23 September 2006

Everybody... in?

Arthur Scargill's comrades in the Socialist Labour Party of Scotland have noticed the crowded marketplace that is the Scottish Left Wing vote, and have cried 'Us too!', so we now have three parties vying for at most 9% of the vote.

Now, to be fair to them, they have contested the last two Holyrood elections, and were unfortunate not to get a seat in the South of Scotland in 1999, but the SSP (then under Tommy Sheridan, of course) managed to eclipse them four years later and they missed their chance to get into the Parliament. The good news for them is that they might be able to win back a few votes from the SSP next May. The bad news for them is that the most likely repository for SSP votes is Solidarity, so it's hard to see where Socialist Labour can get the extra support it needs, particularly as they tend to be lumped under 'Others' in opinion polls, and all the other parties (i.e. not Labour, SNP, Tory, LibDem, Green, SSP and Solidarity) got a total of 2% in the most recent YouGov opinion poll for the Regional vote, versus 2% for the SSP alone and 3% for Solidarity. (Thanks, by the way, to Iain Old's excellent site - you'll find the link to it on the right - for that information)

Of course, this poll proves (if proof were needed), just how damaging the SSP-Solidarity split is not just for the SSP, but also for the Left as a whole. If we assume (and it's not a watertight assumption by any means) that Solidarity voters would have expressed a preference for the SSP before the split, then the unified part would have got 5% in the poll. That would have seen their seat tally reduced, certainly by two seats, with Colin Fox and Rosemary Byrne in jeopardy. The split would seem to leave the SSP with no seats, and Solidarity with one seat, in Glasgow.

Either way, Socialist Labour doesn't get a look in. Perhaps if they'd got that seat in the South of Scotland in 1999, things would have been different, and they could have gone on to make gains from that, as the Greens and the Sheridan SSP did. As it stands, I'm sorry to say that I don't see them making much of an impact, except to fragment a vote that's already split, and it'll take the total demise of at least one of either the SSP or Solidarity (probably the SSP at this stage), before they'll have an opportunity to pick up the pieces and even appear that they could win a seat. So who knows? Their campaign in 2011 might be worth a longer look than it's likely to get this time around (this is my first and probably my last post on them for a very long time), but for now, they're just making up the numbers.

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