That gives them time to try and get the cost-of-living crisis behind them, as it’s going to get worse, much worse, before any let up might allow even the slightest perception of the tide turning.
If that happens, then the mantra that ‘it was all the war in Ukraine that caused it’ will play and Boris Johnson, assuming he survives Partygate, may well lead them into the contest.
If not, it’ll be ‘begone Prime Minister’ and ‘it was all his fault’ but you can trust the new incumbent, even if that now looks unlikely to be current Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
But what of the opposition? For the first time, Labour have been having small but relatively consistent leads in the polls. Not much of a lead though given the scale of the crisis and the level of incompetence displayed by this UK Government in handling it. That the Tories are still in touching distance and even sometimes in the lead is really quite incredible.
But that’s the situation and it’s affecting Labour strategy. There’s a push to the right and a purge of the left. The reason for that is there’s an acceptance amongst the Labour leadership that they can’t win outright and the best they can do is seek to form a minority government with the Lib Dems. The SNP, whatever they may wish or seek, aren’t even in consideration, other than to be excluded with a referendum not on offer.
An arrangement with the Lib Dems though is what Starmer wants. A majority Labour government is conceded as being very unlikely. Scotland has been largely written off and therefore cooperation with the Lib Dems is required, with Lib Dem victories in the south and west of England being needed to allow Labour simply to become the largest party.
Where does that leave the Left? The Labour left has largely ducked down saying they’ll live to fight another day, but will they? Hopes that a rump Left group can influence that Labour/Lib Dem government are fanciful.
They’ll simply be told to suck it up or vote the government down, thereby letting in the Tories. That’s been the plight of most Labour governments and the only change under Starmer is that this would be the most right wing one since Ramsay MacDonald.
But what of Scotland? With an election in 2024, there’s no chance of a referendum the year before. In any event, it’s not Boris who has blinked but Sturgeon, as yet another excuse to delay action’s discovered.
The most likely outcome of the election’s still a Tory victory albeit with a reduced majority. But even a hung parliament offers no influence or real change for Scotland. That means there’s neither SNP action nor Labour cavalry coming over the hill to save Scotland.
It’s why a push for independence is required and if SNP won’t do it, others must.