The Last Unionists Have Left the Building

Ed Miliband One NationBy Peter Arnott

When Ed Miliband said last night he would rather see David Cameron back in power than make any kind of post election deal with the SNP, the nice positive piece I wanted to write about my hopes for the future governance of these islands disintegrated in disbelief. Who on Earth has Ed been talking to? What nonsense are they feeding him? Why did he agree to say something quite so mind bogglingly, multifacetedly stupid?

Not only has he just told the voters of Scotland that he prefers Tory government for the whole island to a civilised conversation with the people more than half of them (according to the polls) are going to vote for, he has just insulted the intelligence of voters everywhere in the UK with a quite unnecessary concession to the baying nutjobs of the Tory Press.

Here’s one possible scenario. The Tories are the biggest party next Friday. They try to form a government in cooperation with the Liberals and the DUP. They get as far as a Queen’s speech. If the SNP and Labour combined vote against that Queen’s speech, they can bring the Tories down before they get going.

The logic of what Ed just said, which every single Tory MP and mouthpiece in the media will hold him to, is that he abstain. Because to form his own minority government, he will need the support of the SNP whether he pretends they don’t exist and he can’t see or hear them or not.

He has just crippled his own minority government in an act of craven stupidity, a last ditch attempt to put the Scottish horse back in the stable from which it has clearly bolted, and a pointless bit of pandering to the Tory consensus which will despise him all the more for it. Once again, with the SNP, Labour have decided the best thing to do is shut their eyes and wish they’d go away.

Now I kind of understand where they’re coming from. It must hurt like hell to find yourselves to be the chumps of history.

But if they do go on to form an administration now, with support from the SNP which they can deny all they want to, it will be perfectly clear for everyone to see (and point out to them daily) they will look like power hungry hypocrites. They will tacitly, but obviously, be in hock to the Scottish Satan who will no longer be in the mood for positive engagement and exposed to the daily mockery of the entire British Establishment. They’ll look stupid as well as unprincipled. It will be hideous.

Labour made the historic mistake of accepting that government overspending was responsible for the financial crisis in 2008-9. This was bollocks then and it’s bollocks now. But they decided they couldn’t fight the lie so they’d accept it. They cringingly conceded to Tory logic. They’ve just done it again with regard to Scotland and even if they do form a minority government, it will be crippled and compromised from the start.

And they can blame the Scots for voting for the wrong party all they want. Their willingness to join the Tory world view on this and every other matter, it seems, is why Scotland, which is fortunate enough to have an alternative electoral repository for hope, is about to reject them.

I had such hopes that once the Scottish Labour MPs were out of the way that we in Scotland on the one hand, and progressive forces elsewhere would accept the new reality together. That a new constitution for the islands could be worked out between us in good faith. My fear is that what Ed said in the heat of a TV programme last night has condemned us instead to a messy, bitter, recriminatory few years with Labour and the SNP continuing to scream each other puce in blaming each other for everything until Boris walks into Number 10 and we walk out of the Union in a welter of avoidable acrimony.

I had such hopes. That we could recover some of the focus on our mutual welfare that were embodied in the Labour Government of 1945. That we’d find it in ourselves to amicably re-negotiate sovereignty for the benefit of everyone who lives here. Whether we called it federalism or independence. That a bloc of SNP MPs could actually become a fixture of a UK parliament that would then redefine itself through negotiation, with a full transfer of sovereignty to…

I give up. Courage fails me. I find myself unable to hope for anything so sensible. Even with the prospect of a transformative victory next week for the SNP, I find myself in mourning for the better “Britain” that might have been.

Because we might have done this so much better. Till Ed Miliband listened to the bitter trolls of Scottish Labour. And said something stupid last night. Careless but defining. Final. Without even thinking. And this demonstrating that not only have the Tories just abandoned the Union for their own narrow stupid, greed headed advantage, not only are the Tories short sighted and stupid in regard to their precious Union, so, when it comes down to it, are the Peoples’ Party of the Britain that Was, the Britain that they used to represent as a positive inclusive sense of mutual value, and that they now, like the Tories, represent only as a tawdry, vacuous pretence, a shambolic, empty pageant of royalty and Britain’s Got Talent.

They have been trying to make the case that they remain the historical heirs of the last British National Moment that made sense. That they held dear the creations of the Labour Government of 1945-51 to which the people of Scotland still, maybe naively, cling.

Are they Hell. They’re a bunch of squeaky useless PR people who wouldn’t know a value if it punched them in the head. And if they’re better than that, they’ve just blown their chance to act like it.

At least that’s how I feel this morning. I am filled with the same cold, contemptuous anger as I was during the referendum and that they’ve been meeting on the doorsteps, bewildered that no one seems to love them any more.

You did this all to yourselves, you dumb, doomed, craven little men.

