I've kind of stopped blogging. You might have noticed that. Principally this is because I mainly blogged in the past to outline arguments against Scottish Independence and that ship has sailed without any other lunatic idea appearing over the horizon. So why bother?
But I retain an active interest in politics. So would like to have some continued readership for my blog. And that's why I write tonight about the Scottish General Election in 2026.
They say the best chess players can think five moves ahead. I'm not much of a chess player but, with due modesty, like to think of myself as someone who can think a few political moves ahead.
Now, in truth, even the best chess players don't really need to think these five full moves ahead. For their opponents next move is probably THIS, in which case they will have already decided to do THAT. And for two or three other moves whatever. Unless their opponent decides to do something unexpected, which might be a masterstroke or simply a mistake. But, either or any way, these are the rules.
And the rules of the political game are ultimately as iron.
There is not going to be a UK General Election until Autumn 2024. The Tories are going to hold on as long as possible in the hope something will turn up but Autumn 2024 is as long as is possible. Beyond that point their worry about differential turnout is cubed by differential turnout in the depths of Winter.
And the Tories will lose. That's a conclusion not just reached by current polling. They themselves have essentially given up, barring "events". As, with benefit of the memoirs from a much better group of Tories, they had done so at least a year before the 1997 Election.
And at that 2024 election, the SNP will suffer a considerable reverse. In my view being likely to being reduced to the second Party in terms of Scottish seats, even possibly the third. But let's give them their best conceivable result. Still the largest Party but 20 seats down. That will be a complete game changer.
Partly this is because people forget (or choose to forget) the 2017 General Election. The loss of 21 seats then severely dented the momentum of Scottish Nationalism. They had long since decided they wanted another go at a referendum but even they then went quiet on the matter for a time. Not just because everything said they would lose again but also because such a demand lacked all credibility. How much more so in the aftermath of a significant 2024 defeat? What happens then within the SNP might be usefully the subject of a different blog but it would surely involve Useless departing the scene in favour of Kate Forbes and the Greens returning to the political wilderness. And that's even without anybody ending up in the jail in the meantime.
But that's just me thinking three or four moves ahead. Let's go to five.
Labour will win in the UK in 2024 on the basis of no increase in current levels of income tax. That seems pretty certain. But in Scotland we already pay higher rates than the rest of the UK. This is currently, politically, justified on the premis that the Tories are not taxing enough. Forget for the moment whether that is true. It remains a defensible argument between a Tory Government at Westminster and a Nationalist one at Holyrood. But it is not conceivably a defensible argument between a Labour Westminster Government and a potential Labour Holyrood one.
So here is my fifth move ahead. Labour will fight the May 2026 Election in Scotland based on cutting Income Tax in line with the rest of the UK. "Close the Foreign Embassies, stop subsiding STV, shut down the quangos" Never mind whether the economics of this add up. Let the Nats defend them. Unless of course Kate Forbes, a formidable opponent, has already been one move ahead of us.