Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Negative Equity for the London Parties in Scotland

Its sometimes difficult to decide which of the UK party leaders actually has the most problems when it comes to Scotland. But the problems that they face are of their own making. By showing no interest in anything north of Berwick, it is apparent that they are unaware of how their parties are operating.

Ruth Davidson may well turn out to be an inspired choice to lead the Conservatives north of the border. So far however, her tenure of leadership has been one contradiction and uncertainty.

David Cameron's vow to preserve the union with “every fibre of that I have” was always going to fall on stony ground. The reason being that while most people in Scotland recognise that although he may have many things, they do not believe “fibre” is one of them. His “vote no” and “we might give you a wee bit more” approach has been tried before and found to be a lie. In Cameron's defence though, the damage was done long before he came along. What the Tories would have to do to win back Scottish voters is anybody’s guess. But they won’t do it with this guy at the helm.

In an ideal Tory world, well as ideal as it can be for them, they might have hoped that Labour and the Lib-Dems might have carried the day for the unionists north of the border but alas for them this is proving quite difficult.

Meanwhile, the other half of the “Smarmy Brothers”, Nick Clegg, has led his party to the edge of oblivion.
Willie Rennie of the Lib-Dems is not in an envious position. Having to reinvent his party, after the London leadership committed suicide by coalition, he is continually hampered by his party’s association with the Tories. They have become the party of coalition, north and south of the border, and struggle to reassert the traditional values of the old Liberal Party.

While Labour in Scotland has become the party most likely to try and lie its way through any debate, it appears to be coming apart at the seams in its one time stronghold of Glasgow. Here it managed to bully and threaten some of its own councillors into passing the city’s budget. In Falkirk their MP, Eric Joyce, has been suspended while he waits to go to court for assault. He will not be resigning as Labour fear a by-election defeat to the SNP. One party member even suggesting that they would prefer a “nutter” in the seat that a nationalist. New leader Johann Lamont not only seems unable to prevent the endless stream of misinformation coming from her colleagues but appears to encourage it. She recently led an attack on the Scottish Government over the awarding of contracts for the new Forth Crossing, criticising it for not giving all of the contracts to Scottish firms. EU procurement laws of course forbid discrimination in favour of Scottish companies. These regulations were implemented in 2006 when Labour was the major partner in a coalition executive with Lib-Dems.

Miliband’s speech at the party’s conference shows that he is as out of touch as the rest. While telling people that the union was the best option for a fair distribution of wealth, he spectacularly failed to remember that the gap between the rich and poor grew under Blair and Brown just as it did under the Tories and does under the Coalition.

All three leaders have seen their ratings in Scotland continually plummet into negativity. A negativity that mirrors their approach to Independence in particular and Scotland in general. All three Scottish leaders are hamstrung to varying degrees by their London leadership’s general disinterest in all things Scottish. But cutting them loose is not on the cards as this would highlight the differences that they hope to obscure.

So how do the UK leaders measure up in the approval ratings?

A YouGov poll for the Sunday Times shows that Cameron scores minus 31% with Miliband’s approval rating standing at minus 45%. Clegg manages a minus 64% which is 17% less than his UK standing.