Local elections in the United Kingdom on Thursday provided the biggest litmus test of the parties’ popularity since the 2015 general election.
The results were mixed.
After so many surveys called the last election wrong, pollsters and pundits were more cautious this time around. But two assumptions were nevertheless made: that the English council elections would follow the pattern of punishing the national governing party and that the Scottish National Party would keep its majority north of the border, possibly even wipe out Labour.
Most Scottish voters seem indifferent to their ruling party’s policy failures. An Ipsos Mori survey for STV released this week suggested that the Scottish National Party could win an even bigger majority in next year’s regional elections while 71 percent approve of First Minister Nicolas Sturgeon’s job performance.
Britain’s Conservatives will not devolve more powers to Scotland than they’ve already promised, Prime Minister David Cameron’s new Scotland secretary has said.
The Financial Times reports that David Mundell, the only Conservative Party member elected north of the border, will seek to enact within months a series of reforms Britain’s major parties — including the Scottish nationalists — agreed to last year.
But there will not be anything close to federalization, he said, which would give Scotland not only spending but full tax powers.
Despite winning 56 out of Scotland’s 59 seats in Britain’s general election on Thursday, the Scottish National Party is almost certain to disappoint its supporters.
The nationalists were expecting to play kingmakers in the new Parliament. Polls had shown neither Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives nor the opposition Labour Party winning an outright majority. With the SNP set to take over almost all of Labour’s seats in Scotland, it was projected to be able to give the socialists a majority.
Stories published in the Financial Times and New Statesman this weekend argue that the Scottish National Party is actually more corporatist than socialist and that Labour voters may in for a disappointment if the two go into coalition together.
With polls showing the nationalists winning as many as 56 out of 59 Scottish seats in the general election next week, a minority Labour government would probably need their support to stay in power.
Some leftwingers relish the prospect, seeing the SNP as a less compromising progressive party that would presumably tug Labour to the left. Nicola Sturgeon, the party leader and Scottish first minister, has taken Labour’s Ed Miliband to task for accepting many of the Conservative-led government’s austerity measures and often reminds voters the National Health Service north of the border is more generously funded.