Blukip and the Black Hole

test-inline-portraitBy Mike Small

As the full horror of Nigel Farage emerges into the daylight, the prospect of keeping the Tories out appears alongside the very real need to keep UKIP out too. The gin-swilling bigot was emboldened by his new cash injection courtesy of Dirty Des at the Express and again trotted out his disgraceful homophobic line about HIV patients from abroad before shouting about the audience being ‘left-wing’. He may be flush with cash but he’s politically spent. Last night he just looked like a grubby little racist, red in the face and barking at the moon.

As the SNP surge continues last night was an extraordinary moment as three strong articulate women put forward a progressive alternative to the Austerity Union. It reminds you to what extent the broadcast news is routinely framed. Here was, by mistake, an alternative voice being given proper air time. Just think how Question Time is regularly stuffed with UKIP and the right, or filled by conservative cultural voices. This was refreshingly different and Sturgeon, Bennett and Wood shone.

But if the Plaid, Green, SNP alliance develops there are other changes afoot in a fast-changing political landscape.It is not, as some have suggested just a repeat of the referendum. This is not just Project Fear 2.

This is becoming evident today as we have the Labour manifesto launch, as Murphy tries desperately to find traction.

As Ewan Crawford said last week: “The Gordon Brown idea of the Union as a partnership where resources are “pooled and shared” has been ditched in favour of a different conception of the UK, where Scotland is depicted, falsely, as a dependent. In Labour’s new formulation, growth and wealth are to be reserved to one part of the UK – the south-east of England – with Scotland, and other areas presumably, as grateful recipients. Mr Murphy has been making a great deal of the largesse that will apparently come up the A1 once Labour gets its hands on the tax system. At times, the former Scottish secretary gives the impression that it is only by taxing the mansion dwelling non-dom millionaire class of London that the imminent collapse of not only the Scottish health service, but our school system and much of the fabric of public life as we know it, can be avoided.”

CCvkuo1WEAA-KD3This is the inevitable consequence of the narrative Labour have had to develop, and it is what is killing them.

We are beggars, and lazy beggars at that, or so John McTernan thinks. Last year he wrote:

“Scotland is doing very well, thank you. When it comes to public spending, it is a mendicant nation, always looking for more…”

Under this logic, it’s not just that we couldn’t survive as an independent nation, we can barely survive as a dependent one. This is what the Labour Party thinks of us. Or rather that’s what the last remaining people in the bunker think.

Last week they tried desperately to focus on the apparent ‘black hole’ of Full Fiscal Autonomy. It made no sense. As Crawford pointed out: “In 2009-10, when Alistair Darling was chancellor, Labour ran up a deficit of £159 billion, which by Mr Murphy’s new logic would have demanded instant spending cuts of the same magnitude the following year.”

They may be economically illiterate but they are politically expedient. They are clinging to the wreckage of the Smith Commission as if it’s a lifeline to political salvation.

It doesn’t make any sense. As Paul Kavanagh wrote in the National: “Earlier this week the Tory manifesto included a provision to strip Scottish MPs of the right to vote on income tax bands in the Commons. It’s a betrayal of the Smith Commission, yelled Jim, glad of a distraction technique. Jim knows a lot about betraying the Smith Commission as he and his party spent most of the negotiations gutting any proposals for the meaningful devolution of extra powers and doing their utmost to reduce it to the absolute minimum that they could get away with.

Power over the minimum wage? You can’t have that. Power over abortion? That’s not going to happen. Control of broadcasting? Not even the testcard. For Labour, the Smith Commission was an exercise in extracting party political advantage and not about responding to what Scotland wants, and now they’re complaining the Tories are doing exactly the same thing.”

Labour’s manifesto today was a dire dull affair, a lifeless body riddled with contradictions exposed all week by Ed Balls and Chukka Ummunna. 

Murphy is a dead man walking. To be fair some of this isn’t his fault. He isn’t at Holyrood, and he doesn’t appear at the leaders debates. Instead he has to create an endless stream of ridiculous media moments with an empty prospectus. He’s powerless and exposed. He now appears in some limbo land, detached from Westminster and, increasingly, reality.

The only people staring down any black hole today are the Scottish Labour Party.

Surge Where?

There are however tensions and challenges for the SNP.

As Leanne Wood said last night: “An opposition that promises more of the same is no opposition at all.”

The problem Nicola Sturgeon faces is, what if she’s right? What if Miliband really is as useless as she thinks? What if we end up in the scenario where Labour are propped-up (indirectly) by a legion of 40-50 SNP MPs? What if they don’t want to do anything? What is the SNP’s strategy here?

It’s uncharted territory but the SNP need to avoid being associated with a Labour government foisting more of the same. They don’t want to become the Lib Dems.

