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22nd Jul 2018

Scottish nationalists to hold UK balance of power

  • The SNP campaigned for Scotland to leave the UK (Photo: Valentina Pop)

The Scottish Nationalist Party is poised to hold the balance of power following next week’s UK elections, after new polls suggested that Nicola Sturgeon’s party will win all 59 Scottish constituencies.

A survey released on Wednesday (29 April) by pollsters Ipsos Mori puts the SNP on 54 percent of the vote in Scotland, with the once dominant Labour party trailing on 20 percent.

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  • Sturgeon: The SNP is ready to give UK politics 'the fright of its life' (Photo: First Minister of Scotland)

The SNP surge makes it increasingly likely that the party will be kingmakers after the poll on 7 May.

UK-wide opinion polls continue to have the Conservatives and Labour in a near dead-heat, both winning between 265-275 seats in the 650 seat parliament.

The Liberal Democrats, who formed a coalition with the Conservatives in 2010, are expected to claim around 30 seats, around half of their total from 2010. The anti-EU UK Independence party is expected to win only a couple of seats.

A potential wipe-out in Scotland is also a huge blow to Labour’s hopes of taking power. Labour has consistently returned the most MPs to the Westminster parliament since the 1960s. In 2010, Labour won 40 seats in Scotland, compared to 6 for the SNP and one for the governing Conservatives.

Anthony Wells, a pollster with rival firm YouGov, referred to the change as as “a true realignment in Scottish politics”.

“It’s just a question of how colossal the SNP landslide is,” he added.

Labour leader Ed Miliband has vowed not to enter a coalition with the SNP, despite it generally being regarded as a centre-left party, raising the prospect of a second election before the end of the year.

“He can say what he likes now, but he will have to wake up and smell the coffee on 8 May,” Sturgeon said in an interview on ITV on Wednesday night. She also described the election as “an opportunity to give Westminster the fright of its life”.

“We have got bargaining power on every single vote,”.

Despite losing last September’s referendum on independence from the UK, the SNP saw an immediate surge in support after Prime Minister David Cameron ruled out the prospect of extra financial support for Scotland and vowed to tackle the constitutional quirk which allows Scottish and Welsh MPs to vote on policy matters that affect England but not vice versa.

Post-referendum promises to transfer further powers to the Scottish government have also failed to be fleshed out.

The referendum defeat has not dampened the enthusiasm of Scots for independence. More than 50 percent of Scots now back independence, and a sustained period of dominance in both Scottish and Westminster elections would inevitably maintain the pressure for a second referendum.

“We were lucky, in a way, in 2010, that it was possible to put together a strong government relatively quickly. But there is absolutely no guarantee that can happen again with all the uncertainties and instabilities of what is happening in Scotland,” Cameron said on Wednesday, warning that “if government comes to a shuddering halt you can find parts of the economy coming to a juddering halt”.

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