research has consistently shown that women are more likely to be floating voters and to make their minds up on how to vote later than men. Securing women’s votes is increasingly recognised as essential for parties as they seek to consolidate their voting base and capture undecided voters. This is something we have observed in our analyses of the 2015 and 2017 manifesto offers for women.

For the 2019 General Election, we audited the party manifestos of all GB-wide parties to see what they offer women. Quite crudely, we counted the number of times ‘women’ and ‘gender’ were mentioned in each manifesto. This in itself was quite revealing, but by no means tells us the whole story. Some mentions of ‘women’ were just headings, not commitments, and, in the case of the Conservative manifesto, one policy to benefit women was repeated three times.

So we then looked again to identify exactly what is being offered when ‘women’ or ‘gender’ is mentioned, and to which women parties were trying to focus their pitch. This is also imperfect because it only captures manifesto pledges that specifically identify women as beneficiaries or have gender equality as the goal. It does not identify policies that we know would particularly benefit women but are not labelled in that way. For example, Labour’s pledge of a ‘Real Living Wage of at least £10 per hour for all workers’ would be of particular benefit to women as they are more likely to be low paid, but this is not flagged in the manifesto. Caveats aside, here’s what we found.

Which women?

All parties – except Brexit – show a substantial awareness of the need to address women voters directly and in all their diversity. Some policies are clearly intended for all women but many are targeting specific groups. Research shows that age is a particular issue in how women vote, with younger women being more likely to support public spending and oppose austerity. Working women thus receive a fair deal of attention, with the Conservatives focusing on supporting female entrepreneurs and self-employed women. Labour also offers measures to tackle employment protection for pregnant women, and an increase in paid maternity leave to 12 months. The Greens specifically address women of childbearing age with pledges on safe and affordable abortion, free birth control, and high-quality maternity care. There are also some manifesto pitches for older women, such as WASPI women (below).

All parties except Brexit have something to offer vulnerable and marginalised women with commitments to take action on violence against women and girls, pledges to establish misogyny as a hate crime (Greens and Labour), support for women in the criminal justice system (Greens and Lib Dems), and women with learning disabilities (Lib Dems). LGBTQ women are addressed by Labour, Greens, and Lib Dems with commitments to reform the Gender Recognition Act (Labour), remove the spousal veto so that married trans people can acquire their gender recognition certificate without having to obtain permission from their spouse (Lib Dem and Greens), and offer asylum to people fleeing the risk of violence because of their sexual orientation or gender identification (Lib Dems).

Notably, all parties – again except Brexit – address the status of women internationally, offering policies to consider gender equality and women’s empowerment in trade deals (Conservatives), provide funding for women’s grassroots organisations internationally (Labour), ‘increase the proportion of aid paid to individuals through electronic cash transfers, providing regular monthly payments to women in the developing world’ (Greens) and ‘pursue a foreign agenda with gender equality at its heart’ (Lib Dems).

What for women?

All parties – except Brexit – present a detailed programme of how they would reduce gender inequalities that persist in resources and status. Among these are some ‘big ticket items’: costly policies which, along with promises around the level of the minimum wage, tax thresholds, and the extension of free childcare, have a crucial impact on women’s economic independence and security.

  • Brexit: A review of the situation for WASPI women.
  • Conservatives: A promise to fund ‘more’ free childcare; leave for carers extended to one week, and a policy to support pension payments for those earning between 11k and 12k, the majority of whom are women.
  • Greens: Universal Basic Income, a weekly payment for everyone, replacing the current benefits system, starting with WASPI women and phased in for all residents by 2025.
  • Labour: Increasing paid maternity leave from nine to 12 months, doubling paternity leave to four weeks, increasing paternity pay, and extending pregnancy and menopause protection; and full compensation for WASPI women.
  • Liberal Democrats: Free, high-quality childcare for children of working parents from nine months; increased paternity leave to six weeks, and compensation for women affected by pension changes in line with the pension ombudsman report.

