Would independence mean a permanent Tory majority?

Anyone who wishes to see a left-leaning Labour government in England should be rooting firmly for a No vote.

Anyone who wishes to see a left-leaning Labour government in England should be rooting firmly for a No vote

One of the most often repeated assumptions about the impending Scottish independence referendum is that a Yes vote would effectively mean the end of the Labour party in the rest of the UK.

With a Yes vote Labour would ultimately lose 41 of its MPs, while the Conservatives would lose just one. This, so argue, would result in an inbuilt majority for the Conservatives.

First of all it’s important to point out that the doomsday scenario – Scotland becoming independent – would not banish Labour from the corridors of power in what’s left of the UK. Even without Scotland, Labour would still have won power in 1997, 2001 and 2005 – albeit with a reduced majority.

The Conservatives may have won a few of the more pivotal elections – 1964 for example – but there is very little to suggest that Labour would have been confined to the electoral wilderness. The party would simply have had smaller majorities when in power.

So in sum, fears on an ‘inbuilt Tory majority’ are overblown’.

Where an independent Scotland almost certainly would make a difference, however, is in the nature of the Labour governments we would see in what remained of the UK. Indeed, while it would be an exaggeration to talk of the death of Labour in the rest of the UK, a Yes vote would likely move Labour to the right in an attempt to win over English voters, who as a rule vote to the right of Scottish voters.

In other words, future Labour governments would look a lot more like Tony Blair than Ed Miliband. Which makes it all the more peculiar to see some English progressives cheering on the Yes camp. Anyone who wishes to see a left-leaning Labour government in England should be rooting firmly for a No vote.

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