The Scottish Political Singularity is not only far from over, it's showing every sign of recomplicating, bizarrely.
From The Guardian:
a new poll by Ipsos Mori for STV showed that a record 52% of Scottish voters would vote SNP if there were an immediate general election, implying the SNP would win 54 Westminster seats - a nine-fold increase on the six seats it currently holds - leaving Labour with just four.
Carried out in part after Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont's sudden resignation last Friday, the poll put Labour at just 23% - its lowest figure in over six years, with the Tories cut to 10% and the Lib Dems down to 6%, tying with the Scottish Green party.
What does this mean?
Firstly, it's important not to read too much into this poll. It's been criticized elsewhere, and the timing (coincidental with the Scottish Labour leader and deputy leader's resignations) is iffy.
However, Scotland runs on first-past-the-post, like the rest of the UK, in general elections (of which one is due next June). And even if we knock 10% off the SNP voting intentions across the board, Labour is going to take a very deep, very cold, bath—punishment by their voters for running an unremittingly negative campaign during the referendum. Lots of Scots didn't actually want to leave the UK, but deeply resented being told that they were too wee, too poor, and too stupid to go it alone: this is the payback.
How crazy is it going to get?
Well, if the SNP pick up on the order of 50 MPs, they'll be the third largest party in Westminster (replacing the Liberal Democrats, who are in meltdown as voters desert them—the LibDem core are mostly centre-left, and the coalition with the Conservative party was pure poison for that base).
Alex Salmond, the former SNP First Minister of Scotland, has been rather coy when asked if he was going to run for Westminster in next summer's election. But he's been an MP before, and he'd be a shoo-in for a safe seat as party leader if he wanted one. In the wake of a "No" vote on independence, a Westminster seat would give him a good base on which to campaign to hold the UK party leaders' feet to the fire over promises they made during the campaign.
There are (still) going to be 650 seats in play at the election. A number will go to independents and minor parties: one or two Greens, a handful of Ulster Unionists, an indeterminate number (5-15) Liberal Democrats, plus independent MPs and maybe even a few UKIP. (My sticking-my-neck-out prognostication is that UKIP will get lots of votes, but distributed thinly enough that they win relatively few seats.) The Conservatives and Labour would, as before, each win roughly 250-300 seats. With 50 seats, the SNP would be the turd in the punchbowl: it would literally be almost impossible to form a stable government without them (unless we look at the apocalyptic scenario of a Labour/Tory coalition, which in the past has only happened during a World War government of national unity). It would be hard to spin Alex Salmond smirking and demanding Devo Max as being tantamount to Hitler! so quite possibly some sort of deal would be done. As the SNP already firmly ruled out a pact with the Conservatives (it'd be a political suicide pill for their base in Scotland), that leaves two likely options:
A full formal coalition with the Labour Party. (I think this is unlikely, although Labour might have learned a lesson from the consequences of Brown's refusal to compromise with Nick Clegg in 2010: Labour and the SNP are natural rivals for the governing party/centre-left niche in Scotland.) Terms would be: the SNP get Devo Max and some ministerial posts, and in return they vote in line with Labour policy on any items that the parties don't actually disagree on, and abstain from voting on purely English non-budgetary matters.
An understanding (like the Lib-Lab Pact of 1977) whereby a minority Labour government operates with SNP support contingent on them not pissing in the SNP's wheaties. This might work, if Labour are willing to cut a deal over Scottish powers. Otherwise ...
I could be wrong.
The most unpredictable alternative would be a landslide in the direction of UKIP. I find it hard to imagine UKIP picking up more seats than the SNP, because while they may have more voters across the UK, the SNP's are concentrated in constituencies where they stand a chance of winning: but if UKIP were to pick up 50 or so MPs, roughly matching the SNP's showing, then we're into total terra incognita in British politics. I don't think we're going to get into "rainbow coalition" territory in just one election—Labour and the Conservatives—aren't going to completely crumble just six months from now—but the number of possible combinations that could form governments in Westminster just exploded. And so did the outcomes. UKIP appear, ironically, to be intensely hostile to Scottish nationalism and devolution in general (they're a vastly stronger party in England than in Scotland, where they are out-polled three to one by the Scottish Greens). So we have the prospect of two historically ideologically polarized major parties (neither of whom can form a government without external assistance), and two ideologically polarized minor parties (one or both of whom might enable one or other of the larger parties to govern, with a tail-wind and some independent help).
Anyway: I can't be sure of the outcome, but as far as I can tell British politics is about to go sideways, very fast, next June—largely as a delayed consequence of the Scottish independence referendum. Order up the pop-corn: this is going to be interesting.