Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Scottish parliament election musings

So tomorrow we go to the polls... or rather, those who haven’t already voted by post go to the polls. This has been a weird and curiously low-key election — one in which all the major parties, bar the one everyone knows is going to win, effectively conceded defeat several months ago, with the Tories actively campaigning on a “vote for us to be the opposition” ticket. Still, I don’t think the result is a foregone conclusion by any stretch of the imagination. The way the D’Hondt system works, the line between a minority government and an outright majority is a very fine one indeed, and the eventual result will inevitably come down to the precise distribution of the vote in the various constituencies and regions.

I’m not a betting man (though I did buy a lottery ticket once, about 15 years ago — somewhat surprisingly, I didn’t win), but these are my predictions for the outcome. Come Friday, we’ll see how close I was.

- The SNP will win another majority, with a very modest increase on their 2011 result of 69 seats. They will not, as some have predicted, take all the constituency seats. I’m going to take an almighty gamble and predict that Nicola Sturgeon will be First Minister next week.

- Labour will remain the second largest party, but their lead over the Conservatives will be reduced to a handful of seats (say 5). Kezia Dugdale will remain in place as leader, if for no reason other than that you can’t go any lower than rock bottom.

- The Conservatives will make modest gains, picking up some of Labour’s hard unionist vote, but there will be no glorious revival... though the media will continue to inexplicably fawn over the unimpressive Ruth Davidson.

- The Liberal Democrats will gain one more seat than they did in 2011, prompting much chest-beating and claims of a Lib Dem revival from the amusing Willie Rennie. Failing that, they will retain the exact same number of seats as in 2011 and will claim that “the vote held up.” No one will listen because no one takes Willie Rennie seriously.

- The Greens will make respectable gains, albeit not to the extent that many of the polls have predicted. They’ll probably double their 2011 result of 2, but not much beyond that, and as such, will fail to overtake the Lib Dems as the fourth largest party, more’s the pity.

- RISE, Solidarity and UKIP will all fail to win a single seat. David Coburn will be deposed as UKIP leader.

So (and in the famous last words of Paddy Ashdown, I’ll eat my hat if this poll is accurate), here are my guesses:

SNP 71 (+2)
Labour 26 (-11)
Tories 21 (+6)
Lib Dems 6 (+1)
Greens 5 (+3)

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