Last year, when I looked at the scummy, doomed campaign style of Better Together, I remember thinking: “Jesus, the United Kingdom, no matter what I think of it, surely deserved better than this second rate, nihilistic shit. Can’t they see the price they’re going to pay if they keep this up?” I feel that way again. There’s sadness mixed in with the determination that we may as well get it over with and get shot of the lot of them.

Postscript: All day I’ve been wondering what possessed a careful intelligent man like Ed Miliband to say something so transparently stupid and careless.  Then the answer came to me.  Nick Clegg.  Nick and Ed are doing a deal and what Ed said last night is part 0f the price. I’d bet my house and kids on it.



Categories: Commentary

68 replies

  1. It’s like Groundhog Day. Indyref is over, we lose because a bunch of unionists choose to buy the snake oil peddled by these second hand car salesmen. If there is a Hell, we’re living it. Only one way to choose if this stupidity keeps up – Independence. When they bitch about the currency – tell them we’re adopting the Bawbee, and smile. No matter how challenging the future will be, it’s a cakewalk compared to being a pawn in these tired, NeoLiberal games. I feel sorry for the English we’ll leave behind, but, hey, they put their hands up for the assignment. Maybe they just have to sort this one out on their own.

  2. Ed just abandoned Scotland, and Labour in Scotland with it, last night.
    It may have been stupid but I doubt if it was an accident. It was a calculation that saying certain things trying to save Labour in Scotland would lose them England and that it was a better idea in weight of votes and seats to save Labour In England.
    The SNP is not beating Labour in Scotland. It is replacing Labour in Scotland and has been doing so for the last twenty years. Last night was the end of it. Thursday will bring the post mortem
    In a few years it will be SNP v Tories in Scotland (with perhaps a new radical left wing party in its infancy growing) as there is no way back now for the raddled remains of Labour In Scotland.
    The last significant opponent to independence will have been driven off the battlefield.

  3. >>>All day I’ve been wondering what possessed a careful intelligent man like Ed Miliband to say something so transparently stupid and careless. Then the answer came to me. Nick Clegg. Nick and Ed are doing a deal and what Ed said last night is part of the price. I’d bet my house and kids on it.

    Maybe. Or maybe that’s what he’s being told the focus groups of the middle England Lab/Tory marginals want to hear? There’s about 50 seats where Lab & Tory are still head to head in two-way fights and he’s got to win a lot of them or he’s got nothing to bring to the table for the talks with the SNP, which my guess is will still go ahead after the election. What is needed is to take as many seats as possible off the Tories, and the SNP can only do this in one seat, which I hope they get. Sure it ain’t pretty but only Labour can hurt the Tories in England. Blame the first past the post system…

  4. Excellent piece, as ever, Peter. You echo the bewilderment and indeed rage that many of us felt, hearing that statement. I also agree about the Ed ‘n’ Nick scenario. On the BBC news website there’s a “Build your own Majority” game, which I tried, and yes, I came to the same answer as you. Except that they have to do a little bit better than the polls say for it to work, and what about Nick Clegg’s chances?

    As for Scotland, perhaps they might consider this short poem by Bertolt Brecht:

    THE SOLUTION
    After the uprising of the 17th June
    The Secretary of the Writers Union
    Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
    Stating that the people
    Had forfeited the confidence of the government
    And could win it back only
    By redoubled efforts.
    Would it not be easier
    In that case for the government
    To dissolve the people
    And elect another?

    Written after the East German rising of 17th June 1953

  5. Makes sense. Especially when you consider Danny Alexander turning and nipping at his former ally like a hyena turning on its own after gorging on the carcass
    Alice in Wonderland meets the Wizard of Oz meets Carry on Up the Swanee.

  6. From the guy who threatened us with border guards when visiting our family and friens in England, I guess this is no big surprise.

  7. Miliband in Glasgow today repeated what he said on TV last night – “I am also clear there will be no deal, no pact, no coalition, no tie-in with the SNP.

    I don’t say that for tactical reasons – I’m advocating this for principled reasons.

    We cannot do a deal with a party that wants to break up the UK when we want to build it up.”

    Yet we’ve had Andy Burnham, Caroline Flint and Hilary Benn saying that of course Labour will do a deal with the SNP. Either someone is being economic with the truth, or Ed is sailing off on his own while others have plans to take over. Perhaps the SNP will be dealing with an interim Labour leader.

    Principled reasons sound good, but if Ed is stuck with a minority government then he needs to temper his principles with a dose of pragmatism to get any of his bills through parliament.

    Ed has allowed himself to be pushed into a corner by Cameron and the right wing press, he now sounds as if he’s been programmed in that corner by Murphy and McTernan.

    Sorry, don’t buy the LibDem/Lab deal. Clegg has made it plain he only wants to deal with the largest party and fancies being deputy leader again under Cameron. Even their PPB infers that.

