The United Kingdom has voted in an election which polls suggest will be a cliff hanger with the Scottish National Party which doesn’t want to be part of the UK holding the balance of power.
In spite of that political commentator Janet Daley trusts the voters:
. . . I have to say that this tedious, seemingly endless campaign has not been unprecedentedly terrible. Nobody has made any fatal errors. And yet, we are where we are: with a Government that has succeeded against all the odds in a flat-out tie for national support with a quite absurd, cartoonist’s dream of an Opposition leadership. Or are we? Are we on the inevitable verge of a stalemate that threatens not just indecisive government but a full-blown constitutional crisis? Do an almost identical number of people really believe that it would be a good idea to put Labour back in charge, as would want to keep the Tories (or a Tory-led coalition) in power? And could this be the case, even given the startling SNP threat to kidnap a Miliband government and hold it hostage – which is a quite new element in the equation and should, by all rights, have made at least a significant difference to people’s views?
Surely, this is very strange. And it brings me to another observation that arises from watching politics here, and in the country of my birth, for much of my adult life. I have never ceased to be in awe of the pre-eminent common sense of British voters. Time and again, I have watched them come through with an unimpeachably sagacious electoral judgment in the face of (indeed, sometimes in open defiance of) noisy bullying, fashionable pressure and apparent inevitability.. . .
But what I do know is this: the threats by the SNP to “lock the Tories out of office” even if they win the largest number of seats, combined with their sneering boast that Ed Miliband “will have to change his tune” about making a deal with them after the election, has made English voters angrier than I can ever remember seeing them. I find it simply incredible (in the literal sense of the word) that this outrage is finding no clear reflection in public opinion – which makes me feel that the polling process is missing something big.
The numbers and the logic are clear and indisputable: Labour cannot win a clear majority. Ergo, a Miliband government will have to rely on the support of the SNP to pass any legislation. Ergo, if you vote Labour, you are voting to lock in the influence of the SNP over the entire country. If there are as many people who are furious about the SNP’s presumptions as there appear to be, how can this be having so little impact on the Labour voting intention?
Another thing that I know is that those who are very angry indeed about the march of imperial Scotland are going to be absolutely certain to vote. Nothing – and I do mean nothing – will keep them from the polling stations on Thursday. And that collective resolve may interfere with the accuracy of the polling predictions just as it did four years ago when so many more people than expected wanted to give the smug Progressive Alliance a bloody nose.
Maybe even the SNP will get a mild surprise on its home turf. Friends of mine in Edinburgh report that those of a pro-Union persuasion are afraid to admit their views for fear of getting a brick through their window or having their children persecuted at school. The aggressive onslaught has effectively silenced opposition – but has it extinguished it? Are there Scots who secretly resent the ferocious pressure, or fear the economic consequences of its success?
The way for a movement to gain apparent influence and power is to appear unstoppable, so that its rise seems like an historical inevitability. It is remarkably easy to be persuaded of this when you are in a crowd of shouting activists. The problem is that you are making so much noise that you don’t hear the silence of those outside the crowd.
But here’s the thing: the British do not like being shouted at. They particularly dislike being threatened – as a number of foreign aggressors have learnt to their cost. Nor do they like being taken for fools – as Miliband appears to do, when he insists that he will make no concessions to the SNP. As often as not, they give no sign of their disgust. They do not shout back. They just wait quietly for the sanctity of the voting booth and then they do what they think is right without fear or favour.
It’s Thursday morning in the UK.
We’ll know this evening, our time, what the voters think is right.