As well as the maternity leave benefits listed above, the 2019 manifestos have many more policies relating to ‘status issues’ which directly address inequalities that arise from women’s status as women and bodily integrity, such as abortion rights, actions on violence against women and girls and representation. With the exception of the Brexit Party, all parties in varying degrees address status issues:

  • Conservatives: Pass the Domestic Abuse Bill and pilot domestic abuse courts; continue to tackle violence against women and girls (VAWG); promote women’s empowerment in free trade deals.
  • Green: Reverse funding cuts for women refuges; high-quality maternity care, support for access to abortion and free birth control in the EU; measures to promote diversity in political representation and representation on boards; make misogyny a hate crime and penal reforms to introduce women’s centres; electronic aid payments to women in developing countries.
  • Labour: Protection for pregnant workers and women going through the menopause; introduce a workers protection agency around equal pay; appoint a Commissioner for Violence against Women and recognise misogyny as a hate crime; support for international programmes addressing gender inequality, increased funding women’s grassroots organisations, and an ombudsman to examine abuse in the development sector.
  • Liberal Democrats: 40% board representation; foreign policy agenda with gender equality at the heart; protection for women and girls in trade deals; extend reproductive rights and protect against VAWG; set national target to address early deaths of women with learning disabilities; measures addressing VAWG; introduction of gender neutral uniforms in schools.

Additionally there are some ‘blueprint’ measures. These are policies that address the need for overarching gender equality legislation and administrative or bureaucratic resources to oversee progress on equality. These measures are not ever going to appeal to floating women voters. However, the introduction of ‘blueprint’ policies such as the Equal Pay Act (1974) and the Equality Act (2010) fundamentally and profoundly alter women’s rights and measures of redress. Yet in this area, neither Brexit nor the Conservatives promise such blueprint measures.

  • Greens: Measures to address the gender pay gap.
  • Labour: Establishment of a new Department for Women and Equalities with a full time Secretary of State, a modernised National Women’s Commission; Regulation for large firms on equality measures; action on the gender pay gap.
  • Liberal Democrats: Extend Equality Act to large firms, and action on gender pay gap.

Our view

It is clear for this election, all parties (though not the Brexit Party) are taking the diversity of women and their interests seriously. They are either offering policies which will benefit women and/or promote gender equality, or they are including promises to do so. Yet it is impossible to form a quick judgement on which party will most successfully attract women voters or to assess the value of their offer.

First, some measures are not specifically targeted at women but we know that they will have a beneficial impact on women – not least because women earn less and do more unpaid caring roles. Both Labour’s living wage promise and the Conservatives’ lifting of the National Insurance threshold will make an impact on women’s incomes if implemented, as will the Liberal Democrats’ promise to considerably extend free childcare.

Second, there is a huge difference between the intent described, ranging from commitments to legislate or regulate, to more ambiguous promises to improve, review, or consider. The Conservative manifesto in particular pledges few concrete measures for women but rather many promises to review or consider, without commitments.

Third, there may be growing scepticism among voters about whether manifesto pledges truly lead to concrete action. At the best of times, governments don’t always deliver what is in manifestos and compromise will inevitably have to be made in the event of another hung parliament or coalition. Economic experts are also sceptical about the affordability of party manifestos and voters will be too. As the Resolution Foundation and the IFS point out, both Conservative and Labour will face fiscal problems in implementing their policy promises.

Fourth, we know from previous research that gender equality promises included in Queen’s Speeches from 1945 onwards – such as redistributive benefits, or equal pay measures – do not reach governmental agendas when the economy is not performing well.

Finally, of course, Brexit might continue to trump everything.

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About the Authors

Claire Annesley is Professor of Politics at the University of Sussex.

 

 

 

Francesca Gains is Professor of Public Policy at the University of Manchester.

 

 

Anna Sanders is a Doctoral Candidate at the University of Manchester.

 

 

 

All articles posted on this blog give the views of the author(s), and not the position of LSE British Politics and Policy, nor of the London School of Economics and Political Science. Featured image credit: Pixabay/Public Domain.

A rough guide to key non-party entities in British politics ahead of GE2019

Luke Temple and Ana Ines Langer outline the changing electoral landscape as partisan and non-partisan entities get heavily involved in the general election.