    And meanwhile Nicola, whom Miliband might have thought would cave in, is ramping up the pressure.

  8. Just read your piece and could not agree more . Excellent tho gloomy prediction. Divorce is often so messy

  9. We’re Better Together unless….you do something we don’t like;

    1. like defeating a voting system designed to stop a majority in a Scottish parliament.
    2. expressing yourself by democratically electing members of a political party we don’t like.
    3. presuming that after three centuries of living with the decisions of the majority of the United Kingdom affecting your lives that we’ll tolerate you, a minority, democratically influencing ours.

    Can’t wait for the 8th May to watch Ed Milliband and company eat humble pie.

    Love and kisses,

    John

  10. I think Ed Miliband made a conscious decision to cut his losses in Scotland and to focus on England. The Labour Party has had to run two different election campaigns, one for England and one for Scotland, and it’s produced all manner of problems for them. Focusing on England makes the whole situation much simpler and stops a pointless waste of resources on trying to win Scotland when it can’t be done.

    The Tories gave up on Scotland years ago and became an English party, now Labour are doing the same. They’ve been a dead hand in Scotland for decades and have kept up a perfunctory pretence of being ‘the Labour Party in Scotland’ or ‘Scottish Labour’ when their focus has in reality been on England. Ed Miliband is just abandoning the pretence and simplifying their message in a continued attempt to win Tory middle England. It makes sense in a bizarre sort of way, although you might have hoped that Labour would have gone for a coalition of the left instead of aspiring to be the Tory Party Mark 2.

    The shameless cynicism of their war cry ‘vote Labour in Scotland to keep the Tories out’ when repeatedly, and as recently as 2010, it patently didn’t work, is now fully exposed: they don’t want to work with the left, they’ve made the full transition to being a right wing party. Vote Labour and we’ll hand the election to the Tories on a plate. And by the way, we’re doing it to protect the Union!

    • I don’t think that Labour gave a damn for Scotland, right from the start. They are only interested in Scottish votes, not in the Scottish people. These votes have been easy votes for them for decades and now may be slipping away from them for good.

  11. re comments- why would there be a tory revival on the back of labour’s demise?
    fascinating that this should be viewed so sanguinely.

    what about the rise in Greens membership? as well as to a lesser degree SSP.
    A possible incipient coalition party of left was mentioned, though its certainly doesn’t seem to moving forward at the speed it would need to to make a difference next year.
    Perhaps the political spectrum could become SNP-Greens-Socialist/Left coalition?

    there does not have to a war mongering economically vicious right wing presence in Scottish politics.
    is it necessary that the 1% have a major electoral force to represent them?

    If the tories become the SNP’s main opposition in a 2 party state then scotland will not become a truly progressive or egalitarian country & the poor should not bother to vote for independence, or possibly at all. don’t lead them on.

    • The Green Party advocates zero or negative growth i.e. permanent austerity and a massive redistribution of income and wealth taken from people on average earnings and upwards. Beyond the economic insanity, their ‘save the world’ schtick seems to be successfully acting as a centre of gravity to more and more on the ‘left’ (especially in Scotland, especially amongst young people), away from your other hard left nutters (SSP, SW, TUSC etc. etc.) who will wither. But they are never going to gain mainstream traction with their current economic policies

      – is it necessary that the 1% have a major electoral force to represent them?

      If you are talking about the Conservatives, they poll between 15 and 20% of the popular vote in Scotland, which is reflected in your PR system, not 1%, so I’m not sure what you are talking about there.

      – If the tories become the SNP’s main opposition in a 2 party state then scotland will not become a truly progressive or egalitarian country & the poor should not bother to vote for independence.

      It’s a bugger this democracy thing, isn’t it? It must be so frustrating for you when people – whether it’s ‘the poor’ or anyone else – don’t vote the way you want them to.

      If only everyone would just see sense and do what you want them to do – that would be much better.

    • I hear lots of praise for Ruth Davidson from all quarters and she never seems to be off the telly. Teflon woman who is praised for being honest oh yes she is honest alright – in the debates happy to say more ‘efficiencies or savings’ are coming without blinking an eye . She has no problem with the bedroom tax etc and in my opinion has had a very easy ride in this election. Smiley photo ops on a daily basis somehow above the storm because she isn’t even up for election but always on the box.

      I have been listening very carefully other words she frequently says ‘ we are proposing massive reform’ when she’s on about the new universal credit .

      I want the tories and everything they stand for wiped out here in Scotland . But I fear they will be on the rise again. Sadly many Labour voters are indeed red tories not just because they voted NO but because they have adopted tory ideas and values especially around the welfare state /benefits system/free prescriptions .

      Am I wrong to be so worried about this ?

      • Elaine ,you are right to be worried .There are so many in our society that spout the vaiues you describe and they all belong to the” im all right brigade” who are selfish to the core.

