ITV deputy political editor Chris Ship on why the smaller parties have a huge role to play in the election
Sturgeon’s sit-up-and-take-notice performance at the recent election debate, and the attention it garnered for the Scottish National Party, surprised us all: suddenly, previously overlooked parties were worthy of (serious) consideration. “Sturgeon often refers to the smaller parties of Scotland, Wales and the Greens in England as a ‘progressive alliance’,” explains Ship, “and says if they get enough MPs they’ll form a bloc in the Commons, as a left-wing alternative to the Labour party.” And in an election all but guaranteed to yield no clear winner, smaller parties might hold the key in choosing the next government. Below, Ship appraises the suddenly-more-credible-seeming contenders.
“Though there isn’t the same support for nationalism in Wales as in Scotland, in a similar way to the SNP, Plaid Cymru says it stands for an alternative. People might vote for them because they think Labour is not the [left-wing] party it was in the Seventies and Eighties, and because they think Wales should get a better deal.”
“George Galloway has done remarkably well to remain an MP – a former Labour politician who fought tooth and nail against the invasion of Iraq. Respect won’t have someone contesting every seat, but if you are anti-intervention, anti-war and like George Galloway’s [positive] message on the Muslim world, Respect clearly is the party you’d want to vote for.”
“It’s the English Democrats’ view that England gets a raw deal out of the United Kingdom – They believe too much attention is paid to Scotland and Wales. Their question is: what does England get? Their view is that England should have much greater representation in Westminster, and may well require its own parliament.”
Free United Kingdom Party (FUKP)
“Nigel Farage has said he will stand down as Ukip leader if he doesn’t win Thanet South, but then there’s the Pub Landlord trying to out-Ukip Ukip. Farage doesn’t see the funny side of it. There are so many big guns fighting for Thanet South, but maybe the Pub Landlord’s bloke-ishness might just do it for Murray.”