Since 2015 it has been impossible to think about UK elections without considering the role played by digital technology and social media. Political parties are of course desperate to use this technology to win votes. However, the fact this technology is now so common and generally low-cost means there’s been a wider impact on the electoral landscape. Whereas once the key players in elections were well-established – the parties, newspapers and broadcast media, trade unions, business lobbyists – now we are seeing an increasing number of entities getting involved. Some are non-partisan such as voter advice applications and voter registration drives. Others are clearly partisan, even if not always directly associated with a party, ranging from social movements to alternative media, tactical voting sites, and partisan blogs; in 2017 we even saw the computer game ‘Corbyn Run’ and Grime4Corbyn music campaign.

In our research we’ve called these political players ‘entities’ rather than organisations because their structural qualities change so much from one to the other. Some run centrally-organised and highly structured campaigns. Others are loose collectives. A handful are simply individuals with large followings on social media. Some are extremely partisan – primarily supporting Labour, but a few are also Brexit-related. These tend to campaign like ‘satellites’ of the parties, orbiting close enough to take the lead from central campaigns and amplify them, but also pushing their own narratives. Quite how much control – if any – parties have over the message pushed by these outriders is not clear. In contrast, others make attempts to be politically neutral and seek to increase voter registration, turnout, and knowledge.

Whilst the political landscape has seen an enormous rise in the number of these entities that are engaging in electoral activity, researchers actually know little about who they are, what they do, and the impact they have. Few appear to spend enough money to register with the Electoral Commission. Many have small resources and teams and fall dormant outside of elections. Yet voter advice applications and tactical voting websites reported hit numbers during the 2017 election in the millions. In that election, cross-party campaign groups managed to mobilise volunteers and canvassers who are usually put off at the thought of stuffy political party meetings. They possibly played a role in knocking Nick Clegg off his seat in Sheffield Hallam. They will certainly be targeting Boris Johnson.

As the 2019 election gets properly underway, we provide a rough guide to some key partisan and non-partisan entities (although that line too, can be blurry):

Partisan players

Momentum

Now a well-established force in party politics, Momentum was established to support Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership bid in 2015. Perhaps best described as a ‘movement faction’, it seeks to influence Labour Party politics whilst also operating its own campaign strategy. This campaigning includes a considerable social media presence and often uses emojis, memes, and humour, alongside the production of slick campaign videos which often take on a satirical or ironic tone that you won’t see from official party material. During 2017 a number of these videos racked up some of the largest numbers of hits and shares, especially on Facebook. But Momentum is anything but a digital-only organisation: it also organises activist training, canvassing and phone-calling across the country. For what we have seen so far in 2019, Momentum has really stepped up its efforts to facilitate distributed organising both to canvass and to produce shareable online content.

Alt media and other ‘outriders’

In 2017, the left appeared much more co-ordinated in this space with a number of left-leaning and pro-Corbyn citizen media organisations highly active on Facebook and Twitter, including Evolve, The Canary, Novara Media and Skwawkbox, as well as bloggers such as Another Angry Voice, and journalists such as Owen Jones. In comparison, whilst Guido Fawkes is a large presence on social media, other right-wing players such as Breitbart accounts appeared less prominent. In 2019 this appears true for Twitter, but there does seem to be a growing Brexiteer presence on Facebook.

Tactical Voting

There are a number of tactical voting sites, some prioritising Remain (Remain United and Best For Britain) and some being anti-Conservative (Tactical.vote and Tactical Vote). Before the election got underway, Best for Britain came under fire for suggesting potentially misleading tactical options. An attempt to make sense of the conflicting recommendations has been carried out, but the sticking point still comes down to just what data and methods to use – especially tricky when politics is so volatile and smaller parties are forming alliances and standing aside for each other.

Non-partisan players

A lot of this space is filled by civic-tech organisations who are essentially trying to work out the best ways to collect, store, and share the vast amounts of electoral data available to better help people and organisations empower themselves. These organisations included Democracy Club, Democratic Dashboard and mySociety. Types of campaigns include voter advice applications (VAAs), voter registration drives, get out the vote campaigns, and sites designed to improve general political knowledge.