As George Monbiot wrote a few days ago:

“Labour has allowed the Conservatives to frame its politics. Frames are the mental structures through which we perceive the world. The dominant Tory frame, constructed and polished across seven years by its skilled cabinet makers, is that the all-important issue is the deficit. The financial crisis, it claims, was caused not by the banks but by irresponsible government spending, for which the only cure is austerity. It’s a con; an excuse for redrafting the social contract on behalf of the elite. But Labour has meekly acquiesced to this agenda, disputing only the extent of its application. By accepting your opponents’ frame, you reinforce their power, allowing them to pull the entire polity into their own arena. No Labour capitulation has been as extreme and catastrophic as the one with which it begins this year’s manifesto. Its promise to cut the deficit every year commits it indefinitely to the Conservative programme, with differences of degree rather than direction. This means cuts. Balancing the books, the manifesto says “will need common sense spending reductions”.

Whilst the alternative bloc of Plaid, Greens and SNP should enjoy the moment they, we, also need to think to the future and have a strategy for asserting political power or they will be crushed under the combined forces of Blukip or the tragic incompetence of Labour.

The reality is that the Greens and Plaid may do well in this election but will still not muster electoral clout in anything like the media power they wielded last night.

Sturgeon’s team – and Miliband’s need to be quickly thinking of common ground to make common cause or they will be swept away. But it is possible. An alternative could be popular. It’s not just Scotland that is hungry for change.



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52 replies

  1. The photograph says it al reallyl.

    The Westminster Parties have gone for “convergance” on the right of centre. They line up to protect the image of the UK as a significant power by spending a fortune on Trident. Never mind the cost to poor – “We look good in our suits strutting on the World stage”.

    Time for change and that change is not UKIP. I stll find it difficult to accept that enough Scots voted UKIP to give them a MEP in Scotland…and look at the MEP who represents us!!!!!!!!!

  2. Any political party which is dependent on the votes of middle England are going to have to spout and indeed implement a policy of austerity,as demanded by the right wing English press.
    This of course excludes the SNP whose constituency is left of centre and not welded to the neoliberal model imposed by the politics of England.
    Because of that,the SNP will never be seen in the same way as the Liberal party were and have no fears of an electoral backlash when opposing Torygraph/Mail dogma.

  3. Here’s how I see it panning out:
    May 2015 – Tories are the largest party, but Labour manages to for a government with support of SNP, Plaid etc. SLab are routed and finished.
    Autumn 2015 – SNP, Plaid etc. lose patience with Labour and withdraw support, forcing new GE. Tories still flush with cash sweep away bankrupt Labour (financially now, as well as intellectually and morally). New Tory administration is even more reactionary, increasing austerity and further alienating Scotland. Labour Party implodes.
    Spring 2016 – SNP retains control of Holyrood with increased majority and promise of Indy Ref in 2019. English Left begin to regroup under a new party.
    Summer 2018 – Scotland reach the 2nd round of the World Cup, there being narrowly defeated on penalties by Brazil, who then go on to win.
    Spring 2019 – New Indy Ref gives 65/35 Yes.
    Spring 2020 – UKGE shows resurgent English Left narrowly defeated by Tories, who have to rely on their LD chums again
    Autumn 2020 – Scotland regains her independence.
    2025 – English Left fully recovered, sweeps to power, end of austerity, House of Lords abolished, FPTP replaced by PR, and everyone lives happily ever after.

    We can but live in hope.

    • Looks very plausible, even the World Cup episode. We could add in the trouble that will follow if the Conservatives get back into power – the pressure for an EU referendum, pro-European Conservatives splitting off, and some reincorporation of Ukip members; increased dissent in Scotland and Wales; something else again in N. Ireland. Break-up of the UK seems inevitable.

    • ”Summer 2018 – Scotland reach the 2nd round of the World Cup, there being narrowly defeated on penalties by Brazil, who then go on to win.”

      Why do you have to relate the future of our country to the endless cretinous uselessness of forking football? What is going on with you? What makes you imagine that football is important? All my life I’ve seen Scots obsessed with this unimportant diversion and after half a century, nothing’s changed. I despair. Bread and forking circuses and you won’t see it will you?

      • Apart from this wee joke I thought this contribution was quite thought provoking…….and it was a joke……lighten up!
        The only reservation I have is that it underestimates the power that will be deployed against further efforts at independence. Perhaps the MSM is losing its power because it is shite and because of the new alternatives……..

        I think the young lady on C4’s with her succinct and accurate synopsis of Scottish Labour’s Manifesto will go into the history books as a herald of change

        ………but what about more direct methods of control?

        A new Holyrood administration after 2016 should assiduously cultivate European allies.
        John Page

        • Excuse my intemperate response which was all frustration and no anger. Still, my point remains about bread and circuses re:football. It’s a curse in all countries.

