Thursday, May 06, 2021
Chance for a “sexit” referendum?
Scotland moves to elect fate
Scottish regional elections are also about the bigger picture: are there enough supporters of secession from Britain? People are divided on this issue and British Prime Minister Johnson remains stubborn. There is also a historical alternative to Labor in north-east England.
Is Scotland heading for a second independence referendum? Today’s election to the regional parliament in the British part of the country may provide an answer to this question. In addition to Scotland, a new regional parliament will also be elected in Wales. In London and many other cities and counties in England, people are allowed to appoint new mayors and district councils.
It is elections especially in Scotland that can have long-term consequences. The Scottish National Party (SNP), currently ruling with the tolerance of the Scottish Greens, is hoping for an absolute majority. If it succeeds, Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon believes British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will have “no moral justification” for standing in the way of a new independence referendum in Scotland. Johnson has so far vehemently rejected such a vote on the so-called Skexit.
The British Prime Minister is extremely unpopular in Scotland. According to a recent survey by the University of Bristol and King’s College London, three quarters of Scots (72 per cent) distrust the British prime minister when it comes to fighting the pandemic. The majority of Scots (55 percent) also believe that the government in London has not done well in the fight against the coronavirus overall.
SNP close to absolute majority
With an absolute majority, it is expected that the SNP will have a clear mandate for the referendum and could put more pressure on London. For those in favor of freedom, voting is therefore a “choice of fate”. In the first referendum in 2014, 55 percent of Scotland’s people spoke out against union with England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
“Polls suggest a 50:50 probability of an absolute SNP majority,” election researcher John Curtis of the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow tweeted on Wednesday. The Conservatives are likely to finish second again, ahead of the Labor Party, which once dominated Scotland.
It may take till Saturday to finalize the final result. In any case, Sturgeon could again hope for the support of the Greens, who, according to polls, should improve their result in this election by six to ten percent of the other votes. In elections in Scotland, as in Germany, the first vote for direct mandate elections and the second vote for candidates coming to parliament through regional lists.
Labor seeks to retake “red wall”
Particular attention is also paid to a by-election for a member of the House of Commons in the north-eastern English town of Hartlepool. The former elector of the opposition Labor Party resigned following allegations of harassment. Hartlepool is part of the former home country of the British Social Democrats. At the same time, support for leaving the EU was particularly high in the north-east of England. Johnson’s Conservatives were able to take a strong lead there in the last general election of 2019.
Should Hartlepool also fall to the Tories now, it would be a massive blow to Labor leader Keir Starmer, who has set a goal of recapturing the so-called Red Wall. There is already doubt within the party about his leadership potential. Both sides are aware of the special significance of this by-election, Prime Minister Johnson campaigned personally in Hartlepool on Monday. Results are expected on Friday.
In the election for mayor in London, Labour’s incumbent Sadiq Khan was clearly ahead in the recent polls. Five years ago he became the first Muslim mayor of a western capital. He took over from the current Prime Minister, Johnson. Khan’s victory would be crucial for Labor given the current leadership debate. Khan’s rival candidate is Conservative Sean Bailey, whose family is from Jamaica. The counting of votes could go on till Sunday.
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