  12. I have been waiting for Milliband to tell us what he stood for and where he thinks the Labour Party would be under his Leadership.

    Five years later I ave come to the conclusion that he does not actually want to be Prime Minister and never did. He was pushed by the Unions into the contest and he has no clue about what he stands for and is basically a coward.
    He can now retire and blame it on the SNP. I also disagree on people who think he is intelligent.
    I think he is a dumb m ******* **** and a little shite.

  13. …there could be a twist in the tale here. Labour could get the SNP’s support on condition that Ed Milliband is not Prime Minister…!

    It’s just an option don’t you think?

  14. It looks increasingly likely that the Tories will have an English majority but will lack a UK majority and the coalition partners to form a government. So step forward a minority Labour government which relies on SNP and Plaid Cymru MPs for support. I don’t have any problem with that Labour government legislating on UK issues by using Scottish and Welsh MPs but they will have no mandate to legislate for England.

    And would Ed Miliband really want the poisoned chalice of trying to legislate for England using the votes of Scottish and Welsh nationalists? It would provoke a constitutional crisis. Yes, I can see the attraction of voting down a Tory Queen’s Speech but it might be wise for Labour to let the Tories give it a go as a minority government. To let the Tories into government might destroy Labour even further in Scotland but if the alternative is being destroyed in England because you’re governing at the whim of SNP/PC, then I don’t think he has much choice. Better for Miliband to let a minority Tory government fail and try to win the next election.

    • I think that Toque is making an important point here, about the likelihood of a constitutional crisis triggered by a Labour government only able to pass legislation on English matters on the basis of SNP support. This seems to me to be a valid prediction/interpretation. It would appear to rule out the possibility of a Labour-SNP co-operation in any scenario where the SNP block was crucial to the existence of a Labour government. In a scenario where Labour could cobble together majorities for English legislation on the basis of support from other parties, co-operation could be sustainable.

    • No mandate? If all 3 parties seeking one hadn’t campaigned *as parties* to retain Scotland’s MPs as full members of a UK Parliament with legislative competence in all nations of that union, then perhaps. If the fundamentals of policy outside England were not decided by England’s MPs more than 99% of the time. As it is, not so much. The democratic deficit they so loudly rubbished is built in (and everyone who votes liblabcon *has* mandated it) regardless of where it applies. Yes, it has the potential to destroy their popular support, as indeed it has in Scotland. But that is a different question.

      • It’s not as simple a damning all English people for voting Lib/Lab/Con though. English people don’t support the Status Quo, even if we do infuriatingly vote for the same parties who perpetuate it. Approval ratings for English Votes on English Laws have run at around 70% for fifteen years but nothing has been done. The English are generally supportive of Scotland having its own parliament but do not think that Scottish MPs should continue voting on English areas where the concomitant legislation is now the responsibility of the Scottish Parliament where their ‘English MPs’ have no vote.

        So Labour have to tell the English people that ‘we denied you English Votes for English Laws’ or ‘told you that you didn’t need an English parliament’, but now we’re going to vote through our legislative agenda (that you didn’t vote for) using Scottish and Welsh nationalists.

        I just can’t see how that would work. If I was Miliband I wouldn’t attempt it.

        • The English don’t understand devolution. Neither for that matter do most Scots. With devolution you have responsibility but not power. Scotland and England remain joined at the hip fiscally. England controls the Treasury. Power resides at Whitehall and Westminster. When England sneezes, there’s a tsunami in Scotland because of the disparity in size – we being 8.3% of the population and 10% of the revenues and GDP. That’s why we must have independence in Scotland. There is a compelling logic to independence which the English and Scots No voters need to accept. As long as they will not accept that logic then England has got to get over this EVEL stuff or it will compel Scottish independence and a lor of acrimony besides.

          The fact is that there are very few English only matters. Any matter which has a fiscal implication, for instance London’s Crossrail project, automatically affects Scotland. That’s why Scottish MPs need to be able to vote on most laws affecting ‘England only’ as they will also have a fiscal impact on Scotland so long as we are both fiscally integrated. When things are devolved to Scotland we don’t actually have legislative and fiscal power over them. Only managerial power. We simply get the right to administer funds but we can’t change fiscal rules. We can just shift small amounts of money around from one pot to another. We can tinker and twiddle, but that’s all. We pay our taxes but we don’t get to raise, set, or collect those taxes. That’s all done centrally with us not having any say or control over it. A proportion of our own taxes are remitted back to us to administer in devolved areas. The English may resentfully think, ‘Well, they’ve got power over that, so why should they vote on our stuff’ but actually we don’t have power. We only have managerial power, not sovereignty. There’s a difference. Sovereignty resides at Westminster. That’s why we can’t have EVEL at Westminster. There could be an English only parliament – or English regional parliaments, with the same devolved power as in Scotland, Wales, or NI; that would balance things up. But as long as sovereignty resides at Westminster all MPs must be equal. If they are not, then the break up of Britain will be sooner rather than later, because effectivelt Scots, Welsh, and NI MPs will become second class cotizens and their populations too.

