What will future elections look like with Scottish Independence?

As we approach the Scottish independence referendum it is both interesting and important to consider all the consequences a victory for the ‘Yes’ vote may have on the remaining part of the Union, that is Northern Ireland, England and Wales. One of the most immediately apparent and dramatic of which would likely be upon the balance of power in Parliament. One can hazard a crude guess at what Westminster might look like without Scotland by going back to look at the figures of previous elections.

First though it might be interesting to begin by looking at how well represented each country in the Union was at the last election. These figures are rather rough as although the population estimates are all recent they are not all from the same year.

UK total: 650 seats – 63.23 million people, one seat per every 97, 277 members of the population.

  • Wales:  40 seats – 3.064 million people, one seat per every 76, 600 members of the population.
  • Scotland: 59 seats – 5.295 million people, one seat per every 89, 746 members of the population.
  • England: 533 seats – 53.01 million people, one seat per every 99, 446 members of the population.
  • Northern Ireland: 18 seats – 1.811 million people, one seat per every 100, 611members of the population.

We see that Scotland is more generously represented than England or Northern Ireland, but not by more than Wales is in comparison to Scotland. Thus although not as promising as Wales, Scotland (by these calculations) presents a valuable site for harvesting votes. The downside is though that the Scottish seats are just less than a 10th of all Parliamentary seats.

Now we go on to looking at previous general elections and removing Scotland from the equation and having a look at what trends emerge. It should be noted that any speculation taken from this fails to take into account boundary changes either previous or yet to come.

2010

What will future elections look like with Scottish Independence?
What will future elections look like with Scottish Independence?

The change is drastic. Although the Conservative hold only a slim majority there is certainly no need to form a coalition for David Cameron to become Prime Minister. The Tories take power with strong mandate to take the tough choices they deem necessary to sorting out the economy. Labour still retain a little over 45% of seats.

2005

What will future elections look like with Scottish Independence?
What will future elections look like with Scottish Independence?

Here the change is much less dramatic, despite that at this time Scotland held a larger proportion of the seats in Parliament than in 2010, in fact the change barely shows. Blair continues to govern with a reduced majority. Perhaps the interesting feature is the resemblance bourn between the charts representing the 2005 and 2010 elections without Scotland; they appear almost identical except that the Labour and Conservative parties have switched places. This swap over certainly seems to dampen suggestions that without Scotland every general election will be an open goal for the Tories.

2001

What will future elections look like with Scottish Independence?
What will future elections look like with Scottish Independence?

Again, very little difference between the two charts. Blair wins a second landslide victory with or without Scotland.

1997

What will future elections look like with Scottish Independence?
What will future elections look like with Scottish Independence?

There was so little change between the 1997 and 2001 elections that it is certainly not surprising these how similar these look to the graphs above. In all four graphs Labour are unquestionably dominant.

1992

What will future elections look like with Scottish Independence?
What will future elections look like with Scottish Independence?

Finally, some change! The consequence of removing the Scottish vote isn’t as dramatic as for the 2010 election, however it certainly makes Major’s drab majority of ten a whole lot safer. Without Scotland the Conservative position look similar to that of Labours in 2005, back when it seemed wholly possible that although loosing popularity that they might just win the next election as well.

We also see with the removal of Scotland that the Lib Dems get noticeably dwarfed by the ‘Others’ slice, mostly represent the parties limited to Northern Ireland in their campaign. With much reduced support for Nick Clegg’s party, consistency in the Northern Ireland parties retaining their ground, and much increased support for UKIP and successes for the Greens – this is something that can easily be imagined happening again in a future in which Scotland is independent.

In some way of conclusion, from looking back over the last two decades worth of election results it would certainly be a bit of a stretch to say that any particular trends have emerged. For me the most significant points to be considered are that Labour can clearly still do well without Scotland. That the loss of many left aligned seats can be a huge boon to the Tories of time of division and indecision should be no surprise, but we see that in a future without the Union we see a clear possibility that it would be a game changer.

online poll by Opinion Stage