So today Ed Miliband is ruling out a coalition with the SNP.
It’s not exactly Earth shattering, because the SNP isn’t really in favour of one … but this is a move designed purely to appease the moaning Scottish MP’s in his own party, and to save their largely worthless skins. It’s contemptible.
It is cowardly and disgraceful and effectively takes care of business destroying them up here as a political force with an ounce of moral authority.
It is also pretty near untenable, as I am going to explain to you.
This decision – in particular the pledge not to grant any SNP members a ministerial role – effectively disenfranchises Scotland and every single one of our votes.
It shows the union up for the unequal, undemocratic sham that it is and the memory of that will last as long as the current political system does.
On the day 50 odd SNP parliamentarians turn up to take part in what will be a five year fist-fight, with not an ounce of actual authority, rendering Scotland’s voice silent as the chaos unfolds, the final act will begin in this farce they call the United Kingdom.
Labour is embracing that chaos today. They are ruling out even entering talks on the subject, not even in good faith. It stinks morally and it is diabolically bad politics, some of the worst I’ve ever seen. If the intention was to feed into every negative perception the Scottish people have about Westminster it accomplished that in spades.
For too many years a lot of people in Scotland kidded themselves that by voting Labour and getting the occasional government that our views were being taken seriously. Nothing demonstrates more clearly the depth of disrespect that party has for our genuine democratic will than the self-abuse strategy Miliband has embraced here today.
He is condemning his party to having to rule on a policy-by-policy basis, shutting out our representatives from every major decision, getting by, if necessary, with the support of the Tory Party they are allegedly seeking to replace.
This gives David Cameron’s evil movement another shot at government, by covert means.
It means Labour will be forced to negotiate with them on everything from deficit reduction to the renewal of nuclear weapons, without even the semblance of a wider debate being had.
What price now the soul of the Labour movement?
How do you govern, morally, when you’ve told a party that agrees with your base and your core support on any number of issues that no matter how many seats they win, they won’t have any around the cabinet table, and instead embrace your political enemies, and seek to rule with their consent instead? How do you square that with your voters?
It is breathtakingly arrogant; Labour at its best. It seals their fate in Scotland.
To Hell with them. To Hell with them all. This is another reason to hammer their coffin lid shut in every seat up here.
Let them lock us out. It will make what we have to do next that much easier.
Yet, of course, Miliband is not alone in this.
Yesterday the Lib Dems led off with the same pledge.
I know. I know. Like some political commentators, I believe that you have to take anything a Liberal Democrat says with a pinch of salt.
Not just a pinch, if I’m being honest …. Nowadays, I’d need the whole of the Saxa factory to dispel the notion they were taking the piss if they said the grass was green.
Yesterday, Nick Clegg made his rallying speech to the troops, and other party representatives were scurrying to and fro through the TV studios and newspaper offices in an orgy of self-justification.
Two things about Clegg’s speech ripped me. The first was when he called the SNP and the other “minor” parties a “rag tag mob”, which is rich coming from someone whose party will be all but washed away when the tide comes in.
The second was that he talked about “winning again”.
What that means to him, of course, isn’t about the number of seats … it’s about being back in power.
What balls this guy has. Electoral Calculus has them winning just 14 … a loss of over 40.
The SNP will be going up at least one seat for each one they lose … and yet we are part of the “rag tag mob” whilst the Westminster Village takes this joker and his party seriously …
I would laugh if I didn’t want to vomit.
But his “analysis”, and Miliband’s ridiculous statement today, ignores reality.
Every newspaper and commentator in the land has spent the last few weeks trying to make square pegs fit into round holes. How, they’ve all asked, can we get either Labour or the Conservatives over the line with support from the Liberal Democrats and others … but excluding the SNP?
Every conceivable scenario has been tried and tested to destruction, including, for both parties, a Rainbow Coalition of Lib Dems, Greens and Ulster MP’s as though it were even possible to get these people to agree on anything at all except that they’d like to be in office.
But see, that’s where the political discourse is now. Anything to keep out the SNP. Anything to stop the people of Scotland from actually getting what they voted for, which is nothing more than a fair shake at the running of the country.