  15. The main thing is that it speeds up the inevitable break-up of the United Kingdom / Independence for Scotland from those nasty English people so that the Scots can have their freedom, build a future on all their oil (which won’t be stolen from those nasty English people), cash in on their renewable energy, tourism and whisky exports so they can be left to build their socialist paradise in peace and quiet. Miliband is well aware that the SNP has little desire for things to run smoothly in any coalition – quite the opposite in fact – they want to make things as difficult for any Westminster party and stir up as much anti-Scottish sentiment south of the border as there currently is anti-English hostility north of the border. To be honest Miliband should have said – “I really hope the SNP clears the map of Labour seats in Scotland at the election and when they do I will back another referendum in the autumn”. Like I say the break-up is inevitable and the sooner we go our own way the better.

    • Miliband is well aware that the SNP has little desire for things to run smoothly in any coalition – quite the opposite in fact – they want to make things as difficult for any Westminster party and stir up as much anti-Scottish sentiment south of the border as there currently is anti-English hostility north of the border.

      Where is this anti-English hostility in Scotland that you speak of?

      • Exactly the question I was going to ask – this “anti-English hostility” doesn’t exist.

        I have lost count of the number of times I’ve been accused on Twitter of being anti-English, which is patently ridiculous, given that I have lived in London for the best part of 30 years.

      • I wasn’t really talking in terms of numerous occasions on Saturday nights out in Glasgow with the witty refrain of “If you hate the f**king English clap your hands” (I’ve never heard the reverse south of the border but hey ho) No I was thinking more in terms with what passes for debate on youtube, comments on this website, interviews with voters in the run-up to the referendum, people too afraid to put up “better together” posters, messages left on George Galloway’s twitter page (“English” stooge etc). Can I also clarify with you as to WHY would the SNP want to work well in a coalition with a Westminster party? Surely it would be in their interest for things NOT to run smoothly with a government presiding over a country they want to get out of !

        • Guy. George Galloway, whatever we think of him, is definitely Scottish, so I don’t think that counts. Were the ‘people too afraid to put up Better Together posters’ English? I’ve heard of Scottish people who claim the same fear. (Yes, and intimidation directed at Yes campaigners by fellow Scots). We can deplore what goes on anonymously in web chat, but it’s hard to find any anti-English rhetoric in Scottish mainstream media anywhere near comparable with the appalling anti-Scottish racist stuff we are now seeing south of the border. Tell me, Guy, what is the Scots generic term of abuse for English people? You’ll find that difficult: we don’t actually have one, and I think that says a lot for the supposed hatred we have for English people. You don’t say whether you’re English yourself, but, if you are, the current Scottish debate really isn’t about you personally or as a nation. You’d be welcome to participate if you lived here though. Or if you got yourself better informed. The debate is about the kind of society we want to live in. And that maybe explains why the SNP will support progressive opinion at Westminster.

    • There isn’t much anti English hostility here, Guy. Come and visit and see what it’s all about.

      • Guy’s views are widely held south of the border (particularly the far south).

        What he really means is that if Scotland takes a different position to England, and dares to see a better future on its own, then Scotland must be anti-English. This is how we end up with anti Scottish rhetoric and sentiment in England, without anti-English rhetoric and sentiment in Scotland.

        Unfortunately the likely outcome is a growth of anti English sentiment in Scotland which wasn’t there before.

        • did you actually read any of the content of my original posting or did you quickly pick up on the fact that I’m not Scottish and then tell me how backward I’m being to the joys of independence? I am all for Scottish independence – the sooner the better – this is a dying 300+ year old arranged marriage should have been killed off 8 months ago.
          There is growing anti-Scottish rhetoric south of the border ONLY as far as the almost blanket media coverage is concerned – a visitor to the UK would think that democracy only exists north of the border!

    • “anti English hostility north of the border”Complete and utter crap,the only hostility is from the bitter together crowd of your unionist establishment terrified of losing their financially cushioned sinecures!Btw,”exotic Bristol”Mmmmmmm.

      • I don’t speak for the “unionist establishment” so I can only but speculate as to why they care about continuing with a union where one side quite clearly wants out whilst the other side is growing weary of the whole issue altogether. I believe in the primacy of the nation state which is why I am hoping for both the speedy break-up of the UK and the EU and base all interaction between sovereign countries upon on trade rather than undemocratic political unions. It’s a slow process as you are experiencing in Scotland and the Catalans experience in Spain.

        “Exotic Bristol”? – I was being ironic. Like most level-headed people I’m trying to get out of this dying continent of has-been countries.