          Just look at the passion over Rangers shenanigans – all that energy which should be directed to good use. But on second thoughts I read of the Rangers fans in Spain having a celebration about the referendum result and their Union Jack displays in George Square- but you know what I mean.

          Full agreement about European allies…..

      • That line was intended purely as tongue in cheek, but on reflection it may still be pertinent. Like it or loathe it, football is the national sport, and how the team performs has an effect on national confidence.
        Just imagine if Scotland had qualified for the 2014 world cup and done well, what effect that might have had on the result.
        Similarly, after a crushing defeat, the “too-wee-too-poor-too-stupid” monkey jumps on our collective shoulder again; cue Renton ‘it’s shite being scottish….’

    • Alternative scenario. Milliband Labour proves incapable of proposing popular legislation, so turns to Salmond and offers to support him as Prime Minister to keep the Tories out. Salmond leads a successful minority government for 4 years by knowing how to read the electorate and propose only laws which benefit the majority of people. New slogan is adopted Scottish Laws for English People!

  4. Exactly, Mike Small, what indeed will the SNP do if Labour just keeps on being the same Labour it always is when it gets into office, and the SNP see themselves caught in the cleft stick of either bringing down a bad Labour government or propping up a bad Labour government…? What then?

    A Labour – SNP supply and confidence deal is a poisoned chalice…a mistake, at least on the terms it is being proposed….it is Nicola Sturgeon who should be saying, “I don´t think we can work with Labour” not Ed Miliband saying he can´t work with the SNP…and somehow, there seems to be a consensus building that Ed is actually a nice guy after all….well he might be or he might not be, but we all know that Ed Balls is a neo liberal of the first water.

    What are the SNP going to get out of any deal with Labour? All I can hope for is that they write Scotland´s right to self’determination in stone on the walls of Westminster…in any case, Nicola Sturgeon should not be engaging in overtures – no, sorry, operatics – for a deal with Ed….why Nicola? Caw canny, far too keen there for my liking.

    The SNP risk losing that freshness you speak of….look what happened to Nick Clegg and the Liberals who were the media darlings a few years back….and then politicians, once they get some power, so often tend to lose the plot…

    There has never been a greater need for a Republican indie party in Scotland….what happened to Cat Boyd´s plans for a Scottish Podemos?

    Too many eggs in one basket/ basket case Labour govt…and I don´t trust Labour or Ed or Balls as far as I could throw them (a theory I wouldn´t mind putting to the test one of these days)

    • The Lib Dems were part of a coalition with the Tories. Both Labour and the SNP have both said there will not be a coalition. If Nicola Sturgeon starts saying what you want her to, the SNP would be isolating themselves from having a potential influence on the outcome of the election, and next government at Westminster, which would be completely self defeating.

      • I understand the dilemma Mutley…success brings new problems and complications. The point remains that the SNP will be associated in the public mind with whatever it is an eventual Labour government might do…

        And we need an indie republican party to critique the SNP…we need plurality…

  5. There is a very distinctive agenda the SNP / Green / Plaid progressive alliance could develop and quite possibly win support for in the event of a hung parliament: genuine democratic reform.

    MMP-style PR and abolish the Lords to be replaced with a elected senate drawn from all quarters of the country is definitely achieveable. Compelling ALL elected representatives from councillors upwards to publish standardised annual reports of their activities – voting / attendance records, expenses, gifts and freebies, interaction with lobbyists, etc. – would be popular too, circulated to all constituents. Couple this to recall votes in the event of transgressions, plus referendums on the basis of mass petitions to Parliament and you’ve got a package that will win massive support in the country, even if Westminster and the British State resists.

    The most telling reform, however, would be the most difficult to achieve: overhaul party funding. State funding to match audited, spot-checked membership receipts, administered in a fashion similar to Gift Aid, with total individual and corporate donations capped to 25% of annual income from membership fees. Make parties beholden to ordinary members rather than large donors is the key to reclaiming democratic control from the corrupting influence of the City. Watch those parties chase members and reform their own structures to create more participation!

    Even Labour might see advantages in distancing themselves from the long-resented albatross of trade union funding, and liberate the unions into the bargain. A vehicle to build the (some would say) natural social democratic consensus across these isles and leave the Tories bereft of their big bucks backers, locked out for a generation or more.

    Question is, has Labour the nous, vision and, above all, cojones to go for it?

    I think we all know the answer, sadly. But then that’s why the ball is well and truly in the court of the new Rainbow.

    • Again, I fail to see why the SNP would think or in fact care for reforming the House of Lords. Why bother? The quickest route to indie is the goal.