They couldn’t be more blatant if they stuck a sign outside Westminster saying “No Jocks Please, We’re British.”
The narrative they’re trying to feed the electorate down south is such a complete fraud it almost takes your breath away to contemplate it. Their rationale – their excuse – for not wanting the SNP near the levers of power is that they are “committed to the break-up of the country.”
That, of course, is technically correct, but we’re a long way from the time when it was SNP policy, in precisely the scenario where they’d won the majority of Scottish seats in a UK race, simply to go for a unilateral declaration of independence and have done with it.
Now, we can argue the rights and wrongs, the perils, pitfalls and potential, of the unilateral declaration some other time (the next article, actually) but without that commitment in the manifesto it will take another referendum before the SNP can accomplish their goal … and until then, they are simply another party in the Westminster parliament, with as much right as any to making a go at being part of the government.
It’s not like there’s no precendent for this either. Sinn Fein has government seats in a parliament it would vote out of existence in a heartbeat. There are Republican Party congressmen and senators who hang the Confederate Flag in their Capitol Building offices. This argument they’re making … even if it were correct, it does not supercede the democratic will of the electorate.
No-one down there wants to hear that. Shame on them.
Let’s look, then, at the Rainbow Coalition nonsense that’s being talked about at an alternative.
Let’s crunch the numbers to see what’s possible and what’s not.
The Tories have already ruled out a coalition agreement involving the SNP, but we know that’s a little bit like being the ugly kid at the school dance who can’t get the girl he fancies and so becomes a bitter wee bastard instead, telling the world he doesn’t like her anyway. Cameron knows that Nicola would sooner cut her own arms off than prop up his corrupt, evil party and its commitment to waging unrelenting class war for the next five years.
Likewise, the Lib Dems announcement of yesterday which, because of the pasting they are about to get north and south of the border, has as much force and effect as if The Farmers Coalition of Cornwall came out against the idea.
Electoral Calculus has the Lib Dems projected to win just 14 seats to the SNP’s 40 odd, and the SNP number, as I’ve suggested in the previous piece, is probably about a dozen short of what’s likely.
The hysterical voices that were raised at the weekend, talking about a “democratic deficit” should the SNP wind up holding the balance of power, ought to consider that Scotland’s party is polling at just under 4% of the national share of the vote for the whole of this island … and running in only one part of it, whilst the Greens, running UK wide, are polling at 6%, and being considered credible coalition partners.
They, by the way, are projected to win a single seat.
What’s more, the Liberal Democrats are polling at just 8% UK wide.
The most optimistic poll for the Tories is the one The Guardian runs on its website. I have no idea where they are getting their projections from, but they are the only people who have the Tories with a likely lead in the number of seats overall.
They give the Tories 281 seats, which is actually fairly ludicrous. No other poll gives them anything near that. Electoral Calculus has them on 258. UK Polling Report has them on 266.
But let’s err on the side of caution, and accept The Guardian projection as accurate.
With 281 seats they would be 45 short of a majority. With the Lib Dems supporting them, they would have, according to The Guardian’s projections, 306 seats … still 20 short. (The Guardian has the Lib Dems on a grossly optimistic 25 seats, which is 11 higher than the polls suggest.)
Throw in UKIP and their projected 4 seats, and you’re still not there. Add to that the other most likely right-wing party, the DUP, and their estimated 9 seats … and you still have a minority government, trying to run the country for five long years.
The bottom line here is that with Nicola and Alex having ruled out any deal that ends with the Tories in power, there’s no clear route back to Downing Street for this appalling, anti-social government of theirs.
With these numbers, and with SNP support, they could make it, with a little wiggle room … but with that off the table they’re screwed … and remember that The Guardian’s polling is by far the most optimistic in terms of how well they’ll do.
With the Electoral Calculus numbers, they are 70 short of Downing Street, which means even the SNP couldn’t save them if that were ever remotely likely. UK Polling Report has them slightly better off, but only by 10 seats, leaving them the same set of problems.
Bottom line; David Cameron should start packing up his boxes right now, because he has next to no chance of still being in Downing Street come 8 May. That’s borne out in every opinion poll, and it will take a national catastrophe to change it.