VAAs

A VAA is an app that provides a set of questions on a user’s political priorities and policy preferences and then suggests a party to vote for. This information is usually cribbed from manifestos – however, as with all tech of this sort, the design of the algorithm and accuracy of the data is paramount. These issues can be compounded if the VAA also provides tactical voting options.

Get out the vote and general political knowledge

Voter registration drives and ‘get out the vote’ campaigns include Bite the Ballot, Voting Counts and ShoutOut UK. There are also campaigns that are not focused on voting per se, but just wider democratic knowledge, such as Simple Politics. Getting people to vote is generally seen as a non-partisan issue. However, campaigns which focus primarily on younger voters get associated with left-leaning politics as this matches their expected voting behaviour. In 2017 young people were seen as a key demographic, and this is likely to be the case again.

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Note: This research is funded by British Academy Grant on Non-Party Campaigning and Digital Technology (SRG18R1\180515).

About the Authors

Luke Temple (@la_temple) is a University Teacher in Political Geography at the University of Sheffield.

 

 

Ana Ines Langer (@AnaInesLanger) is a Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Glasgow.

 

 

All articles posted on this blog give the views of the author(s), and not the position of LSE British Politics and Policy, nor of the London School of Economics and Political Science. Featured image credit: Pixabay (Public Domain).

 

The next parliament will face big dilemmas on Scottish independence

With the Scottish government focused on securing an independence referendum in 2020, the next UK Parliament is set to face difficult dilemmas on how to deal with the matter. Jack Sheldon explains why the current positions of the parties involved, and the trajectory of party support in different parts of the UK, mean that there is a real risk of stumbling towards another major crisis in the UK’s territorial constitution.

The next parliament will be faced with major constitutional dilemmas, not just over Brexit but also over a second referendum on Scottish independence. While the European question has been discussed extensively in the London media and by the political parties, the Scottish question has so far come up in the ‘British’ campaign only as one part of the Conservative soundbite that a Labour-led government would lead to ‘two referendums’. This lack of serious attention is extraordinary, given that the Scottish government is proposing a referendum be held next year and the potential for that commitment to lead to a major crisis in territorial politics, whichever of the main UK parties is in office.

There is naturally far greater focus on the domestic constitutional question in Scotland itself, where there are many marginal constituencies that will be hard fought between the SNP and the three main pro-Union parties. While the precise breakdown of Scottish seats is far from certain, current polling suggests that the SNP will secure a clear majority of them for a third consecutive general election. That would pose acutely difficult strategic dilemmas for whichever pro-Union party forms the UK government about whether, and potentially when, to allow an independence referendum, and for the Scottish government about how to proceed in the event that a referendum is refused by Westminster.

Will the next UK government allow an independence referendum to take place? 

The precedent from the previous independence referendum is that the power to legislate to hold a referendum is temporarily transferred from Westminster to Holyrood through a ‘section 30 order’ under the Scotland Act. This happened in 2012, following the ‘Edinburgh Agreement’ between the UK and Scottish governments, with the referendum itself held two years later. The SNP’s leadership have been consistent in stating that this is the route by which they would seek to hold a second referendum. Pointing to Brexit and their May 2016 manifesto commitment to a referendum in the event of a ‘material change in the circumstances that prevailed in 2014’, they intend to formally make a request to open negotiations shortly after the election so that the referendum might be held in 2020.

If the Conservatives are still in government, the likelihood of a section 30 order being granted on this timetable currently appears remote. Opposing a second independence referendum is the dominant theme of the party’s campaigning in Scotland, and reflecting this Boris Johnson has made a ‘cast-iron’ pledge not to grant one while he is Prime Minister. He has indicated that this commitment would apply even if the SNP wins a majority at the 2021 Scottish Parliament election. That would be a major departure from the approach taken by David Cameron, who reiterated in his recent memoir that he thought it was right that a referendum should be held in light of the majority the SNP won in 2011. Of course, the context is quite different now – while Cameron expected the pro-Union side to win comfortably when the 2014 referendum was agreed, the fact that support for independence has remained consistent at around (and at times above) the level of the 45% ‘Yes’ vote in 2014 means that granting a referendum would now be a far riskier proposition for an avowedly unionist Prime Minister.

