The Prime Minister has announced that, contrary to the demands of the nationalists (and certain allies of opportunity from the ranks of the Europhiles), there will be no artificial supermajority imposed on the upcoming referendum on Britain’s EU membership.
The Daily Express describes how Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, had demanded that England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should all need to endorse an Out vote in order for Britain to secede from the European Union.
Some fear that they SNP might use a British vote to leave as an excuse for a second referendum, although legally only the UK Government can all one.
In response to this demand, Cameron pointed out that the Nationalists did not offer localised vetoes to their own people during the referendum to leave the United Kingdom. Quoted in the Express, he said: “They didn’t give Orkney and Shetland an opt out, or the Borders an opt out, so this is a UK pledge, it will be delivered for the UK.”
The demand for a veto has overtones of the upcoming battle over the Human Rights Act, where opponents of change are trying to conjure on behalf of the devolved assemblies the right to block Westminster legislation on reserved areas.
Election could see off fourth leader as SDLP face 2016
Left Foot Forward reports that Alasdair McDonnell, the leader of the Northern Irish soft-nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) is facing calls to resign following the general election.
On the night the SDLP, which caucuses with Labour on an informal basis in the Commons, suffered a 2.6 per cent fall in support – the largest amongst Northern Ireland’s major parties. However it managed to hold on to all three of its current Westminster seats.
Apparently others within the party are worried that McDonnell, who represents Belfast South in Parliament, is ill-positioned to lead his party into next year’s provincial elections.
With the gradual end of ‘double jobbing’ (wherein Ulster politicians would be MLAs and MPs simultaneously), both Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionists are now led from Stormont. The Ulster Unionists have just seen their leader elected to Westminster, leaving both smaller parties in the same predicament.
Belfast South is one of two nationalist-held constituencies which could return a unionist MP in the right circumstances, so SDLP strategists may also want McDonnell to be an undistracted constituency representative.
The leader himself claims that he won’t stand down, with the BBC quoting him as refusing to leave “a task half done”. It isn’t entirely clear what that job is, though.
One party leader who won’t be challenged, of course, is Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein. Writing in the Irish Independent Ruth Dudley-Edwards provides a well-curated tour of the party’s disappointing general election and the apparent lack of lessons learned.
Scottish Greens hope to sextuple their representation in Holyrood
In our dissection of the Conservative campaign in Scotland, we reported the concerns of one activist about the potential growth of the Scottish Greens.
They argued that if the SNP swept the board in the constituencies as they did at Westminster, the Greens could benefit from tactical voting by Nationalists in the regional lists, in order to boost the number of separatist MSPs in the new Parliament.
Patrick Harvie, their leader, had a good referendum and was one of the more effective spokesmen for the ‘Yes’ campaign. Now The Herald reports that he is talking up the prospect of increasing Green representation in the next parliament six-fold, from two MSPs to twelve.
He reportedly intends to mimic the strategy the SNP deployed in the general election: selling the prospect of a smaller party acting as a brake, whip, and conscience to a minority government. He also confirms the hope that Nationalist voters will endorse the Greens to shut out Labour MSPs.
Although on a smaller scale to the SNP Green membership has risen sharply since the referendum, from 1,700 to over 9,000. The party is now bumping along at between eight and ten per cent in the polls, compared to the 4.38 per cent it took in 2011.
Jones warns against holding EU referendum concurrently with devolved elections
Carwyn Jones, the first minister of Wales and most senior elected Labour politician in the kingdom, has called for the Government’s proposed EU referendum not to run alongside the 2016 Welsh elections.
According to Wales Onlinehe joined politicians from the other pro-European parties, Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats, to insist that the referendum not be allowed to “overshadow” elections to the Welsh Assembly.
Stephen Crabb, the Welsh Secretary, has acknowledged such concerns and emphasised the importance of keeping devolved elections distinct from others. They have previously been rescheduled to avoid clashing with the UK general election.