      The Labour Party could have reformed the House of Lords with Blair. They didn’t do so because the Labour Party are 100% part of the system, just as much as the Tories are.Remember Jack Straw boasting to those undercover journalists about how he was expecting to be made a Lord? Those beady eyes, the drool dribbling from his chops?

      Open your eyes, folks. The Labour Party and the Tories are two sides of the same coin which, wherever way it lands, always sees Scotland marginalised if not directly shafted….

      Anybody who has any faith left in Labour needs to look at their record in office…that includes Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP….

      I would rather the SNP went down there to noise them up than try to reform Britain, which, just a few months back, all of us yessers agreed was beyond reform….

      Which is it?

      • The SNP have said that while they support independence, for as long as we are part of the British state, we should play as positive a role as possible. This is a perfectly mature and grown up position to take. As is trying to negotiate more powers for Scotland within the union. That is why the SNP want people to vote for them in May.

        You are effectively arguing that the SNP adopt a wrecking and destructive attitude. This is wrong for a number of reasons. The peoples of the rest of the UK have a right to be treated with respect, the SNP and wider independence movement have no argument with them. The struggle is a constitutional and democratic one, and we should be endeavouring to create and promote co-operation across the UK. A confrontational and divisive approach would be harmful and counterproductive to achieving independence. It needs to be achieved in the right way and manner. How we achieve independence is going to be very important. If it is done in the wrong manner, then bitterness and ill feeling would diminish significantly the achievement.

        • Mutley, please, are you suggesting it is not mature and grown up to disagree with the current SNP strategy?

          I am not arguing for a wrecking and destructive attitude, I am arguing for extreme scepticism and caution about getting into bed with Labour in any shape or form…you might catch something there….

          …nor am I disrespecting the rest of the UK. On the contrary, I can´t see how the SNP can argue for a reform of the House of Lords, nor do I understand why such a notion would have been so well received at the SNP conference. You can´t say, if you want to be coherent I mean, that you want out of the UK and in the next breath argue for a reform of the second chamber which ought to be, in any case, agreed on a cross party basis. It´s a major ‘- and long overdue – reform, but the SNP cannot lead that reform without risking something like moral hazard….who are the SNP to reform the House of Lords if we will be indie in a few years anyway?

          As for achieving indie in the right manner, well I basically agree, but I fail to see how sending 50 or so SNP MP´s to Westminster furthers that at all. It furthers devo max…and there, I fear, we come to the nub of the question…

          Nobody wins independence without sacrificing something, or risking something. The SNP don´t seem to understand that. Or else, pretend not to. Or don´t want to…

          In any case, the 45 would have voted SNP anyway. Nicola doesn´t need to make overtures to Ed, why should she? Let´s see the results, let´s see if a deal of some kind can be done, but why show your hand so early in the game? Ed should be coming to us, not the other way around…

          • It is not clear to me that Mutley was suggesting anything of the sort. You are putting words into his mouth.

          • This is an interesting discussion. While keeping a Labour government in business, the SNP should still have the clout to ask questions at question time and bring their own policy proposals, unwatered down, to a vote. If these are well communicated to the public, it is then up to the Labour government to show to the people of Scotland how constructive they are. If they cooperate, then the SNP still gets the credit, if they do not, then a new Indyref very quickly becomes inevitable.

          • A cautionary note. We should learn from recent history, the Lib Dems have mortally damaged their brand by hitching themselves too closely to the Tories. They became the whipping boys. SNP must avoid becoming too closely associated with Miliband and Labour. Must also avoid a situation arising where they might be held responsible for the downfall of a Labour led administration that leads to Tories taking control. That scenario would be a fatal blow to future electoral success for SNP. Its a challenging path ahead- or should that be minefield.

  6. There is talk of ‘betrayal’ in the above article, and Ed Miliband was famously accused of ‘stabbing his brother in the back’ (from which, if it were true, said brother seems to have recovered quite prosperously, however). But the more serious stabbing in the back was that of Labour (UK Labour first, then/now Scottish Labour, potentally UK Labour yet again) by the SNP. In the 1970s we had the most bolshy conceivable workforce; by the end of the decade, Labour, in power under Jim Callaghan, was facing all-out anarchy (Winter of Discontent, streets full of uncollected rubbish, dead piling up in mortuaries, industrial unrest, etc.). There was a Vote of (No) Confidence. The SNP voted against the Government – which lost by ONE vote – so the SNP decision was critical. Stab No. 1. In came, of course, the Nemesis that was Margaret Thatcher – against which the SNP railed as if it had nothing to do with them (apart from their having opened the door to let her in). Having got in, the Iron Lady railroaded the unions, industry, the coal-mines; blaming everything on the Labour Party. It took 18 years of Thatcher/Major for Labour to summon the energy and willpower to counteract this unnatural force of nature. A force that relied on fragmentation of the opposition (= the population, where worker was set against worker, public servant against public servant, with privatisation the supposed unique solution to all problems: ‘You can’t buck the market.’): after 10 years of steadily-improving Labour government (with the exception of, and possibly partly caused by, the ill-judged Iraq invasion, not forgetting lingering anger over the Poll Tax – which had nothing to do with Labour, of course), the SNP managed to get into Holyrood, not least on the coat-tails of Scottish Devolution, which Labour arranged as early as 1998. Anger about Iraq, and Tony Blair’s (as against Labour’s) predilection for wealth, accelerated Devolution – a supposed steady process – with (Stab No.2) the frenetic rise (to no avail in the Referendum) of the SNP and Scottish Nationalism, to the detriment, north of the border, of the Scottish Labour Party.
    And the concomitant weakening, denied its Scottish membership, of the Labour Party in general.
    The name is on the tin: the SNP is about Scottish Nationalism. The break-up of the UK. Nicola Sturgeon, it has to be given her, is a sturdy battler for the goals of the left. But inevitably, mostly for the left in Scotland as long as she is the SNP leader. The third stab is the almost making it impossible for Ed Miliband to assemble a UK wide unified vote to confront the privatisers.

