With the announcement of the snap election on June 8th, Scotland will go to the polls twice in 35 days. In Scotland, they are unlikely to thank the Prime Minister for calling the election as they’ve had to go the polls every year since 2014.
The Local Elections on May 4th will be a test of the Tory message of ‘no to second referendum’. The Tory strategy is effectively to concentrate all of the Unionist vote. In those elections they will make gains and this will allow them to show ‘momentum’. However equally the SNP will be able to do so with major gains expected including hurting Labour in Glasgow, one of their last remaining strongholds. Also, the lack of time between the two elections means it will be difficult for parties to change the message if it hasn’t worked.
The SNP will ruthlessly attack hypocrisy of Prime Minister May saying “now is not the time” for a second referendum as it is apparently a perfectly fine time to have a General Election. They will of course also point out that the Prime Minister was adamant she was not going have one.
The polling in Scotland is essentially similar to that of England – the Tories there are doing almost as well as the SNP in Scotland and the Tories in Scotland are doing as bad as Labour in England. The SNP will be somewhat concerned with a handful of seats in the Borders and the North East – but as they are polling 45%+ they are unlikely to be too worried about any major change.
The SNP lines will be clear and very similar to the last General Election, “elect us to stand up for Scotland”. They will say it is a straight choice between the Tories and the SNP. It will be a vote against more cuts, to mitigate against a hard Brexit, and defend the right to have a referendum.
The SNP will be explicit in their manifesto about that right to hold an independence referendum. If they do as well as predicted that will give them yet another ‘cast-iron’ mandate to do so. This is why Nicola Sturgeon says the Prime Minister has made a miscalculation.
This election couldn’t come at a worse time for Scottish Labour. No money, low in the polls, and likely to be wiped out in the council elections, then come a distant third in the General Election – it truly is the sum of all fears.
The Liberal Democrats could see an increase in their vote but they are unlikely to make any gains. If it is a catastrophically bad night for Labour they might even have a sniff at third place.