Thursday, 10 February 2011

Labour vs Ieuan Wyn Jones

A day after I post about the possibility about a ConDem Coalition in Scotland the One Wales Government suffered a mini-implosion.

The Clash between Labour and the Plaid Cymru Leader, Ieuan Wyn Jones, has thrown some added dimensions to the upcoming Welsh Assembly Elections. Labour has said that a One Wales Government, Mark 2 isn't the only option after the election.

Evidence of why Labour seem so confident that they will not need Plaid can be seen in current opinion polls. (See the Wikipedia page on the Welsh Assembly election) Currently Labour Are sitting on 45% in the Constituency polls and 40% in the regional polls, to put that in perspective Labour won 26 seats last election with 32.2% and 29.6% of popular support, so thats an increase in support of 12.8% and 10.4% already. Labour likely believe that if they can maintain their ratings, continue to attack the Westminster Coalition and reach out to disaffect Liberal Democrat Supporters, they can gain the 5 seats they need to have majority control of the Assembly. This would obviously destroy any threat of a Plaid-led 'Rainbow Coalition'.

The attack on Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones, was a very targeted one however, it wasn't against Plaid, simply Jones' apparent mismanagement of his economic brief. Possibly if Labour find themselves needing the support of Plaid, they will ask that Plaid remove Ieuan Wyn Jones in a Clegg-Style demand for Coalition or at the very least remove him from the Economic Brief.

Labour or ConDem?

This argument helps highlight the position that the Deputy First Minister may find himself in come, May. Should the arithmetic make a Plaid Led Government a possibility, Ieuan Wyn Jones will have to choose whether to remain as Junior Partner to Labour or strike a deal with the ConDems. It is highly unlikely that Plaid will make the 4 seat gains that they would require to only need one party to form a Coalition with (which would be the Tories) especially considering Labour's Commanding Lead in the Opinion Polls.

Plaid will most likely back One Wales Mark 2 rather than Condem support, the question is, will it be Ieuan Wyn Jones who carries on leading the Welsh Nationalists?

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Scottish Government Budget Passed

Today (9/2/11) the SNP minority administration passed the last budget before the Scottish parliamentary elections on May 5th.

ConDems Support Nationalists?

With every passing year of SNP the Scottish budget has been subjected to the same political horse-trading. This budget however is special, other than being potentially the SNP's last Budget for a while should they lose the election but also how they passed it.

In the lead up to the passing of the Budget, the general consensus among the media was that the most likely outcome would be Labour/Green Opposition to the bill, Conservative support and the Liberal Democrat abstaining. Though Labour and the Green Party did indeed oppose the Budget (having not achieved any/enough of the concessions they wanted) both the Liberal Democrats and Tories backed the SNP budget (with a few of their concessions picked up)

There have been rumours floating through various articles that the SNP/Tory reluctance to possibly working closer in Holyrood has been weakening. Perhaps the Coalition has presented the Tories with a new found respect for the benefits of Coalition government, and with the potential change to AV voting for Westminster, Coalitions may become the order of business.

It is the Liberal Democrats support for the Budget that is most surprising. Having achieved some concessions they could have simply abstained and allowed the budget to have gone through with Tory support. In the spirit of Tactical Politics here is some Points of Analysis

1) ConDem Bleed Effect - The ConDem Coalition hope to introduce 5 year fixed term parliaments and the Devolved Governments run on 4 year life cycles. As it stand the current Westminster parliament and the Next Devolved governments will all hold elections at the same time in 2015. This ConDem support for the SNP could be a hint at a possible expansion of the Coalition work together until 2015 in both levels of Government. If The ConDem Coalition can do a deal with the Celtic Bloc it would make the implementation of their policies much easier without a Labour-Led Welsh Government and SNP Minority Government making life difficult. This raises another question, if the Coalition is entering Celtic politics, will The Celtic Bloc be joining the Westminster Coalition?

2) Liberal Democrats Election Strategy - The Liberal Democrat leadership is always quick to point out that thye operate as a separate party from the Conservatives, but going into elections having just joined with the Tories to back the SNP's budget, shoots the argument in the foot. While yes, it could be argued that the Liberal Democrats supported the Budget because they achieved the concessions they wanted, surely they could have simply abstained and then have been able to have portrayed the SNP as making the bed for a SNP/Tory coalition after May 5th. This may not have helped the Lib Dem vote recover but it would have damaged the SNP nationalist credentials and perhaps pushed some support to the pro-independence parties like Solidarity and split the votes.

3) Labour and the Greens? - Labour and the Greens may have received either a very late or incredibly early Christmas present. The Scottish Greens have in the past offered a level of support to the SNP, but recently they seem to be arguing more with their Pro-Independence Brethren. With the Election of their first MP and possible collapse in Student Lib Dem support the Greens and Labour could pick up more votes than they normally would. While it is unlikely that the Greens and Labour would enter Coalition, perhaps the Greens will offer a level of support to Labour rather than the SNP. Labour need to use this to their advantage and hit out at the SNP hard, should they come out on top of the May 5th election but lack a majority or a share of the seats in which the support of the Greens or Independents wouldn't give them a majority they will find it near impossible to do anything as it is unlikely the ConDems or SNP would give support without huge concessions.

