Saturday, 20 May 2017

Can McGill win?

So, I start with a declaration of interest. Iain McGill, the Tory candidate in Edinburgh North and Leith. is a pal of mine. But that's not in fact as unusual as you might think, not because I am a secret Tory but because Scotland is a small place and friendships do exist across the political divide,

Even in the context of Edinburgh North and Leith, Mark Lazarowicz, its Labour MP for fourteen years, is one of my oldest pals. Indeed we once went on holiday together, While, before Mark was blown away in the 2015 "Tsunami", the person who had previously run him most close was Lib-Dem Kevin Lang (now Councillor Kevin Lang). Who is also a pal of mine.

So I declare my interest only to forestall some cybernat pointing it out, although I accept that I have picked out Iain's seat as, because of that personal connection, it is indicative of my wider conclusion. The Tory revival might be at a further tipping point.

Edinburgh has five seats. East, in current circumstance, is probably safe for the Nats. (I don't say that just because it's MP, Tommy Sheppard, is also one of my oldest pals). South will be a unionist (if not exactly a Labour) bastion for Iain Murray. West has effectively already gone to the Libs and South West to the Tories. But North and Leith? North and Leith is the one to watch.

The Tories start theoretically third, where they were in 2015. But at the local government poll on 4th May past it was a different story. The Nats "won", certainly, with 27.6% of the first preference vote but in second place, with 25.9%,  were the Tories. More interestingly still, the combined Labour and Lib-Dem vote didn't even (just) get up to the Tory mark.

But freeze that and the brutality of first past the post will do its bit. So the question becomes, will that freeze persist?

And my answer to the question? I genuinely don't know.

But the answer to that very question will decide the narrative of this election in Scotland. Can the Tories advance just that little bit more in their own right? Even if they can't, can Ruth rally, however temporarily, Lib-Dem and Labour voters to her unionist flag where she needs to ? If she can't, she can't. But if she can? Then it won't just be North and Leith that falls but, by my calculation,  another half dozen or so seats.

And that would be on top of the fifteen seats Ruth has already flagged up as those where the Tories were in the lead on May 4th. Excepting Edinburgh South (be serious!) and Gordon where, much as I'd dance round the room were it otherwise, the celebrity of its MP will probably see him hang on.

And then, if the Libs take not just Edinburgh West but East Dunbarton (done deal) and NE Fife but also at least one of their former Highland seats? Game on. If only Labour, despite our leadership, can do our bit for the Popular Front.

Obviously Jez and Kez are a problem but they'll be gone soon and in advance of a proper revival and by the same logic by which McGill might take North and Leith, Martin McCluskey can take Inverclyde for us, Lesley Laird Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, Martin Whitfield East Lothian, Hugh Gaffney Coatbridge and Chryston, Paul Sweeney Glasgow North East, Angela Feeney Motherwell and Wishaw and, particularly if in at last minute panic Patrick Harvie doesn't declare people shouldn't actually vote for him, the great Pam Duncan in Glasgow North.

In the UK, the Tories are going to win this election. As will the SNP in the Scottish bit of it. But in five years time if we want a Labour Government Scotland can't sit it out as we did in 2015. The starting point is to crush the Nats and return Edinburgh North and Leith to a seat we need to win in the context of a continued Union. Were I a younger man, I might even then seek the Labour nomination myself. Sorry Iain, but politics is politics. And, as I recall, its your round.


  1. No mention of Gordon Munro the Labour candidate, well known and liked through his diligent council work, and yes you guessed it, a pal of mine. I think Gordon will get a second and certainly help split the Unionist vote so for me it's Deidre with perhaps a reduced vote share.

  2. I consider Iain McGill to be an exceptionally poor choice of candidate for EN&L - for one of the most Remain-voting constituencies in the UK. Hell would freeze over before this, some-time-Tory-supporting, voter would put my cross in his box. Even if it means Deidre staying where she is. I doubt I'm the only one.

  3. Aye right.

    In 2015, I voted Labour for the first and probably last time. As did a lot of my Tory friends. Iain's vote still held up fairly well.

    Not going to happen this time. Ruth D winning Central Edinburgh last year gave us back belief and Deirde Who is one of the weakest candidates possible. No presence in Parliament or constituency.

    So far, I've had 3 leaflets from the boy McGill and absolutely nothing from SNP, Labour or Lib Dem. Apparently, we also have the statistically rare luck of having the chance to vote for a Green candidate but she is clearly saving the environment by not sending out any literature at all.

    And, since you brought up the subject of old friends, Iain reminds me of one of mine, David McLetchie.

    I hope he wins. Even if he does not, I am certain that the pro-Union vote will outweigh the Separatist total by a barrowload.

    1. David McLetchie was also a pal of mine! A great loss to Scottish politics.

  4. I consider Iain McGill to be an exceptionally poor choice of candidate for EN&L - for one of the most Remain-voting constituencies in the UK.

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