2016 is a big year for voters across the UK, with elections taking place in London, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and local authorities across the country, not to mention the small matter of June’s referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU. So how does the London mayoral contest compare with the election taking place in Holyrood?
1. The London mayoral election is too close to call, whereas it would take a very brave punter to bet against the SNP in Scotland.
The race for London’s City Hall is a genuine contest, with Sadiq Khan and Zac Goldsmith almost neck and neck in the polls. However, in Scotland bookies have the SNP as 66-1 odds-on favourites to win.
2. Labour members are now four times more likely to live in London that Scotland
According to figures from the Financial Times, around 40,000 new members have joined the Labour Party in London since last year’s election, compared with just 4,000 in Scotland. The fact that Labour has more chance of winning in the South East than in Scotland also shows just how much British politics has changed in the last few years.
3. The Tories could lose London but beat Labour in Scotland
There has been a lot of speculation that the Conservatives could finish ahead of Labour in the Scottish Parliament, thereby becoming Scotland’s official opposition, while Goldsmith may lose out to Khan in London. Bookmakers think that Conservatives have an equal chance of beating Labour in both London and Scotland (you can get the same odds – 7/4 – on Zac Goldsmith to win as the Scottish Tories to beat Scottish Labour).
4. The results of both elections could ultimately help define both Cameron’s and Corbyn’s leaderships
If Zac Goldsmith becomes Mayor and the Tories finish ahead of Labour in Scotland then the Prime Minister will be in a position of incredible strength going into the EU referendum. However, if Sadiq Khan wins, and Scottish Labour finish a strong second in Holyrood, then Jeremy Corbyn supporters will claim clear evidence of his national appeal. If either do badly in both then it could seriously undermine their long-term ambitions.
5. But both UK leaders are toxic to candidates
While Cameron and Corbyn are desperate to see their respective parties find success in London and Scotland, candidates are doing their best to avoid mentioning them at all. Zac Goldsmith and the Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson know that David Cameron’s name does not usually go down well with their electorates, and they are doing their best to portray themselves as a new brand of ‘nice’, green Tories. Meanwhile, Sadiq Khan is making every attempt to avoid being seen as ‘Corbyn’s man’ and Kezia Dugdale is trying to persuade voters that Scottish Labour is no longer under the control of the UK party.
6. Both contests are framed by referendums
With the EU referendum now confirmed for 23 June this year, and increasing speculation that another vote on Scotland’s place in the UK could be on the horizon, both elections are set against the backdrop of referendums on the fundamental nature of Britain’s identity.
7. Whoever wins will govern as an opposition
Whoever wins City Hall will claim to represent Londoners’ interest first and foremost, with even Goldsmith likely to be a relative thorn in the Government’s side. In Scotland, despite the fact that the SNP have been in government for 9 years they continue to portray themselves as an anti-establishment alternative, opposing the UK Government at every turn. So whatever happens, the winners will say they are the outsiders looking in.
Whatever the results in May, there will certainly be no shortage of political speculation and interest over the next few months in both London and Scotland!