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The time is now and here’s why

Welcome to 2019, and the fortieth anniversary year of the only occasion in post-war history when a British government was forced to call a general election after losing a no confidence vote in the House of Commons. The SNP’s decisive role in that vote has of course become the stuff of legend, with the knife-edge result meaning that any one of the party’s eleven MPs could have swung the balance in James Callaghan’s favour if they had broken with the agreed party line. Hamish Watt, the SNP MP for Banffshire, came closest to doing that. Having cast his vote against the government, he apparently had a sudden attack of remorse and tried to vote in the “No” lobby as well. If that vote had been recorded, Watt would have been regarded as having abstained, the overall vote would have been tied, and in line with convention the Speaker would have used his casting vote to defeat the motion. The Labour administration would have lived to fight another day. But, as it happened, the “No” lobby had just shut up shop when Watt arrived.

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