London, May 4 (Sputnik) .- The multiple regional and local elections taking place in Britain this Thursday the 6th will determine the constitutional future of the United Kingdom and the prospects for the Labor Party to regain power under the leadership of Keir Starmer.
The polls will open in the three nations of Great Britain – England, Scotland and Wales – in a range of electoral appointments. In what is known as “super Thursday”, more than 5,000 seats are in contention in English city councils and mayors are elected in London and other large cities. Wales renews the Autonomous Assembly of Cardiff and in Scotland the composition of the Holyrood Parliament and the constitutional course of the United Kingdom are decided.
Close to the constitutional break
Only Northern Ireland will be left out of the electoral furor this crucial week, although not from its results. A nationalist victory in Scotland, in addition to the possible electoral awakening of the sovereign cause in Wales, will put the cohesion of the British union at risk. “A pro-independence majority in the Holyrood Parliament – something that the Scottish electoral system is designed to prevent from happening – will bring us closer to the breakup of the United Kingdom,” the writer Val McDermid acknowledged to Sputnik at an event with members of the Press Association Foreigner (FPA).
The Scottish National Party (SNP) marches as the favorite to victory, after ruling 14 years without interruption, the last six with Nicola Sturgeon at the helm. It is only questioned whether the nationalists will reach an absolute majority or will renew the alliance with the Green formation, which also supports independence and backed Sturgeon in the previous legislature.
The latest voting intention polls gave the SNP 66 deputies (three more than in the previous legislature) and a majority of one seat. The Green party would increase its presence in the House of 129 representatives to 11, while the projections remain uncertain about the performance of Alba, the new electoral vehicle of the former main minister and nationalist leader, Alex Salmond. A poll gives him 6 percent of the vote share and up to 3 seats in Holyrood.
“The pro-independence majority seems very likely in Scotland,” observed Sarah B Hobolt, a professor at the London School of Economics in a meeting with foreign media. Sturgeon proposes to convene the so-called Indyref2 once the coronavirus pandemic is over, towards the end of 2023, if it reaches the goal this week.
In turn, the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, reiterates his intention to stop the transfer of powers that would ensure the legitimacy of the plebiscite. His strategy against separatist currents includes the promotion of signs and symbols of the United Kingdom in projects financed by the central government and in public buildings in Scotland and Northern Ireland, nations where they are most at risk of breaking with London.
“There is a feeling that they are unfurling the flag of the union with much more visibility than before, which we do not like. It is the symbol of a union that we reject, of a colonial power that we do not particularly appreciate, ”explained the author of crime and intrigue novels.
For Anthony Barnett, co-founder of the NGO Open Democracy and instigator of the “European Union with Scotland” campaign, the United Kingdom is a “multinational union” whose days are numbered in its current structure. “The Johnson Government is using the Union Jack (British flag) as a weapon. It is not a national flag. The union, as we know it until now, is finished and there are only two options ahead: either it becomes a completely centralized union or it breaks down with Scotland leading the way, ”he defended in the teleconference with the FPA.
In England, Thursday’s election dispute is a litmus test for Keir Starmer, who took over from Labor left veteran Jeremy Corbyn after the most disastrous legislative results in decades. “The elections represent the most important examination of the triumphs and failures of parties and leaders since 2019. And the expectations for Labor are modest,” concludes Tony Travers, a professor at the LSE.
The local policy expert warns that the pandemic has “imposed itself on everything else”, including Brexit, whose negative impact on the economy and politics has been covered under the coronavirus crisis. The “super Thursday” arrives, Hobolt adds, at a “time of growing confidence and popularity of the Conservative government”, pushed by an excellent vaccination campaign and the feeling of well-being in the face of the relaxation of restrictions.
The key is centered on post-industrial municipalities in the north of England, which supported the exit from the EU in the 2016 referendum and three years later voted Tory for the first time. Starmer has erased the word Brexit from his political discourse in order to win back the working-class, poorer and predominantly white electorate that turned its back on Labor in recent years.
LSE experts believe that the task will be difficult in the scenario of the pandemic and with a conservative party that, led by Johnson, continues to be “right-wing on identity issues, but economically left-wing.” Starmer warns at the outset that the recovery from the electoral hecatomb will not materialize in a year. (Sputnik)