The promise of a second EU referendum could shoot the Lib Dem canary

The promise of a second EU referendum could shoot the Lib Dem canary

by Jonathan Stanley
article from Wednesday 26, April, 2017

WE WERE WAITING for the Liberal democrats to jump the shark weren't we? How could they possibly push the Remoan vote even higher following their win in Richmond Park recently? Surely they couldn't be so stupid as to call for a second EU referendum, while fighting to win back seats in Scotland where the second Scottish referendum threat is dominating the debate?

Surely they couldn't be so silly?

Tim Farron has sadly done just that by promising a second referendum on the EU. Four of their top 20 targets seats are in Scotland, all previously held by unionists. Unionists who find a second independence referendum about as appealing as being keelhauled along an oil tanker. The Lib Dem fightback has gone south of the border, even if it hasn't yet gone south entirely.

Let's see what they could have won:

East Dunbartonshire is being contested again by Jo Swinson, who lost to the SNP in 2015 by a tiny margin. Her previous vote was 36 per cent and the Tories were on 8.6 per cent but they were as high as 15 per cent in 2010.

Edinburgh West is being eyed up by a telegenic (if rather plastic) Alex Cole Hamilton MSP. The Lib Dem vote in 2015 was 33 per cent against 12 per cent. Tory Stewart Geddes got it to 23 per cent in 2010.

North East Fife was a long standing Lib Dem-Tory fight, but is now a SNP marginal. Miles Briggs MSP managed 22 per cent in 2010 but last time round it was only 16.3 per cent to the blue team.

Caithness Sutherland and Ross is now SNP held, barely, but a natural Liberal stronghold and there's little chance the SNP will hold it. The tory vote was remained suppressed for many elections now.

Do I think these seats could turn blue? Well, the first three are not as indefensible as we may first think. The Tories have pounded the anti referendum drum so hard we've forgotten what Willie Rennie even sounds like now. Farron stirring up second referendum talk should make Scots very nervous, and I think it's no great fantasy to think Tories can turn these points into prizes.

If, and it's a big ask, the party doubled-down against the Lib Dems instead of giving them a clear run, it could take out the Lib Dem fightback this election. It may mean one or two more SNP MPs survive but they'd be bloodied. The trend is a falling SNP vote, falling support for independence and a will to just get on with life without any more shakeups. 

Long term the Lib Dems are a threat by being a focus for a centrist opposition that's very pro EU to the point of undermining Brexit, harming us badly. We should not be in such a rush to do them a favour. 

John Lamont has just quit Holyrood to fight the Westminster seat hard. Hard to remember it was Liberal Democrat held until two years ago, they are nowhere in the running now. The unionist vote can swing that quickly, CCHQ would be wise to take note of that swing as much as John Lamont's chances of winning.

Voting for a second EU referendum will only by used by the SNP later to show their is appetite and support for it. Those who backed remain in Scotland must now be wondering if getting the Scotland-England gap so high was really worth it, given the way the First Minister has behaved. 

We said no to a second referendum.

We meant it.

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