SNP: Another chance to make the case for independence?
The political landscape in Scotland is unlikely to shift significantly in June, with the SNP confident of another strong showing.
The party continues to poll well ahead of any other at around 45%. With the first-past-the-post electoral system, the SNP will be confident of retaining most, although not all, of its seats at Westminster. With Nicola Sturgeon currently polling as the most popular politician in Scotland she is again likely to feature at the centre of the SNP’s campaign, despite not standing for election.
Party officials are also confident that the campaign machine, and its membership base of over 100,000 people, will be able to move seamlessly from the local election campaigns to a general election campaign.
While the SNP will likely lose a small handful of seats in June, the party could welcome the opportunity to rid itself of scandal-stricken MPs Natalie McGarry and Michelle Thomson, both of whom were suspended from the Party whip shortly after their election in 2015, and will be ineligible for selection in 2017.
The Conservatives will be hoping to build on their successes at the Scottish Parliament elections, and are likely to pick up a small handful of seats, particularly in the Borders and the north east. The big question for the Conservatives in Scotland will be whether Ruth Davidson decides to stand. However with an independence referendum potentially on the horizon, she may feel Holyrood is the best place for her to make a case for the union.
Labour looks certain to continue to struggle in Scotland, with the Party unlikely to pick up any seats in June. Yet the party’s sole MP north of the border, Ian Murray, has built a strong local brand in Edinburgh South and will be confident of holding off the SNP again.
The Lib Dems may be confident of a small resurgence, with a pitch to pro-remain, pro-union voters across Scotland. However it should be remembered that they suffered their worst ever Scottish elections in 2016, finishing in fifth place behind the Green Party.
So where does this leave Sturgeon’s plans for a second independence referendum?
Nicola Sturgeon has been adamant this morning that her position on a second referendum is “clear and will continue to be clear throughout this campaign.”
A strong showing for the SNP in June will only increase calls for another referendum to be held according to the SNP’s timescale. June 2017 may be a battle, but the war is yet to come.
Robbie Summers is an Account Executive at Portland and was a contributor to the BBC’s general election coverage in 2015.