The Independence vote in Scotland on 18th September will likely have an immediate effect on British politics if Scotland decides to vote ‘Yes’. It would most likely see a speedy dissolution of the governing Conservative – Liberal Democrat coalition.
Although, the next general election isn’t until May next year and Scotland would not sucede from the United Kingdom until March 2016 it looks likely that the Conservatives would immediately end the Coalition and attempt to govern on their own for the remaining 6 months of the, now statutory, 5 year term despite the fact that the 59 Scottish MPs would still be able to sit and vote in the House of Commons.
Currently, there are 303 Conservative MPs and 56 Liberal Democrat MPs, meaning the Coalition government has 359 MPs, a majority of 68 seats over all other parties combined in the 650 seat parliament. The largest opposition grouping are Labour with 257 MPs.
However, 59 seats are held by Scottish MPs and despite the fact that they will still be able to vote, they will immediately become ‘second class’ MPs. Everyone in the political establishment will be at great pains to deny this but it would be extremely damaging if any Scottish MPs attempted to interfere in the governance of the UK and with only 6 months to go before a general election, it would be extremely counter-productive to attempt to do so.
Of the 59 Scottish MPs only 1 is Conservative, 41 are Labour and 11 are Liberal Democrat and 6 are SNP.
Excluding the ‘second class’ Scottish MPs following a ‘Yes’ vote, the members of Parliament still with the political and moral authority in the House of Commons to overthrow a government would number 591. Of those, 302 would be Tory giving them an overall majority.
Labour would have 206 (from 257) ‘first class’ MPs, while the Lib Dems would have 45 ( from 56)
Talk of ‘first class’ and ‘second class’ members of parliament might seem fanciful but the political calculation that the Conservatives will make will be that if the Labour party or Lib Dems attempted to use Scottish MPs in a vote of no confidence in such a ‘minority’ Conservative government it would ultimately be politically damaging for both parties in any general election that might follow.