There are many many things that could be gleaned from the Budget, but one thing is for certain, the Horse-trading has just begun.

Please Comment with any thoughts.

Barnsley Central By-Election

Eric Illsley has resigned his seat two days before he is due to be sentenced, so let's bring on By-Election Number 2.

Like the Old and Sad by-election Barnsley Central is a Labour seat and with a majority of over 11000 it is unlikely that Labour will lose this one either. Instead this by-election will probably be focused on two other aspects.

Conservative vs Liberal Democrats

The first will be the behaviour of the Conservative and Liberal Democrats camps going into this one. At the 2010 General Election they were only 6 votes apart, so a soft campaign by the Tories is not really an option with the margin being so small between 2nd and 3rd place. Having maintained the Liberal Democrat vote in the Old/sad By-election the Coalition should take the view that the Lib Dems have had time to recover and this election should be fought as hard as possible to demonstrate not only that the parties are different (to silence more merger talk) but also to show that the Lib Dems do not require an easy ride from the Tories.

The Other Guys

As with any By-election little media attention will be paid to the fight for 4th place. The BNP came fourth in the General Election, Followed by UKIP. With the recent internal problems that have plagued the BNP and being pushed by UKIP into 5th in Oldham, the BNP will need a strong showing to prove that they are still in the game, especially so close to Local and Assembly elections. Otherwise UKIP may finally be able to garner enough support to make significant gains come May, which with their new Millionaire supporter will be much easier to do.

I would suggest that as many of the smaller/minor parties should run in this election, as it will provide an excellent opportunity for publicity in the lead up to the Local election in England. Parties such as the Libertarians, Liberals, SDP, Greens, English Democrats and Pirate should attempt to run. In the case of the Left wing parties of which there are a multitude, I would suggest backing a left unity candidate, perhaps a Trade Unionist and Socialist Candidate (TUSC) so as to gather a bit more attention for the left wing candidates who may have a chance in Scotland come May.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Return of the Left-Wing?

With the Irish General election confirmed for the end of February and the Celtic Elections set for May 5th, an old force hopes to make a comeback.

United Left Alliance and Sinn Fein

In Ireland Fianna Fail looks guaranteed to haemorrhage seats in the Dail, while this spells good news for the Labour Party and Fine Gael it is the parties of the Hard-Left that look set to make gains.

Sinn Fein currently sitting with 5 seats in the Dail hope to at least double their seat numbers with the presence of Baron Gerry Adams and a disenfranchised electorate. Pointing to Northern Ireland to show that they can deal with handling budgets which limits are dictated by an external force, Sinn Fein will hope that if they make enough gain the other parties will have to consider them a viable coalition partner. Baron Adams has been firm in stating that coalition negotiations should wait till after the election, though stating he would not work with as a junior partner to the right wing parties of Fianna fail and Fine Gael. It can only be assumed that Baron Adams envisions a Labour-Led coalition of the Left to deal with the EU/IMF and the Irish financial situation. To do this however would require a bit more help however...

United Left Alliance

The ULA, featuring the Socialist Party, the People Before Profit Alliance, and the Workers and Unemployed Action Group and a few former Labour Party members will be fielding 19 candidates. They hope to establish enough seats to alter the assumed Fine Gael-Labour government in March. Much like Sinn Fein they do not wish to see the continuation of Irish politics being headed by either Fine Gael and Fianna Fail.

The potential Left wing government in Ireland would be historic, however it does suffer from several flaws in the theory. Firstly, the Labour Party are not keen on working with Sinn Fein, so unless Labour and the ULA gain enough seats to form a Coalition Labour may have to make a decision, the Hard-Left Republican Sinn Fein, Headed by Baron Adams or the battered Fianna Fail, led by former Foreign minister Michael Martin (could easily ask for his old job then). Both choice difficult, with Sinn Fein being seen as Radical and Fianna Fail being seen as the cause of a lot of the problems facing the Republic.

There is one scenario a Left-Labour Government could come about;

1) Labour become Largest/Second Largest party against Fine Gael
2) ULA makes some gains (first election for ULA)
3) Green Party maintains it seats
4) Independents (who do better than in British elections) make gains
5) Deal struck with either Fianna Fail or Sinn Fein

Depending on seat wins Gilmore could come out as Taoiseach with either Michael Martin or Baron Adams as Deputy

This however is not the only chance of a Left Resurgence, Scotland promises to attempt a fightback for the Left-wing.

George Galloway

The Firebrand, Maverick Left Winger, George Galloway hopes to lead the Left Wing back into Holyrood after a 4 year exile. With the imprisonment of Solidarity Leader Tommy Sheridan, not only have there been talks of Solidarity standing with George Galloway on a joint slate in Glasgow but also the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP), has reached out to it's splinter, Solidarity, with an offer for reconciliation.

If a Joint left ticket could be agreed (and agreed for the whole of Scotland) The Left wing parties could make their way into the Scottish Parliament. While up against some stiff competition from Labour and the SNP who will no doubt be brawling for control, a sudden Left Wing presence could be a god-send for the SNP with the arrival of so many pro-independence Left-wingers.

Only time will tell if the Left-wing parties can manage to regain a foothold in the political make-up of the UK, but it will definitely make for an interesitng element in the elections.