Scottish Labour’s Sturgeon Slump explained: There wasn’t one.
I was reading this article on the BBC about the Scottish Council Election results which contains the following quote from the Labour MSP James Kelly.
Sturgeon surge has turned into a Sturgeon slump
How can Nicola Sturgeon claim to speak for all of Scotland having secured less than a third of the vote? In 2015 the SNP secured half of the Scottish vote, and these official figures show that has now plummeted by 18 points.
It seems it isn’t just Kelly. The Scottish Labour Sturgeon Slump is a thing and it even has it’s own hashtag. Obviously, someone more skilled at alliteration than political strategy has come up with the slogan. It sounds OK but the complete separation of its meaning from reality really lets it down somewhat.
The only way a Sturgeon Slump can be found is by comparing the results of the Local Election to the results of the Holyrood and General Elections. In the context of the BBC article this is unfortunate as it contains a quote from Professor John Curtice explaining that:
The two figures, the 32% the party won last week and the 50% it secured two years ago, are not directly comparable with each other.
What James Kelly should be doing is comparing the SNP Local Election results this year to the SNP Local Election results in 2012.
If you do that then in percentage terms the SNP vote hasn’t changed. The slump he refers to is actually at worst a consolidation. You could even argue the result shows a rise in support as the SNP have increased the number of Councilors they have as well as the number of votes that were cast for them.
In contrast, if one examines the performance of James Kelly’s party they have actually lost one third of their vote.
You see why Kelly finds it easier to compare apples and pears as comparing like for like makes uncomfortable reading for his own party. Although, maybe if Labour were less disingenuous more people might actually vote for them.
While I’m at it let’s answer Kelly’s rhetorical question:
How can Nicola Sturgeon claim to speak for all of Scotland having secured less than a third of the vote?
Brace yourself James, it’s because she’s the First Minister. It’s in the job description.
Additional functions of the First Minister include promoting and representing Scotland, in an official capacity, at home and abroad
She doesn’t do what all of us want her to do as that would be preposterous as we all have different opinions.
She does represent what the majority of us voted for in the actual election that decided the make-up of the Scottish government.
We voted for a pro-independence majority parliament.
That parliament voted to hold an independence referendum. Sturgeon is fighting to fulfill the will of the parliament and the will of the Scottish people as expressed in the EU referendum. This is what people refer to as democracy. It’s not perfect but it’s better than most of the alternatives. It’s a much better system than trying to decipher the national mood by a poor interpretation of the Council Election results.
Now Sturgeon’s party still won the Local Elections comfortably.
However, this doesn’t actually matter because Local Elections are local. The clue is in the name. Even if the SNP had done as poorly as Labour, Sturgeon would still be the First Minister and, as such, has the authority to speak for the nation. She has a mandate to do what she thinks is best for Scotland and to carry out the will of the parliament.
The General Election is only weeks away. If the Sturgeon Slump was real then it’s hard to see why Labour would gloat about it as they are not the ones who are going to benefit. The Tories will, in fact it was the Tories who actually invented the phrase.
The problem for Labour is that in the General Election the SNP are going to win the vast majority of seats. Labour might not even win one. The handful of Labour voters stupid enough to buy into the Sturgeon Slump will be utterly astounded at next month’s SNP revival. Seeing the SNP go from slump to dominance in a few weeks is going to completely confound Scottish Labour’s last remaining acolytes.
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