September 8, 2014 | By Parmjeet Singh
London, United Kingdom (September 07, 2014): The Sikh Federation (UK), often referred to as the one and only Sikh political party in the UK, has warned legislation should not be introduced to postpone the 2015 General Election if in 10 days time there is a Yes vote in Scotland.
If the latest opinion polls are accurate a Yes vote in the Scottish referendum on 18 September is now a real possibility. Supporters of Scottish independence are for the first time ahead in the opinion polls and MPs from the three main political parties are rattled at the prospect of a Yes vote.
A Yes vote in Scotland could make things messy in Westminster. Whilst a majority Labour government may be elected in May 2015 it would depend on a large number of Scottish Labour MPs. As Alex Salmond wants to negotiate the break up by March 2016 one of the tasks facing the UK Government elected in May 2015 would be to negotiate the break up of the UK with the Scottish government.
Practically Scottish MPs may not be deemed appropriate to be members of the UK negotiating team. That could exclude three members of Ed Miliband’s proposed cabinet – Douglas Alexander, Jim Murphy and Margaret Curran. Then there would be what happens in Westminster after the break up in March 2016.
In the long term Labour has the most to lose with a Yes vote. Over 15% (41) of the 258 seats Labour won at the last election are Scottish. Labour’s tight lead in current UK-wide polls suggests Ed Miliband would find it impossible to form either a minority government, or one in coalition with the Liberal Democrats, without the support of Scottish Mps.
If Scotland had been excluded from the 2010 election David Cameron would have had a small parliamentary majority and avoided a coalition. He would have lost just one seat in Scotland, giving the Conservatives 306 seats. Labour would have fallen from 258 to 217 seats while the Liberal Democrats would have seen their number of seats fall from 57 to 46. Some have suggested the Conservatives would therefore not be too upset with a Yes vote.
Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said:
‘We appreciate that there would be a major constitutional crisis after a Yes vote and it would be for David Cameron to deal with and place severe personal political pressure on him as the Prime Minister.’
‘However, the Fixed-term Parliaments Act of 2011, which stipulated that the next general election would take place on 7 May 2015, should not be repealed.’
‘If legislation were to be introduced David Cameron would be accused of running scared of the electorate. Postponing the election will not look good.’
‘We agree with the House of Lords constitution select committee, which has said the extension of a parliament beyond five years would be an extraordinary step constitutionally and would be seen by voters as self-serving and extending the time in power of the current government.’
The Sikh Federation (UK) is preparing for its own three-day annual party ‘conference’ in Wolverhampton in two weeks time, starting the day the results of the Scottish referendum are expected to be declared. The Federation is expected to make a number of key announcements on Sunday 21 September at its conference as both the main political parties – Labour and Conservative that are hoping to form the next government are fighting for the Sikh vote that is important in around 40 constituencies in around a dozen major towns and cities. The emergence of UKIP, party defections and now the Scottish factor are making the need for the Sikh vote an even more significant feature of the next election.
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Related Topics: Scotland Independence Referendum, Sikh Federation UK, Sikhs in United Kingdom