DEBUNKING AN UNDEBUNKED SNP MYTH: SCOTLAND ALWAYS HAS TO ENDURE WESTMINSTER GOVERNMENTS IT DOESN’T ELECT

Not true. The SNP, as with so much, the SNP and the Yes campaign is wrong.

As I understand the complaint in the myth, it is that in general elections, the majority of MPs elected in Scottish are always of a different party to the majority of MPs across the United Kingdom, making up the Union government, so that Scotland ended up with and always had to endure Union governments it does not elect. In fact this does not happen always, after every general election, or even most of the time. It doesn’t even happen more often than not. It happens less than half the time.

But, I have been put right by an angry Yes voter near Dingwall (I think) who I telecanvassed the other night. He said, I paraphrase, that because there was no independent sovereign Scotland, there could not be a government elected by Scotland until there was an independent sovereign Scottish state. So no government ever elected in the United Kingdom had been or could be a government elected by Scotland. There was no time to see how far this argument extended – was there a NHS, for example? – and anyway he was too angry. It was another reminder in the SNP and Yes campaign bubble facts are only what the SNP and its fellow travellers say are facts.

In the real world, Scotland has had governments it elected for just over half the time since the Second World War. The last time Scotland had a government at Westminster in line of the same party as the majority of Scottish MPs was 11May 2010, the day Gordon Brown resigned as prime minister. Up to then the majority of MPs in Scotland had been of the governing party at Westminster for thirteen years since 1997. This happened in ten of the governments formed after the eighteen general elections since the Second World War. After the 1955 general election, the majority of Scottish MPs were Conservative, as was the government at Westminster. In 1951, Labour and Conservatives had the same number of seats in Scotland – thirty-five each, plus one Liberal (Jo Grimond) – but the Conservatives had an overall majority across the country and Winston Churchill formed the government.

That’s democracy for you. You fight hard for your cause and win or lose; live with the result; then, fight again; and so on. Wanting to engineer a state in which you don’t have to put up with the other side or sides wining some or all (in the case of we Liberal Democrats) of the time would be anti-democratic and authoritarian.

Scotland has done better than Wales, which has never elected a majority of Tory MPs (unless there was an aberration in the nineteenth century I haven’t found). The North of England last elected a majority of Tory MPs in 1924 (excluding its majorities for the National Government), yet I hear no clamour for secession around me in Yorkshire. Northern Ireland last elected a majority of MPs of the United Kingdom governing party in 1970, but then the Conservatives and unionists in Ulster split.

Only London and the South of England have consistently elected majorities of Conservative MPs. The Midlands has usually reflected the majority at Westminster, except in 1955, when it went the opposite way to Scotland.

By the way, percentages of votes cast are harder to find historically than numbers of MPs, but it is elected MPs that form or do not form governments.

Scotland also does better than the Liberal Democrats. We have never had a majority Liberal Democrat government, but I’ve never seen a Liberal Democrat conference proposal for the party to secede from the Union.

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Note: my sources are “Twentieth-Century British Political Facts 1900-2000” by David Butler and Gareth Butler, Palgrave, 2000; + Wikipedia for elections in this and the 19th century.

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This entry was posted in Better Together, Liberal Democrats, No campaign, Politics, Referendum, Scotland, Scottish Referendum, United Kingdom, Westminster, Yes campaign and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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