    • Oh dear, not this one again.

      So the SNP are to blame for voting against “streets full of uncollected rubbish, dead piling up in mortuaries, industrial unrest, etc.“. If you can’t run a country, you shouldn’t be in government, it’s as simple as that.

      After 18 years, Labour didn’t “summon the energy and willpower to counteract this unnatural force of nature” – they immitated it. Blair took up right where Thatcher left off, continuing the trajectory of privatisation of national industries and corporate influence of government.

      The true cause of Labour’s demise is just what you demonstrate – blaming others for their woes instead of taking a long hard look in the mirror.

      • Golliwog label was removed from the jam jar Robinson. IGNORE!!!!!

      • This is Stuart Campbell’s riposte to this tired old Labour complaint, from Wings Over Scotland.

        “The SNP contributed just 11 votes to the 311 which saw the no-confidence motion pass by the narrowest possible margin (one vote). Labour had been in a pact with the Liberals to give them a working majority, but when Labour declined to call an election in autumn 1978 as the Liberals wanted and expected, the pact ended and the Liberals voted with the no-confidence motion. Curiously, though, we’re unaware of Labour still furiously berating the Liberals more than three decades later,.
        for “ushering in” Thatcherism..

        – The Conservatives won the May 1979 election by over two million votes. The notion that James Callaghan’s embattled party would have turned that huge margin around in even five months is farcical. What is it that people imagine would have happened during those few weeks?”

        Callaghan himself held his own rebel MPs who had voted in favour of the 40% rule as responsible for causing the bad feeling which led to the situation of the SNPs. Remember, they had voted against their own government to impose the 40% rule on the devolution vote. They were intent on wrecking the chance of even a modicum of devolution to Scotland. Their short-sightedness led to the inevitable loss of the vote of confidence.

        It only ended the Callaghan government a few months earlier than it should, so Thatcher winning the subsequent election was due to the inability of Labour to convince the electorate. Still it is seen as a serviceable excuse by Labour who are very good at finding false targets. It is trotted out regularly like a sad old ghost horse that went to the knacker’s yard a long time ago, in the hope that those too young to remember can be fooled by phantoms.

    • Here’s a thought for you, is it even possible for a group of 11 MP’s to bring down a government? I love the line that it was the SNP who brought down Callaghan when it was the Tories in league with the Liberals (imagine that) who put forward the motion of no confidence and they had the majority of MP’s – not the SNP.

      Ask yourself why. In March 1979, Scotland voted on devolution. The yes vote won but Scotland was denied devolution because of ‘low voter turnout’. Can you imagine a General Election result being overturned because of ‘low voter turnout’? So that’s the reason behind the no confidence support quite apart from the well understood fact that the Callaghan government in 1979 was a complete basket case.

      Methinks you saved the fourth bit of stabbery for your own argument.

    • Dearie me,”A big nasty SNP boy did it and ran away”Give me a break,the usual old pathetic mantra from the dinosaur formally known as the Labour partry,go away and grew a pair rather than talk Bollocks per usual!

    • “I have since wondered whether those thirty four Labour Members would have voted as they did if they had been able to see that their votes on that evening would precipitate a General Election in 1979, at the least favourable time for their government.”

      “Time and Chance” James Callaghan’s autobiography.

      Include also: Gerry Fitt and Frank McGuire “on that evening.” in 1979.

  7. THE PICTURE REMINDS ME OF THE SONG “SISTERS” FROM THE MOVIE A WHITE CHRISTMAS.

  8. There are however tensions and challenges for the SNP.

    As Leanne Wood said last night: “An opposition that promises more of the same is no opposition at all.”

