David and Helen are joined by the historian Colin Kidd to try to make sense of last week's elections in England, Scotland and Wales. What do they mean for the future of the UK? What do they mean for the future of the Labour Party? Are either (or both) in terminal trouble? Plus we explore how Nicola Sturgeon and Boris Johnson are going to resolve their standoff over a second Scottish independence referendum.
Gordon Brown says that Scotland is a 30-30-40 nation.
- Scotland is pretty evenly divided on the question of union, but the polls don’t measure the depth or shallowness of commitment.
- In effect, there are now two Scottish Labour parties: the actual Labour party and the social democratic SNP under Sturgeon.
Alex Salmond’s party lost, but it put forward a more coherent vision for an independent Scotland.
- Salmond and Sturgeon are now on opposite sides on both the EU question and the currency question.
- You can’t pursue EU membership without a currency that you could in principle put into the exchange rate mechanism.
There’s a new alliance in Scottish politics between the SNP and the Greens.
- The Scottish Greens are more associated with independence than the environment.
- The Green relationship makes oil a trickier issue. The SNP’s committed to more gradual decarbonisation.
Where is the SNP’s greatest weakness?
- Johnson’s approach to pump more money into Scotland is unlikely to work.
- Currency, the tax, and the border are interrelated challenges. The SNP is brilliant on politics and positioning, but it doesn’t devote enough time to political economy.
- A referendum could be politically risky for both Sturgeon and Johnson. This may mean a long period of shadow-boxing.
How should Labour think about the basic challenge of reassembling a coalition?
- The basic problem that Labour faces is that its old class coalition doesn’t fit together.
- The Union also causes Labour big problems.
- Is first past the post the only thing keeping Labour alive?
Mentioned in this Episode:
- Colin on the Anglo-Scottish Union
- The SNP’s referendum
- Gordon Brown on Scotland and the Union
- Tony Blair in the New Statesman
And as ever, recommended reading curated by our friends at the LRB can be found here: lrb.co.uk/talking
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