It’s a common assumption that without Scotland the Labour party would be eternally doomed, unable to ever get another majority in a Disunited Kingdom.
As Peter Oborne wrote yesterday in an otherwise excellent Telegraph column about the union:
This discrepancy has become so marked and so permanent that most political scientists calculate that Labour could not form a government without Scotland, meaning that independence would open the way to Tory control at Westminster into the foreseeable future.
The reality is in fact rather different, according to psephologists I talked to earlier in the week. There is no doubt that the Tories would benefit, given that they have one solitary MP north of the border (David Mundell) – while Labour has 41 out of 59. You don’t have to be a maths genius to work out that it would be bad for Ed Miliband’s party.
The reshifting of the political techtonic plates is accentuated by boundary changes which will remove an estimated 28 Labour MPs and only 7 Tory MPs, according to Anthony Wells at YouGov.
John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, tells me that while it would be harder for Labour to win it would not be impossible. According to Professor Curtice, Labour would still have won in 1945, 1950, 1997, 2001 and 2005.
In February 1974 there would still have been no majority but the Tories would have nudged ahead of Labour. Eight months later, Harold Wilson’s majority of three would have been obliterated.
In 2005 Labour’s majority of 66, already down steeply from 167 at the previous election, would have been halved – but Tony Blair would have still edged it.