    The problem Nicola Sturgeon faces is, what if she’s right? What if Miliband really is as useless as she thinks? What if we end up in the scenario where Labour are propped-up (indirectly) by a legion of 40-50 SNP MPs? What if they don’t want to do anything? What is the SNP’s strategy here?

    It’s uncharted territory but the SNP need to avoid being associated with a Labour government foisting more of the same. They don’t want to become the Lib Dems.

    Well, obviously they don’t. The issue for us will be the Queens Speach, whether delivered by David or Ed. That will be when we know what is really going on. Until then it is all smoke and mirrors.

    Frankly the tensions and challenges are with our very good friends in the other two major parties. For, let us not forget, the nuclear option of a further election, is still available though less likely now.

    • Your last point is perhaps the most relevant, the anti austerity alliance is a loose arrangement that suits the three parties during the campaign, but there are differences between Plaid Cymru and the SNP due to Scotland and Wales being at different stages of their political journey that both the Tories and Labour will try and exploit and the Greens with maybe 1 or 2 MP’s who could have their heads turned for the right policy and price, it’s up to Nicola, Leanne and Natalie to hold together for as long as they can to get the best deal for all 3 parties, it will be tough. but i would trust them more than Ed or Dave that’s for sure.

  9. One major fact being ignored is the English perspective-
    arrogance and fear of the fact that representatives of the “lesser” nations (or regions as they often refer to) of the UK should have the audacity to think they should be allowed fair representation of their electorate for once at Westminster. The near hysteria down south sees the frightening uncivilised Scots lumped in with all those other Johnny foreigners who threaten the British (read English) way of life. They just don’t get it- they equate Scottish Nationalism with the right wing neo nazi nationalism they see across Europe and beyond! In their eyes we are not quite good enough and should know our place and stop snivelling.
    If Labour Lib Dems & last of the Tories are wiped out on May 7th then Westminster ignores the Scottish result at their peril. A constitutional crisis would ensue. No Westminster party would have a mandate to govern north of the border, surely the path to full independence would be accelerated? The next round of Tory ideological policies would push us over the edge. There would be no turning back. The Labour party’s demise in Scotland has been astounding- anyone predicting such a scenario in 2005 would have been considered insane. These are truly historic times. I’m hopeful that the polls are accurate, that voters hold their nerve and vote for the new paradigm.

  10. I used to worry about the SNP being tainted in the same way as the Lib Dems are now by joining with a hopeless, selfish (Red) Tory Party, especially if some black swan event occurs… But I am convinced that the SNP will be the very LAST party Ed turns to in Parliament. Yes, he will rather enter a coalition with the Blue Tories, because his spin doctors say he needs to court SE England votes.

    Remember, all Westminister parties are, by their DNA, Tory parties. That is the way the union works and Ed is an establishment figure par excellence. He is also a gormless fool who would miss shooting himself in the foot if he did not have the whole Labour Party joining him in holding the gun.

    No, let the SNP better form a third bloc (Progress Alliance) with the Greens, PC, some Irish in Parliament. And watch it grow, because some English Labour MPs (and large swaths of England) will be aghast when Ed gives Dave the keys to No. 10, rather than entering it himself with help from Nicola. No matter how it is spun by a compliant media.

    I am convinced that the SNP is too clever, anyway, too fall into the same trap the Lib Dems did.

    • On the contrary the SNP have stupidly written themselves out of any coalition by drawing red lines around policies that other parties cannot accept
      Independence
      Defence
      Economy (progress is all through higher taxes and borrowing and no austerity – yeh right). Nd some growth from a private escort in Scotland that seems increasingly to be demonised by SNP supporters.

      Oh and the bizarre line that “we hate Labour but will support a Labour govt.” Can anyone make sense of that one?

      I can only assume that this is in fact a political calculation by the SNP but the risk is that the they, no matter the size of its vote in Scotland, will be marginal in Westminster as a result of its own decisions. Strange but good luck to them

      Labour is more likely to do a deal with SDLP and the Liberals. Changes in the seats between Liberals and Tories are neutral in terms of the current coalition unless the liberals move across to labour. I suspect Labour will be able to govern without the SNP. maybe if the SNP had been more sensible about their politicking they’d not be excluded in this way

    • Although the SNP will have to do all the heavy lifting in terms of WM seats, the support of PC and the Greens, even with only a handful of seats gives credibility to the concept of a Progressive Alliance. I.e. something many in the rUK can support because it wouldn’t just be “those awful Scots” after more handouts.

      So let’s assume it goes as the polls predict. Labour has two choices, either work with the SNP or work with the Tories (or support the Tories in government, the same either way really). If they support the Tories they will be ‘LibDemmed at the next election, there will really be no point in anyone voting for them; if they accept SNP support the price will (hopefully) be very hight indeed.

