A lot of interest and hot feeling about the previous post on Divided Loyalties displaying exactly what the title says. Some believe there should be no support for a Tory government – ever – and others are already on the pragmatic road.
As I said, I think it unlikely there will be the opportunity for the SNP to prop up a Conservative administration and my guess is a return of the current Coalition under Cameron with the reduced Lib Dems and possibly one other. (The DUP are pouting at all-comers, although their total might not be enough and I’m not sure there would be a deal between them and the UU given tensions over candidates in key seats).
It’s probably safe enough for the SNP to take the short-term gamble of distancing themselves from the Tories before the election since the chance of them being needed to form a government (or at least buttress it by no confidence votes) is remote.
But it is possible, if enough of them are elected, as any leader would prefer a stable platform with one partner with easily enough votes to scraping through with an assortment of disparate groupings. That would seem a recipe for failure and a new election.
The right deal with the SNP though could guarantee a full term. I have no doubt that Miliband would work with the SNP and there have been no direct contradictions of this in principle, as far as I can find, from Labour – only the exclusion of any removal of Trident (but not ruling out a fudge like a time delay on renewal).
This is where some professional forecasters are looking – a Labour/SNP arrangement – and they may well be right. In which case, there are any amount of deals to be done and even, in theory, new working relationships to be formed between bitter enemies who will find themselves effectively on the same side against Tories (and their Lib Dem fellow travellers) and UKIP.
Personally, I find that an attractive prospect in that many real Labour Party members would ditch the pro-Tory austerity and seek an alliance with another party which is closer to their own core values and support than the leadership dare admit. All this would be to the benefit to the Scottish voters who are turned off by the tribal acrimony and can discern joint advantage now the referendum is over.
A period of years of shaping policy jointly – if that were possible with the likes of Ed Balls – would inevitably ease inter-party tensions and maybe both sides could become truly themselves. That means ditching the automatic hostility and demonisation and focussing on the UK’s needs and finding solutions which satisfy the majority. In such arrangements the rougher edges of each partner are rubbed smooth so is it possible Labour could be released from its relentless right-wing path by joining with the SNP and could Nationalists concentrate on making the presumed prize of Home Rule work fully? It could also mean that in future voting SNP at Westminster elections is less of a threat to Labour if there is an established working relationship in place. (Am I sounding too much like Henry McLeish?)
A general election run-in may not be the time for this thinking but on the other hand, perhaps it is exactly the right time to open up minds to new ways of thinking which could deliver real benefits for Scots.
Back to the Tories though, and it is the SNP’s obligation to work for the advance of the Scottish nation in all circumstances. The possibility must be faced…that Cameron makes an approach with a package so attractive that the SNP knows in its heart it shouldn’t be turned down because this chance may not come again. It can’t be dismissed as only theoretical because all of the above is surmise. This is the first election where even the experts admit they don’t know how the cards will fall.
So if it does happen, how does Nicola wriggle out from her ‘No deal with Tories’ assertion? Or did she really mean ‘No propping up’ and is there a clever use of words here that leaves open the possibility.
We may not to want to consider the idea but this is the sharp end of politics and, despite the fury of critics, I believe a deal would have to be done. In fact, you could argue that by declaring No Deal she is actually upping the ante with the Tories who know they really would have to offer something jaw-dropping to force an understanding.
Then it would come down to how much you ‘hate the Tories’. Do you hate them so much you’d disadvantage Scotland? Say no to full tax-raising powers? Oil revenues? Would you turn down everything but macro economics and foreign affairs? Would you punish Scotland because you hated the Tories so much and couldn’t work with them even if you could effectively disconnect the country from them?
I don’t believe this is likely to happen and even Labour would try the Lib Dems first, but you know this election is a roller coaster and once under way, there is no stopping till you come out the other end. Hold on tight…by