      • well I have been told that anti-English comments on un-moderated websites: youtube etc don’t mean anything (clearly to the people who type them they do!) Oh and I’m sure that the “if you hate the f**king English clap your hands brigade” was all my imagination as well eh?

  16. I do not even want to contemplate what might happen after the vote , I think Scotland must understand now what the Westminster cabal really think of Scotland . How dare the people of Scotland opt for a better way of doing things . To Westminster we are a shower of rabble with no real intelligence we have straw sticking out from our ears. But they have made a big mistake , WE IN SCOTLAND CARE REALLY BIG TIME
    ABOUT OUR COUNTRY AND ITS PEOPLE . But we have real commitment and passion for a better way .

  17. We are headed for a Grand Coalition of Tory and Labour. I have no doubts about it. 1924 and 1929-1931 again.

    • I think that would mean that the SNP, as the third largest UK political party, would then become the official opposition.

  18. If Labour chicken out of forming the government when they could command a majority with SNP support there will be a lot of angry and disillusioned Labour voters in England and Wales, some of whom will never vote Labour again. There will also be a fair number of Labour MPs who will be upset at being deprived of the chance of ministerial salaries and perks. If I remember correctly, a poll showed that, given the choice between a Tory government and a deal between Labour and the SNP, the overwhelming majority would prefer the deal.

    I suspect what Miliband says now and what he will do after the election may not be the same, but if he does pass up the chance to be PM I expect he will be replaced as the leader of the Labour party as quickly as possible, and that his successor will lose no time in tabling a motion of no confidence in the government which, if it passes, will result in Cameron’s resignation and the Labour being invited to form a government.

    • That’s my hope too. What he says now and what he does in the event of Labour being in a position to form a Labour minority government with SNP support, need not be the same. He went further than he has previously, in the heat of the moment, in ruling any sort of arrangement out, but that was maybe a stumble? For one thing, is he an autocrat? Doesn’t he have to consult his party? What would their view be?

  19. Well, Peter, I too thought – despite all the evidence – that Teddy Bear was basically a decent man surrounded by a tribe of bastards. But now after Thursday I think he is a liar because either he is going to do a deal with the SNP after the election or he has done a deal with the Tories before it. I think Ed’s TV “blunder” (?) will be seen in Scotland the same historic light as Cameron’s English Votes For English Laws declaration on September 15th last year. Whatever happens on Thursday the British get into government. As that great human document Flannagan’s Ball suggests – they step in and we step out again.

  20. – Labour made the historic mistake of accepting that government overspending was responsible for the financial crisis in 2008-9.

    I’ve no sympathy for anyone anywhere who believes this. But it is important to understand that the Labour Government’s practice of increasing state spending until there was no more tax left to squeeze, then carrying on increasing state spending funded by borrowing, and going from a small surplus in 2001 to a 9% deficit in 2008 made some ‘austerity’ inevitable and unavoidable. (The debate rages about how much was / is necessary, whether it ‘works’ or not, ‘what works’ and ‘working’ means being a very subjective term, etc.)

    – Scotland, which is fortunate enough to have an alternative electoral repository for hope, is about to reject them.

    Fine. If “Scotland” (and lets say soon the SNP get +50% of the vote and a majority of seats) rejects Labour, the Tories, ‘the Union’ etc (even though you’ve just been given preferential treatment and a raft of new powers that you refuse to even try out) – could you leave, please?

    – I had such hopes that once the Scottish Labour MPs were out of the way that we in Scotland on the one hand, and progressive forces elsewhere would accept the new reality together. That a new constitution for the islands could be worked out between us in good faith.

    After the threats and abuse you and your elected nationalist representatives have hurled at your nearest neighbours and most important market? (I’m in no way making excuses for the behaviour of the media and politicians south of the border, btw) There is fault on all sides – and I’m clear that the SNP are not interested in working out anything in good faith. As per the SNP constitution, the only aim is Independence, and anything and everything can and will be done to achieve that aim.

    – My fear is that what Ed said in the heat of a TV programme last night has condemned us instead to a messy, bitter, recriminatory few years with Labour and the SNP continuing to scream each other puce in blaming each other.

    Let’s hope so. Give us a break from listening to you blaming anyone but Scotland and the people living there for all your problems. And it’ll be fun to watch.

    – I had such hopes … to amicably renegotiate …

    In light of the SNP and some of the “grass roots” approach to all this and the way that your need for Independence has been framed (“every problem we have is all someone else in England / the SE of England / London / ‘Westminster’) I think you were very naive.

    – They’re a bunch of squeaky useless PR people who wouldn’t know a value if it punched them in the head.

    They might know 5. or 10. Or 100. Or are you talking about something else?

    – There’s sadness mixed in with the determination that we may as well get it over with and get shot of the lot of them.

    Can’t come soon enough.

