Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Would Tories "Rule Forever" After Independence?

One argument I have seen laid against the campaign for Scottish independence is that without Scottish MPs, Westminster will be doomed to Tory rule forever more - with Labour requiring its substantial Scottish base to ever win a majority.

Aside from the counter arguments that English politics would inevitably re-centre itself rather than sustain one party rule, that there may be greater turnout by Labour supporters to end such one party rule, or that it's not Scotland's place to push England leftwards, it is simply factually incorrect that Westminster would not produce Labour majorities without Scotland.

The following table shows what the results would be for each general election from 1945 to 2010 had Scotland not been taking part in those elections.  There is no accounting for the effects of the previously made arguments, this is simply what the overall results would have been if you were to remove the Scottish seats from the final result each time.

1945UK3932101225Lab maj 146
- Scotland3561831218Lab maj 143
1950UK31529893Lab maj 5
- Scotland27826772Lab maj 2
1951UK29532163Con maj 17
- Scotland26028653Con maj 18
1955UK27734562Con maj 60
- Scotland24330952Con maj 59
1959UK25836561Con maj 100
- Scotland22033450Con maj 109
1964UK31730490Lab maj 4
- Scotland27428050Con maj 1
1966UK364253121Lab maj 98
- Scotland31823371Lab maj 77
1970UK28833066Con maj 30
- Scotland24430735Con maj 55
Feb 1974UK3012971423Lab short 33
- Scotland2612761116Con short 12
Oct 1974UK3192771326Lab maj 3
- Scotland2782611015Lab short 8
1979UK2693391116Con maj 43
- Scotland225317814Con maj 70
1983UK2093972321Con maj 144
- Scotland1683761519Con maj 174
1987UK2293762223Con maj 102
- Scotland1793661320Con maj 154
1992UK2713362024Con maj 21
- Scotland2223251121Con maj 71
1997UK4181654630Lab maj 177
- Scotland3621653624Lab maj 137
2001UK4131665228Lab maj 167
- Scotland3581654222Lab maj 129
2005UK3551986231Lab maj 64
- Scotland3141975125Lab maj 41
2010UK2583065729Con short 38
- Scotland2173054623Con maj 19

As can be seen, there are only two occasions out of the eighteen general elections held since 1945 where the exclusion of Scotland would result in a different party winning the most seats - 1964 and February 1974.  These were both highly marginal results as they were, 1964 producing a tiny Labour majority and February 1974 producing a hung parliament that resulted in a second general election eight months later.

As well as those two, the only other significantly different results would be October 1974 where Labour is now slightly short of a majority instead of having a tiny one, and the most recent election in 2010 where the Conservatives win a small majority instead of the hung parliament situation that actually occured.

That leaves fourteen of the last eighteen elections where the overall result would have been the same.  Perhaps there would have been smaller Labour majorities, but the likes of the 1997, 2001 and even 2005 general elections all would have still produced strong Labour governments.

From this, it is clear that the Tories would not be destined to "rule forever" in the remaining UK if Scotland were to become independent in 2014.