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19 november 2016, what not to do when you’re not the party

Trump. Moving swiftly on, or back, to brexit. The phoney war continues. In the background, the parties as ever, keenly assessing how their stance is going to play out. Labour, like a rabbit caught in the headlights, seems incapable of firming up its stance, in the hope that by neither being seen to challenge the referendum's "democratic decision" nor too much alienating "the 48%", it has a way through to bernie sanders-like (non) victory. It does not. The reason the scottish nationalist party did and do so very well (see 9 may 2015, 331 not out) is that over the last years, scottish politics has reorientated itself most strongly around a single fulcrum issue: independence. On one side, splendidly alone, sits the snp, so mopping up the almost-half of the electorate that sympathises. The other half are hopelessly split between all the other parties. The reason the conservatives astoundingly came second in the last elections is because those that are anti aren't looking for a cover their bases with some nationalist type argumentation halfway house, but are attracted more strongly to the real deal. There lies the peril for labour in england. In the period to come, brexit looks strongly like being such a fulcrum-issue, so replicating the scenario south of the border where if you want to vote for that, you know who to go to - and it won't be labour. The conservatives are ever more the brexit means brexit means brexit party. That is now their platform. Meanwhile, the libdems have got the memo and are seeking to monopolise the other side of the divide by being unambiguously of "the 48" - so if you do want to stay in the eu, you know who to vote for too. They look to have a very good chance on that basis in the forthcoming richmond by-election. As for labour, stuck in the no-man's land of the brexit middle can only come off if it ceases to be the issue, which looks highly unlikely in the run-up to the next general election, whenever that ends up being.