      Whichever way the Labour leadership chooses to jump there will be a large rebellion, the party will in effect split in two, whichever half remains officially Labour. One faction will become the new LibDems to be slowly swallowed up by the Tories, the other will form the English part of the Progressives. Remember Labour has a significant number of seats in the North of England, the Midlands, South Wales etc. areas not too different from the West of Scotland. So many Labour MPs, whether from true conviction or from their prospects of ever being re-elected, might well be inclined to throw in their lot with a Progressive Alliance.

      Thus UK politics would finally be restructured on more ‘European’ lines, and that would be Scotland’s parting gift — not too bad a way to leave?

      But I don’t rate Miliband’s chances of survival. The ladies may become the kingmakers, but “Heavy the Head the Bears the Crown” …

      https://www.flickr.com/photos/32689834@N00/17179004171/sizes/m/in/photostream/

  11. I agree with Mike Small that there are worries for us if, as we (most of us, the odd fervent BritNat commenter on here aside) fervently wish, the SNP hold the balance of power for a Labour, or perhaps LibLab government. I disagree with Douglas above re confidence and supply.

    I am worried that an SNP working a vote by vote arrangement with Labour will simply dissipate the momentum built up last year and become tarnished by association with a Labour government that, even if it understands austerity is a bankrupt (and bankrupting) strategy rejected by the majority of professional economists (outside the University of Chicago anyway) lacks the cohones (stand forward the non-eponymous Ed Balls) to implement for this and ends up making another Faustian pact, as per Brown and Darling, with the City. (Though their noises about only eliminating the current account deficit are encouraging.)

    That’s why I think confidence and supply tied to significant concessions is more attractive. We would want, at the end of the parliament, a significant number of the Nos to see we are not a bunch of parasites and are as capable of running our own welfare and pensions systems as Danes or Austrians. One concession to fight for in return for confidence and supply is a right to self-determination, though repatriating Scots Law might be needed to secure that, given the English absolute sovereignty of parliament line.

    And another, of course, is Full Fiscal Autonomy. The people plying the Institute of Fiscal Studies line have to consider that FFA implements differently depending on the overall fiscal framework, as Nicola Sturgeon has said. And it does not preclude non-commercial transfers between areas: the £3 billion debt interest transfer the IFS assume from Scotland to UK is one example. The £10 billion (£13 billion or so now, with the reduced oil dividend) ‘union dividend’ promised to Scotland in the other direction is another example which the SNP should hold Miliband too. (It would require calculating a counterfactual Barnett transfer estimating what the ‘dividend’ would have been had the status quo (or Smith commission) been maintained.)

    The joint result of those transfers in both directions would mean Scotland was in very sound fiscal position to roll out tax and welfare powers over the next parliament, increase the self-confidence of the No voters and, it is to be hoped, lay the groundwork for a second referendum. The piecemeal vote by vote alternative risks, I fear, losing momentum. We don’t want another 20 year wait between referendums.

    • All that would be interesting. Pity the First Minister is doing everything possible to make it unlikely that Labour could ever do any such deal. Maybe it is a principled stance but as someone in Ireland said “one day in govt is worth a year in opposition” the SNP seem to hanker after being an opposition party, unless they can find a way to water down their stance on independence, defence and the economy.

  12. We are in the sort of uncharted territory where political skill, ideas and leadership will play the strongest part. Rather than force of numbers alone. Or formal party affiliations.

    Apparently 75% of Labour candidates do not support Trident.

    Will they be prepared to break ranks, or take over the ship?

    Who knows, a political revolution may be about to happen.

  13. This article started by attacking Nigel as perceived bogeyman and then drifted somewhat. Scots are very naïve. Nigel’s point about NHS doctors is surely correct also for Scots. If you need more doctors (or any other profession), you train more doctors. If you refuse to train your own people and you then need to import more doctors, this means your own people are discriminated against. That is state negligence as well as discrimination. Ninety percent of postgrads at Edinburgh University etc come from outside Scotland. What does that mean, aside from the fact that other national governments fully fund (i.e. cover total costs) their students? It means that 90% of Scotland’s future academics and most of Scotland’s future professionals and leaders in quango’s etc will not be Scots. Think about that. Yes, it means that Scotland will be managed by, well, anybody but Scots. That is happening already with an SNP Gov responsible for higher education. SNP are the only vehicle for now, but radical change is still required to fix our society and stop the discrimination and indeed ethnic cleansing in many areas of ‘professional’ Scotland, leaving too many Scots on the scrapheap. Scots need to get real and rid ourselves of the colonial ‘too wee too stupid’ mindset. This also applies to SNP Ministers the noo!

  14. Lesson learned from the referendum, when forecasts are looking good for SNP (and Scotland in general), you can always rely on labour demanding and getting favours from their bbc pals.