    – Postscript: All day I’ve been wondering what possessed a careful intelligent man like Ed Miliband to say something so transparently stupid and careless. Then the answer came to me. Nick Clegg. Nick and Ed are doing a deal and what Ed said last night is part 0f the price. I’d bet my house and kids on it.

    I could just about live with that provided the Lib Dems prevent Ed from implementing his moronic ideas (price fixes, rent controls, interfering in markets, etc.) and decentralisation is allowed to continue (Labour are part of the problem, whatever they say they remain committed centralisers).

    I think this is profoundbly unlikely though, so I would like to see you actually bet your house (I don’t think even Ladbrokes would accept your kids as tender) on this.

    Can you stick the bet on and come back on here with a picture of the betting slip?

  21. Mr Miliband knows that independence is inevitable and is abandoning Scotland to concentrate on Middle England.

  22. I can understand where Miliband is coming from. Forming a coalition with a regional party that excludes 60 million people wouldn’t be popular among the electorate, and forming a coalition with a regional party who’s main aim is to put Labour out of office isn’t going to be popular in Labour.

    I thought the SNP had ruled-out working with Labour? Shouldn’t there be an article about that as well, for balance?

    And at the end of the day, if Labour get more seats than the Tories, they can probably rely on SNP votes, anyway. They are both basically similar neo-liberal parties.

  23. yes this piece fills me with cold shivers with its power. Writing from Wales, where we have a new piece of legislation, the future generations act that could change everything. The piece makes me realise we you in Scotland, we in Wales, are on our own now, its go for it or die with the UK. I’m on it, emotional moment.

  24. The good thing is that they have shown the union up for what it is a sham, an illusion and the more they do it the more peoples eyes are being opened to what lies behind the curtain.

    We do not live in a union, a family of nations, we live in a British Establishment plutocracy where the biggest nation acts as the overlord of the smaller nations. Even if we send 59 SNP MP’s to London they will still be hugely outnumbered by unionist MP’s and if, as expected, they are to be cold shouldered in the political process then how can the democratically elected voice of Scotland be tenable in the UK parliament.

    They attack us for being Anti-English, for being ‘separatists’ when we are part of the most socially conscious movement there has been on these islands for a very long time. It’s not about the SNP Ed you complete buffoon, it’s about Scotland it’s about us the Scots and our place in the union. Freeze us out at your peril.

  25. Excellent, well written article which hits a large amount of nails on their respective heads.

  26. If Milliband refused to take the key’s to No10 because he cant be seen to work with the SNP, he would be replaced as leader of Labour before he had finished the sentence.

  27. “Nick and Ed are doing a deal ”

    Like others above say, the deal to freeze out SNP is more probably between red and blue tories, easily done and all in the name of steadying the good ship Britannia……..though it is still sinking of course, but this will delay the inevitable a while longer and ameliorate the English masses. Meantime Scotland’s economy ‘burns’. The British state now has only one policy for Scotland – its called Scorched Earth. Has naebody noticed?

  28. all true but completely neglects the role the SNP have played in making a relationship between them and Labour as difficult and potentially toxic for Labour as is possible. The mutual distrust and hatred is clear and long running and explains why when a minoirty government the SNP looked to the Tories and greens for support not Labour.

    • Monty, the mere existence of the SNP means that Labour in Scotland despise it. They know that the SNP are the main challenger to them in Scotland, and they have been increasingly resentful and bitter since the 1960s, when the SNP first came on the political scene in a credible way. One side has been consistently calling the other side Nazis/fascists and we all know which one it is.

      • The SNP have been riding two horses one progressive politics the other nationalism. I think many on the Labour side still suspect that the progressive part is a FOC and the new anti austerity policy has been adopted because they have seen how well it has worked for Sinn Fein in Ireland and in Southern Europe rather than being a policy thought out and sincerely held

  29. I’ve got to the stage that I’d rather see the Tories get in again and really pess off the Scots to the point of boosting our ranks and acquiring our Independence sooner than later or for Labour to form a coalition with the Libdem losers and do likewise by continuing with Tory like austerity measures.

    If the SNP form some sort of formal alliance with Labour and they, Labour, botch everything up over the next five years, as expected, our popularity will go right down the stank.

    Let them all get on with it …….. absolutely destroying the so-called Better Together Union.

    Sally Magnusson put it to Nicola Sturgeon that the SNP with little opposition in Scotland is ‘unhealthy’. It would seem that some people are totally blinkered to the ‘unhealthy’ form of government we are living under now and have been living under since Labour swung to the right. More recently sham vows, broken promises, elements of EVEL unfairness and implied exclusion of democratically elected MPs highlights that we are living in a chronically ill dictatorship. Let’s hope the condition is terminal.

    • I cannot remember the MSM ever worrying about a lack of opposition when Labour were dominating Scottish politics. Funny how they have changed their tune when it comes to the SNP.

