Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Theresa May drops the biggest political MOAB ever to hit Westminster, the entire country is going to the polls on the 8th June, Conservatives have decided to take their 21 point lead over the Labour Party out for a spin, everything is literally up in the air, and this election isn't just about Brexit, is it also about can the Scottish Conservatives take Holyrood in 2021

Dear All

It seems that there is to be a snap general election for Westminster, Theresa May has pulled the plug and the country is going to the polls. In Scotland, people are a bit election and referendum weary.

Firstly, hats off to Prime Minister Theresa May for playing a blinder, the opposition is in a bit of a state at present, especially the Labour Party who has a huge mountain to climb, 21 points behind in the polls. The Lib Dems are making noises about a revival which is frankly ludicrous, they have 8 MPs, and in Scotland, they have a single MP.

There are good reasons to go now:

1/ To get a clear mandate, always handy
2/ To strengthen the UK position at the Brexit talks
3/ To outflank the SNP who made noises about dissolving Holyrood then backed away
4/ To use this election to see if the Scottish Conservatives can take Holyrood  

Obviously there are probably other reasons, such as not wanting to get distracted near the end of Brexit talks with an opposition threatening mischief.

So, is Theresa May as some people suggest taken her biggest gamble?

There are still unhappy remainers but the direction of travel for the United Kingdom is towards Brexit, politically since the Labour Party is in a bad place, there is talk of huge losses for them, a figure of 140 seats was being banded about the place. Elections however are funny things, and snap elections are in a way a little like by-elections, they are specials because you don’t get the normal run in time of year. After Westminster folds its tents on May 3rd, we get what is called a ‘short campaign’, this means the election is called and running. Ideally, short campaigns favour mainstream parties who have the resources and personnel to mount a proper campaign as we traditionally know it.

To stand for Westminster requires a good few thousand pounds, if you want to do a decent campaign and you have go full time. Quite simply the logistics is staggering especially if you are unclear what support if you can expect in terms of money, people and resources, which I call the ‘political economy’. If you take a constituency of 60,000 voters, call it 30,000 homes, divided by the number of activists, let’s say 10 for an example. That means an activist has to deliver 3,000 leaflets, roughly 200 a night which takes some people 2 hours; that works out to 15 work days, multiple that by 3 leaflets, this rolls out at 45 workdays. This is based on them doing every day, not doing canvassing and street stalls, that is more labour intensive.

As well as the Westminster in Scotland, there are the council elections, that is an additional huge drain on resources, money and people, running two campaigns at the same time is possible but not easy, somewhere the time factor kicks in. Everyone party needs to prep for Westminster, not just in the office but also in the CLPs or branches and they have to do it now. Running a campaign on the hoof isn’t easy, especially when no one else has a bloody clue what anyone else is doing in the same campaign.

Planning is still critical and so being flexible because the best campaign plan can fail if you can’t execute it, so you have to be creative. When other people are looking to you, you need to have a clear idea that everyone can get onboard with. The last thing you want is people feeling left out because they don’t feel part of the team. This why short campaigns are high pressure, so much done over the course of a year is literally crammed into 6 weeks.

If you have done a bit of campaigning, you know what a good campaign is, a good campaign is the person in charge putting everyone before themselves; this is leadership. It is important that the activists are treated with respect and you understand they are going the extra mile for you, so you go further for them. Winning is better than losing, but having a badly run campaign has a ripple effect in your CLP, people don’t feel they want to get involved in future events if treated in an offhand manner.

This election is being dubbed “the Brexit election”, with Theresa May saying:

“I trust the British people.”

A point which will no doubt come up is that this election will also be billed as an election to show national unity to Europe, despite many differences, the country must present a united front, obviously leaving out Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP who have no interest in doing so.
Theresa May said:

“In recent weeks Labour has threatened to vote against the deal we reach with the European Union. The Liberal Democrats have said they want to grind the business of government to a standstill. The Scottish National Party say they will vote against the legislation that formally repeals Britain's membership of the European Union and unelected members of the House of Lords have vowed to fight us every step of the way. Our opponents believe that because the Government's majority is so small, our resolve will weaken and that they can force us to change course. They are wrong. They underestimate our determination to get the job done and I am not prepared to let them endanger the security of millions of working people across the country.”

