Monday, March 19, 2012
If you look at the last General Election, you see the following pattern:I may be whistling in the wind here because that does look clear but I put up this answer which I am putting here because I think it is a useful analysis of our voting patterns and what to do about it.
Scotland Conservative 16.7%, UKIP 0.7%
Wales Conservative 26.1% UKIP 2.4%
England Conservative 39.6% UKIP 3.5%
Why does Scotland elect more europhile politicians if it is not more europhile? That is a reasonable question with complex and I admit not entirely satisfactory answers.My original remark about Scotland not being more europhile, or at least not "significantly" so was
I suggest that “right wing” parties are generally seen worldwide as more patriotic than left wing ones & thereby increase their approval. This works for the Tories inn England but in Scotland and Wales the Tories, with their historic opposition to devolution, are sen as anti-patriotic to our local patriotisms. This tends to go in spades for UKIP. I don’t say that this is a correct view but politics is not always fair.
There is also the rather greater proportion of people in Scotland and Wales feeding off the government teat, who form the class & activist base of the Labour & Green parties. And to be fair, at least in Scotland, the Tories are more the traditional landed gentry, which does not go down well with most of us.
I suspect that SKY has less penetration here and thus the BBC’s monopoly position, as official state broadcaster, is more monolithic. Also newspapers to a greater (Guardian) or lesser (Mail) extent depend on government advertising and where the government is 60% of the economy it inevitably has massive control.
None of these however influence how we feel about the EU. Few people vote for a party because of one policy (in many cases policy is irrelevant and they simply vote Labour, or sometimes Tory, because they always have).
I regret that Murdo Fraser’s attempt to reform a free market party out of the Scots Tories and others failed. I think it would have solved the first of these problems. UKIP in Scotland could rename itself Scukip
More fiscal autonomy where the money government has to spend is directly connected to what it raises, rather than lobbying for a central grant, would help towards the second. It would also help in council politics.
Stringing everybody at the BBC from the nearest lamppost, or perhaps something less spectacular and legally requiring government advertising spending to be given proportionately to the paper’s relevant demographics would solve the 3rd.
I am not convinced we Scots are significantly more enthused of the EU than England. We are dominated by a political elite which is even more europhile than England’s just as it is more warming alarmist, statist anti-nuclear but that does not necessarily reflect the people’s opinion. There is also the fact that fishing, probably the industry most thoroughly wiped out by EU membership, is far more important in Scotland than England.
The position is also muddied by the SNP using membership of the EU as a safety net in the argument about the risks of quitting the UK & have this painted themselves into a Europhile corner. If I was running the Unionist campaign I would be playing heavily on the consequences of being directly in the EU without the various opt outs Britain negotiated on working time, immigration etc.