    Next three weeks will be a rough time as labour lie, cheat and steal to prevent their Scottish demise.

    SNP should stick to the strategy that has got them thus far, but not to be too timid regards exposing bbc and labour ties and mutual dependencies in Scotland in their unholy symbiotic relationship.

    Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me!

  15. Good article Mike.

    If the election plays out as you outline then frankly I’m quite glad of Ed’s baby and bathwater moment for the cameras. He’s given the SNP, Plaid and the Greens that distance on a plate. We’ve been well aware that there would be no formal coalition for months, in fact even confidence and supply was only briefly mooted, but vote by vote? Always the most likely and desirable IMV.

    Support with a long spoon as it were.

  16. As the London parties are conspiring to lock the Scot’s democratic choice out of government could the SNP be left with the choice of not taking up their seats or declaring UDI?

  17. What is really disappointing is that nobody has actually held Farage to account about his remarks on free treatment of foreign nationals with HIV. We provide this treatment at no cost because failure to treat these individuals would cause a public health risk. This is explicitly set out in Para 2.1 of this advice from the DH

    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/212952/DH-Guidance-HIV-and-NHS-Charging-fORMATED.pdf

  18. I view this debate from Wales and wish the Welsh had the same political bottle as the Scots.
    I’m fairly sure that the SNP has sufficient wisdom to not fall into any trap set by Milliband should he become prime minister.
    There also are lots of things being said before this election; watch for the convenient memories afterwards. Labour(English) is probably talking privately to the SNP right now.
    If there is a strong left wing representation of Plaid Cymru/SNP/Green MPs after the election, sufficient to prop up a Labour government, then that Group will not,I’m sure, shoot themselves in the foot by falling into any Westminster Establishment traps.
    Another thing that needs to be remembered is that Nicola Sturgeon is playing the long game-independence for Scotland.
    She won’t do anything in Westminster that can be used by the Unionists in Scotland to undermine the credibility of the SNP.

    • “political bottle” is 40+ SNP MP’s marching up Calton Hill on May 8th to declare independence and telling Westminster to f-off for good. A hae ma doots on that. They’re mair likely tae tak the unionist shilling for next 5 years and keep their bums warm on thon tartan seats. Even wi’ a blue + red + yellow Tory voting bloc.

  19. A good start, Mike, but you started to drift back to traditional grievances a bit too much. The good thing is that in the glare of publicity Farage has exposed himself, so to speak, for all to see as a very nasty, xenophobic horror who gorges on ordinary folks’ natural prejudices, amplifies them and spews out the resulting trash in a cloud of stale beer fumes, cigarette smoke and bigotry. He does not speak for England, and an injection of right-wing cash will not enable him and his cronies to paper over the vast chasm of deficiencies in their shabby programme: the more they are exposed to daylight the easier it will be for sensible people to see through their tissues of lies and exaggeration.

    Now back to the future. Yes, it was refreshing to see the three woman standing up so well for their principles and Ed prepared to listen to them. I have a feeling that Cameron’s heart is not in the battle and if I were a Tory I would be very worried, but they’re stuck with him for the moment. Ed has got to deflect the bucket-loads of dirt which the Tory right will be desperately chucking at him whilst rustling up options to deal with the various post-election possibilities. So what is likely to happen? I think many ordinary folk will have been utterly revolted at Farage and his UKIP cronies and will not vote for them. Clegg and his Liberals will also be be severely damaged. The SNP will wipe away Labour in Scotland but Labour will probably be the major party but dependent on others to get their Queen’s speech through. Tough but just about do-able.

    There is, however, a vast black-hole of danger facing all non-Tories. Its divide and conquer.
    The Tories will pour whatever resources are necessary into dividing up the opposition parties and that process must be resisted if the grip Westminster is to be challenged. That’s not going to be easy and will depend on good-will. Perhaps in a way, the blinding flash of UKIP awfulness has been something of a revelation to us all, kilted or not. I do hope so.

    • Is this meant to be some kind of synthesis?

    • There’s much to agree with in your response. Yes the Tories with their allies in the press, and there are many, will seek to divide and rule.

      ” the blinding flash of UKIP awfulness has been something of a revelation to us all, kilted or not.” Not quite a revelation, for especially since Farage was run out of Edinburgh his hostility to Scotland is clearer; this is good in order to discourage UKIPer bigots here. Watch UKIP drone on about the Barnett formula ;sublimated anti Scots bigotry.

      As for kilts, there are those like me who think of kilts along with shortbread, Nessie and Harry Lauder. And not all of Scotland’s people are Gaels.

      If Germans were all to be characterised as lederhosen clad bum-slappers and Englishmen thought of as Morris dancers you might get my drift.

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