  30. Surely I’m not the only person in the UK who can see what’s really happening here? Ed Miliband is a double agent. He’s been sent in by the Tories to wreck the Labour party from within. It’s as clear as day when you think about it (long enough while drinking heavily). Try it. It’s great.

  31. ‘Doing a deal’ and ‘possibly being obliged by arithmetical necessity to talking on a one-issue-at-a-time basis’ are comparable to committing yourself to a 5-year phone-contract and (reluctantly) using a PAYG system, so there is no disparity between (i) Ed Miliband’s absolute stance as party-leader vis-a-vis an SNP dedicated to (a) (gleefully) destroying Labour in Scotland (as it did in 1979, letting in Thatcher) while benefiting from the Devolution that opened the door to a ‘once-in-a-generation’ Referendum the SNP seem to want to repeat a.s.a.p. (b) if they can succeed with a Referendum, breaking up the UK. (ii) The realistic attitude, expressed by his lieutenants, that if there were a minority Labour Government and, on specific issues, SNP MPs on the same side of the argument, democracy would require that, if necessary, at least discussions be considered.
    Someone has written, in these Comments, of ‘a bunch of Unionists’. Even in Scotland, that ‘bunch of Unionists’ amounted to 51% (isn’t that called a ‘majority’?) of the population; but there are also at least a substantial proportion of the group dismissively referred to by the (arrogant, if I might say so) SNP as ‘the rUK’ amounting to several times the entire population of Scotland who consider themselves ‘de facto’ ‘Unionists’ – even if, unlike the SNP, they do not like to parade their national affinities with political labels..

  32. I can understand surprise that Miliband was so stupid as to admit this, but not why people are so surprised at the sentiment itself. Scottish Labour MPs spent months in the referendum telling us that they would prefer a Tory government in Westminster ruling Scotland to a Labour gov. in Holyrood. I see this refusal to allow SNP influence as an outworking of this preference.

  33. Muttley 79> Your point about views on a Labour majority in Scotland and an SNP majority in Scotland would have relevance, but that the Labour Party is INclusive – anyone can join it – whereas by its very name, let alone its policies, the SNP is EXclusive. That’s where the unhealthiness lies. Even to the extent, with the Referendum, of Scots born and bred, but now living elsewhere (especially, significantly, in England), being denied the right to vote. You COULD say that Ed Miliband’s absolute rejection of the SNP is fighting fire with fire.

    • Utter tosh, the referendum was for the people who live and work in Scotland regardless of race or ethnicity. And you can join the SNP if you so wish so it is not EXclusive.

      One of the things that is hoped that independence will bring is that we can have the economic powers to facilitate better jobs and careers to help stop our young folk having to seek a better life outside Scotland. But to say those who don’t live here have a right to vote on independence is ridiculous, why should someone who doesn’t live here have a say in the lives of people who do, they may have an emotional stake in Scotland but if you don’t live here then don’t expect a vote.

  34. Interesting analysis by Yougov commentator. Ed Milliband could have ignored Tory jibes re being beholden to the SNP. These have had little impact on the Yougov polls. Also Nicola Sturgeon is viewed in England as having had the most effective campaign. See: https://yougov.co.uk/news/2015/04/26/tories-pay-price-inept-campaign/

  35. It reminds me of the story of the three pigs. The Unionists have built their houses of straw and sticks so when Nicola comes along and blows their Unionist houses down, they scream in indignation, with much huffing and puffing. Moral of the story – when you`re a pig, don`t pretend to be a fox.

  36. Pointless doing a deal with Clegg if the Lib Dems win hardly any seats, which seems quite possible.

    Milliband is being badly advised and others in his party seem already to be lining up against him.

    The SNP seem to have made a deal with Milliband’s Labour impossible by believing in all the things Labour used to believe in: welfare, NHS, anti-austerity, getting rid of Trident, etc.

  37. What, Peter Arnott? You actually believe Milliband meant what he said? “No coalitions & no deals” doesn’t mean “no informal arrangement”.

  38. Will David Cameron offer Nicola Scotland associate status with five year agreements on Defence?

  39. No, Ed said, no deals no coalition no pacts. these were never on offer. He never said no vote by vote. Its a con, to get Tory off his back and to protect his UK Labour supporters. Libs will only get around 8 seats. Ed will talk with Nicola, or the party will replace the leader and get one who is a bit more professional.

  40. What Ed is really concerned about is England. he made a speech the other day in which he denounced nationalism. He wasn’t talking about the SNP’s pro Scottish socialism he was gnashing his teeth at the inevitable English backlash that he and his unionist establishment colleagues fear like the day of Judgement. It is an inevitable consequence of unbalanced devolution with the additional insult of trying to break England into regions too. The union is on life support. Independence is coming, be careful what you wish for, you might get it whether you like it or not

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