She added:

“If we do not hold a general election now their political game-playing will continue and the negotiations with the European Union will reach their most difficult stage in the run-up to the next scheduled election. Division in Westminster will risk our ability to make a success of Brexit and it will cause damaging uncertainty and instability to the country. So we need a general election and we need one now. Because we have at this moment a one-off chance to get this done while the European Union agrees its negotiating position and before the detailed talks begin.”

I was surprised that Theresa May has called a snap election after ruling this out earlier, but we are where we are as General Mike Jackson used to say, so we have to get on with it. The Conservatives have a 21 point lead which is huge, and if things pan out, they stand to increase their majority. In Scotland, things aren’t so rosy, the Scottish Conservatives face a few problems, although they can find the money for the campaigns, will be able to access resources, they don’t have enough personnel on the ground, and certainly not enough prep time to mount the kind of challenge that they would wish for to gain seats.

Yesterday I was saying that the Scottish Conservatives would like Ruth Davidson to have a crack at being First Minister in 2021, so luckily for her this election gives the Scottish Conservatives a rough idea if that is viable. Let’s face it if you are considering ploughing a massive amount of cash into a future election, you don’t want to wet your finger and stick it in the air, you want something a bit more robust in terms of empirical evidence.

Finally, I wonder how many of the SNP MPs are feeling a bit uncomfortable about their continued employment prospects at Westminster?

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University


Al C said...

I guess we'll just have to wait and see, George. To be honest though, I see the potential demise of Labour for the foreseeable future as potentially very good, since it means a better opposition can fill the gap. I wouldn't vote Labour, but I'd give my right arm for someone else to vote for.

Trafalgar said...

Anything that can wipe the grin off of that smug arsewipe Sturgeon, is good enough for many of us. Scotland is being destroyed daily by the SNP scum. Time to get rid of them.

D.Stewart said...

The answer is that quite a few SNP MPs must be feeeling the draught today I suspect Mr Laird. The two under suspension are facing the party with an interesting decision for a start off and Ms Black, has already indicated she has lost interest in the job, it requiring some actual effort on her part and all. Personally I would laugh my socks off if Agnes were to lose his seat and I hope the political heirs to Charles Kennedy get a real chance at revenge. What are your thoughts on the SNP decision to abstain in the vote and to pull the Teflon Pixie in to grandstand? Seems a gutless way to behave to me and I think some political hay could be made there? Too much to hope that Fat Eck gets deposed?

Aldo said...

If I was an SNP MP in Southern or North Eastern Scotland, I'd be brushing up my CV and checking out

Ruth as First Minister - lovely thought, but unlikely. She'd need the support of Labour and the Lib Dems. To those parties, being anti-Tory is still more important than being pro-union.

Freddy said...

Hit them on all the first class travel and all the gravy they have creamed but the pro union parties need to decide where they can make a difference and not stand where they got no chance of winning.

Anonymous said...

The Tories are saying tactical voting to get rid of the SNP. Well, that would have me and my family voting Lie@bour but I will not vote Lie@bour, we are voting Toarie. If the Scottish folk vote SNP, they deserve all they get. I can’t stand that Krankie, her voice makes me ill, looking at her in the media, makes me ill.

Anonymous said...

Sturgeon is a vile repulsive cretin, I’m centre left, ex Labour and I’m thinking of offering my services free to the local Tory party to deliver leaflets. I really dislike that horrible woman. Please organise something, anything, we need to get rid of this irritating weirdo.

Tony F said...

