Presenter Sarah Lowther was joined on Share Radio by Westminster’s Professor Peter Catterall to discuss two significant political stories dominating the news.
Professor Catterall was first interviewed on the Labour Party membership being expected to fall below half a million for the first time since its peak under Jeremy Corbyn. On being asked what impact this figure could have on the party, Professor Catterall answered: “It now is gradually falling and that is going to have knock-on effects on the party in terms of their finance. They are already becoming more dependent on certain unions, such as Unite, and they are not really making any headway in the polls either.”
He also mentioned the potential fiscal impact of this drop in the Labour Party budget which could have significant consequences on their campaigning and marketing abilities: “We already know that for the first time the liberal democrats raised more money than the Labour party did, and that was partly because they got a one off donation of one million, but if it is the sign of a trend when you’ve got Labour membership only raising about half as much as the Tories, that is going to start impacting upon them when they are already behind, it will also mean that they are more dependent on big doners like Unite.”
Professor Catterall also answered questions on the Scottish Parliament who are expected to win a vote calling for a second independence referendum: “Technically, this would need an approval from Westminster, which Theresa May has said she would not support on the grounds that the 2014 referendum was supposed to be a once in a lifetime event, of course this is politics and therefore there is nothing written in stone saying that you cannot have another referendum. […] In practice, Westminster can refuse a second referendum, but what happens if Scotland gets another referendum anyway? What are we going to do if it is overwhelmingly in favour of the independence? Of course the likelihood at the moment is that there won’t be. The polls suggest that the outcome of a referendum would be fairly similar to the outcome of the 2014 referendum.”
He added: “If Scotland ended up being in the EU but England isn’t, 71 percent of Scottish exports go south and therefore having a customs barrier at the borders is not a terribly attractive option. There are a number of reasons why this is a very difficult scenario, and of course, in the sense of what Nicola Sturgeon is trying to do is to get the British government to actually think about the consequences of what they are doing in a situation where we know that David Davis seems to be approaching the upcoming negotiations with insouciance.”