Instead of micro-demographic categories, what we’ll need to understand are dreams. These can be reduced to three geospatial identities, which I’ve labelled Scandi-Scotland, the asset-rich south-east and post-industrial Britain.
The whole drama of the election rests on the fact that none of the major parties has fully accepted the emergence of these new faultlines, and are still trying to capture a political centre that does not exist.
Let’s start with Scandi-Scotland. If the polls are right, the next parliament will be dominated by the issue of Scottish independence. If you think this was settled in last September’s referendum, you’d be wrong. Large numbers of Scots, even some who voted no, have formed an identity best summed up by the pre-referendum poster that said: “Welcome to the warm south of Scandinavia”. It is left-social democratic in content, but globalist and Europeanist in reach. Whatever the unionist parties say about a coalition with the SNP, the question of whether this dream can be fulfilled within the UK will be crucial.
Paul Mason’s missed the same thing that most Scots have missed. Sure, the Scandis are high tax, high welfare state, high redistribution types of places.
They’re also, underneath that, rather more vehemently classically liberal free market types of places than the UK or US are. It’s rather what makes the places work in fact. And there’s just no way at all that the SNP, or Scottish Labour, would countenance the sort of economic freedom that this implies. And, sad to say it, but the high tax high redistribution model doesn’t actually seem to work unless you’re running over that free market economy.