If the polls are accurate - and on past performance that is a very big if - then we will sadly be witnessing the death throes of the Labour party! Although I am generally a conservative voter I do recognise the need for a strong and effective opposition as history has taught us that an unchallenged government is a dangerous thing. Witness Margaret Thatchers' untroubled spells as PM thanks to a very weak Labour party as well as Tony Blairs' equally tranquil terms due to a Tory party that preferred to fight itself rather than the Government of the day. Neither reign was ultimately beneficial to the country in the long run. I suspect if Jezza fails spectacularly and is then forced out rather than resigning - because you would have to prise the Labour party from his cold dead hands= then an urgent call may go out across the Atlantic to David Milliband to ride to the rescue!!

Anonymous said...

If life is not the party we had hoped for,
While we are here,
We might as well dance.

Aldo said...

If your local Labour or Liberal candidate is within striking distance of the SNP, then you should vote Labour or Liberal, accordingly. In all other cases, however, a conservative vote is best.

Anonymous said...



D. Stewart said...

Scottish #GE2017 Survation poll for @Sunday_Post
SNP 43.1% (50% in 2015)
Tories 27.9% (14.9%)
Labour 17.8% (24.3%)
Lib Dems 8.8% (7.5%)

ST/Panelbase Scotland poll
Seat projections by John Curtice

SNP 45 (-11)
Con 12 (+11)
Lib Dem 2 (+1)
Lab 0 (-1)

Would value your thoughts Mr Laird. Is this in line with your thoughts/findings?

Anonymous said...

I would love to see the SNP lose as many seats as possible. I consider myself to be a socialist voter and the SNP certainly isn't a socialist party. The only problem is that it will likely be Conservatives who pick up those seats, if current polls are correct.

Sturgeon is playing political football over welfare. I don't care what she says about Ruth Davidson over the so-called rape clause, I just wish she'd back up all her talk with action on welfare powers, but the SNP have no intention of intervening in this matter, and they also told Westminster to keep the welfare powers that they were offered last year.

I voted for independence in 2014 because I thought it was the best chance of getting rid of right wing parties in government, but I really don't know if I would do so again. The SNP have shown themselves to be more interested in scoring political points and getting themselves as many seats on the gravy train as possible, than actually helping poor people.

I would especially love to see my own local MP lose her seat, the useless Patricia Gibson who seems to think the most important issue facing her is a British flag on a pub in Largs.

The SNP talk a good game when it comes to sticking up for the poor, sick and disabled, but when it comes to action their true colours shine through as Tartan Tories. The late Willie Ross certainly coined an apt nickname.

G Laird said...

Hi D Stewart

This is a tricky one, there are said to be 14 seats which the SNP could lose, 12 going to Conservatives.

Because this is a snap election, it is unusual, parties general need the full campaigning time between elections to build up support, because it is very time consuming. This election because it is a short campaign of 6 weeks will be done as a special, the Conservatives do have a decent chance, but they need floating voters as well which could come from people who voted Brexit, there are a million of those in Scotland.

If I was the Conservatives, I would highlight like mad that they have started the Brexit talks and everyone needs to get behind the country at this time.

I expect Conservatives to win, how that plays out depends on national campaigns and how the local campaigns play out, politics is about working an area to get the vote.

Finally, the shine has come off the SNP, so everything is up for grabs, especially in the 12 seats the Conservatives wish to target.


G Laird said...

Dear Anon

"I would especially love to see my own local MP lose her seat, the useless Patricia Gibson who seems to think the most important issue facing her is a British flag on a pub in Largs."

I know her, she was in my foirmer SNP branch, she wasn't active in the branch, and I agree with you, she is useless, it would be fuinny to see her dumped on her arse.


D. Stewart said...

Thanks Mr Laird,

Personally I think it is overstating the Conservative position, however I do think there is the whiff of panic around the SNP and they could easily drop (or be induced to drop) a bollock or two in the next few weeks.

Interesting times.

Freddy said...

you just got to hope that the professionals have done their sums George just got to keep chipping away.