Yet, the road hardly looks any clearer for Labour.
The Guardian has them at 265 seats, 61 seats short of being home. So, even with the SNP’s projected 53 seats, they’re not quite there. By those figures, to rule out any deal involving the SNP pretty much damns Miliband to being a Prime Minister without a mandate, forced into a thousand compromises with the party he just replaced in office.
Shambolic, and disastrous for us all. What a long nightmare it would be.
If, as one suspects, the Lib Dems do take their electoral tanking and it ends either with Clegg no longer having a seat (tantalisingly possible) or, more likely, his being turfed out of the leadership role, some form of three-way agreement between the SNP, the Lib Dems and Labour would have seen the country run quite effectively, even in this “worst Labour result” scenario.
Yet this is precisely what Miliband has committed his party to ruling out.
Well done that man. You certainly have thought this through …
Let’s go further, and remove the SNP from the equation on Electoral Calculus, which has Labour on 309 seats (which is optimistic).
They still couldn’t form a government with only Lib Dem support as they will have only 14 seats, leaving this coalition 3 short of the winning post. With the SNP in the fold, with or without Clegg and his mob, the majority would have been very comfortable indeed.
On UK Polling Report, Labour comes up 31 seats short, on 295. With SNP support they could do it with a lot of room to spare. Without it, they would be in the same position as the Tories … trying to run a minority administration, with every single vote hanging by a thread.
No combination of other parties, except for the Labour-Tory “grand coalition” would sustain them.
Stripped down to the bones, these numbers reveal the shocking level of resistance to any coalition agreement that involves the SNP.
Cobbling together a coalition from the left without them looks like a non-starting event, as most in Labour realise … yet this is the scenario they’ve embraced. And with some amount of relish that is impossible to understand.
The clock is winding down on Cameron’s career. He ran against Gordon Brown, who was loathed by millions, and couldn’t win. Here, against a guy he’s slammed as “weak” and “extremist”, depending on the mood, he’s even further from victory. He will be remembered as one of the worst British Prime Ministers in history, and the Tory leader who couldn’t win against two of the most inept leaders in Labour’s.
Anything else would require a spectacular transformation in the electoral landscape of England. It will not come about.
Because of that, no coalition of willing participants would get them to a majority based on the current numbers, even at their most optimistic, which are those in The Guardian’s online tracking poll.
Without a majority they can’t govern at all. The opposition would butcher every piece of legislation they proposed. It would be five years of slow bleeding, and neither they nor the country could cope with something like that.
Labour’s position, without the SNP, is equally dire though. Their “favoured” partners are the Lib Dems, which tells you all you need to know, and they are in a whole heap of trouble and won’t have the seats to get Miliband over the line.
What the London political establishment is going to have to wrap its brains around is that the SNP will be the king makers here if Scotland holds its nerve and sends all those MP’s south. That is no longer in the slightest of doubt. They will be the third biggest party.
Labour will need some kind of understanding with them – whatever that might involve – or Miliband is going to be a Prime Minister without a government or effective means of running one.
Without a coalition or some form of structured arrangement, this parliament will be the most fractured this country has ever seen. It is not inconcievable that indvidual bills could be passing on single digit mandates which will send the leaders of each party to the fringes, with even UKIP MP’s deciding issues of huge significance or getting incredible guarantees in return.
Each would have an individual power not seen since that which wrought such havoc in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the 18th Century, the liberum veto, an unrestricted right to cause maximum havoc, derailing all progress with the simple act of saying “Nie pozwalam!” – “I do not allow!”
The Liberal Democrats can talk about “victory” all they want, and Miliband can talking about “governing for the whole island”, but their contemptuous attitude towards Scotland has plunged the Westminster system into the gravest non-military crisis in its history.
The “rag tag mob” are holding all the cards here. Some acknowledgement of that fact had better come soon, and the “three main parties” better start embracing what that means.
It’s not only Cameron who’s living on borrowed time. The Westminster system – and with it the union – is too.
There are 51 days to go.
Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Tick-tock.
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