Nevertheless, the considerable risks involved in not granting a referendum in these circumstances must not be under-estimated. If a Scottish government is elected on a clear pledge to hold a referendum in 2021 but this is refused by Westminster, a major crisis in the UK’s territorial politics would be a certainty. Comparisons would inevitably be drawn with the situation in Spain, where successive Spanish governments have refused to grant a Catalan independence referendum despite pro-independence majorities in the Catalan legislature. A Johnson government would need to think very carefully about whether it really wanted to go down that particular road.

The Labour Party’s Westminster leadership have advanced a more nuanced line than the Conservatives on granting a section 30 order. While Labour’s manifesto indicates that there would not be a referendum in the ‘early years’ of a Labour government, they have also indicated that the party would ‘not stand in the way’ if the SNP won a Holyrood majority in 2021.

It is unclear whether such a commitment – which clearly would not allow a referendum to be held on the schedule proposed by Nicola Sturgeon – would be sufficient to satisfy the SNP. In a hung parliament, a Labour government could yet come under pressure to grant an earlier section 30 order in order to secure SNP votes for aspects of its domestic policy agenda. It may, then, prove impossible in practice for a Labour government to delay having to face up to this dilemma until after 2021.

How will the Scottish government respond if an independence referendum is refused?

How far the Scottish government is willing to go in pursuing its commitment to hold an early independence referendum will be as pivotal in determining the sequence of events as the UK government’s approach. While the SNP’s leaders have so far remained committed to the section 30 route, if an order is – as expected – not forthcoming soon after the election, they may well come under considerable pressure from increasingly restive supporters of independence to pursue alternatives.

There is disagreement on whether a section 30 order is an absolute requirement to hold an independence referendum. Some constitutional lawyers have previously argued that, although ‘the Union’ is reserved to Westminster, the Scotland Act does not prohibit the Scottish Parliament from legislating for an independence referendum without a section 30 order. This has never been tested in the courts, but if the prospects of securing a section 30 order seem slim the Scottish government might at some point decide to go ahead with legislation that would inevitably result in a case before the Supreme Court. There was evidence of emerging grassroots pressure for this at the SNP’s most recent conference, where some activists tabled a motion calling for a ‘Plan B’ on independence to be debated, although this was ultimately voted down.

This will be a tricky judgement call for the SNP’s leaders to make. Their more cautious supporters may prefer to hold off from any escalation until after the 2021 Scottish Parliament election, when they would hope to have secured an explicit mandate for a referendum that the Westminster government would find it more difficult to refuse. Some in the party may also be uneasy about holding a referendum outside of the section 30 process, on the grounds that in the long-term it would be important than any referendum is seen as legitimate by the UK government and the international community. On the other hand, others in the party will worry that if they stall now the most propitious moment for securing a ‘Yes’ vote might be missed. Once the immediate Brexit question has been settled, the case for independence could be more difficult to make, and the SNP could by then also be feeling the repercussions of former First Minister Alex Salmond’s rape trial.

Conclusion

Whatever the result on 12 December, the next parliament looks set to be confronted with acutely difficult dilemmas on how to deal with the Scottish government’s pursuit of an imminent second independence referendum. The current positions of the parties, and the trajectory of party support in different parts of the UK, mean that there is a real risk of stumbling towards a major crisis in the UK’s territorial constitution within the next few years. Given the existential nature of these questions  for the UK, they merit much closer attention from the UK-wide parties and the media than they have received so far in this campaign, rather than just being reduced to soundbites.

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About the Author

Jack Sheldon is a Research Assistant and PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge. He works on the ESRC-funded research project, ‘Between Two Unions: The Constitutional Future of the UK and Ireland after Brexit’, and is a Fellow at the Centre on Constitutional Change.

 

 

All articles posted on this blog give the views of the author(s), and not the position of LSE British Politics and Policy, nor of the London School of Economics and Political Science. Featured image credit: Pixabay (Public Domain).

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