Can Scottish Labour win back power by ignoring the SNP?

Can Scottish Labour win back power by ignoring the SNP?

Is it possible to make it a British not a Scottish election?

At a briefing session this week organised by the Political Studies Association Professor James Mitchell of Strathclyde University made this cogent point about the elections to the devolved Scottish parliament at Holyrood:-

“Evidence suggests that if this election becomes a referendum on the coalition in London, then Labour is likely to be the largest party but if it focuses on which party is most competent to govern Scotland in the difficult times ahead then the SNP will emerge as the largest party.”

Normally you’d expect a party trying to win back power would focus all its efforts on attacking those that displaced them last time – in this case Alex Salmond’s SNP. But Scottish Labour has to harness the force that’s been driving them in the national polls – opposition to the CON-LD coalition that came to power in Westminster last May.

So, in effect, the strategy involves giving the SNP an almost free ride as all the rhetoric is focussed on what the Tories and the Lib Dems are doing at Westminster.

Thus a quick search through the 98 pages of the Scottish Labour manifesto produces not a single reference to the SNP.

This is going to be a very difficult trick to pull off not least because of the personalities involved.

Scottish Labour politicians, as we saw last week in the first debate, can’t help themselves but put the boot into Salmond’s lot – and the more they do that the more it undermines to core strategy.

There’s also the Scottish media who, inevitably, are portraying this as a battle between the two big political forces in the country.

Bet365 still have the SNP at 2/1 to win most seats. I think that’s a value bet and I’ve put more on overnight.

Mike Smithson

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