After losing all-but one of their 41 seats to the SNP at last May’s General Election, it didn’t seem possible that politics in Scotland could get any worse for Labour. Alas, now it seems they’re losing ground to the Tories too.
Labour were 25 percentage points ahead of the Conservatives in Scotland at the 2010 General Election, and still pulled in twice as many votes north of the border as the blues in the last Scottish Parliament election a year later, but many believe the parties are as good as neck and neck going into this week’s Holyrood poll.
Were Labour to slip behind the Tories in the popular vote, or even scrape second by a small margin, it could all be too much for leader Kezia Dugdale, although the prospect of the party electing a fifth Scottish figurehead in as many years may work in her favour.
The breakout star of the election has clearly been Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson, with a recent poll from the Guardian suggesting the 37-year-old former journalist could pull off the unthinkable and bag second with 23 seats to Labour’s 20, leaving Dugdale and co 17 MSP’s worse off than their current tally.
Davidson’s remarkable success in an area of Britain the Tories seemed to have given up on prompted this tip from the Financial Times’ principal political columnist Janan Ganesh on the BBC’s Sunday Politics over the weekend:
“The result I’m beginning to think might end up being quite historic is in Scotland…
“If the Tories finish second it will confirm Ruth Davidson as the most interesting, maybe the most talented politician of the next generation, and there will be a lot of pressure from the London branch of the Tory party to tempt her down in some form.”
Ladbrokes make Davidson their 50/1 joint-17th favourite to be next Conservative leader. If Britain votes to leave the EU next month then Prime Minister David Cameron will likely be forced to step down shortly after, probably to be replaced by 7/4 favourite Boris Johnson or 5/1 shot Michael Gove.
If we vote to stay, then a chain of events leading to Davidson’s Downing Street elevation wouldn’t be quite so fanciful – Cameron could legitimately hang on until late 2019, leaving three and a half years for the Edinburgh native to stake her claim for the top job.
The crowded market to succeed the PM gives an indication of the chaos ahead for the Tories. No one, except maybe Jeremy Hunt, can be ruled out and certainly not a proven leader reaching parts of the electorate her party hasn’t in decades.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing