The BBC, slightly oddly, makes a confident claim today that an SNP-Labour coalition; “simply won’t happen”. It goes on to lay out the arithmetic and schemes behind a ‘confidence and supply’ arrangement. Well, I guess the BBC bod has had good access and I knows it’s a popular thesis, but really?

Imagine an earnest prime minister Miliband making a major policy announcement in the House of Commons and the cameras looking straight to the opposition benches for Alex Salmond’s reaction. Everyone would know that the SNP leader would have the veto on every single piece of legislation, so inevitably he’d be; ‘the guy who’s really running the UK’. Week after week, announcement after announcement. Headline after headline. In the world media, too. I mean, how could that possibly be the basis for a stable, 5 year government?

Some folk say the SNP would never bring down a Labour government as this would let the Tories in, but In truth no-one really knows how the politics created by the Fixed Term Parllament Act  2011 would work. One thing is clear, though – Alex Salmond would have all the good cards.

Meanwhile, though, the SNP general election vote seems likely to at least double and that’s because a lot of new folk have come to prefer them as the party of government they are in Scotland. They don’t see the SNP as a party of protest or opposition. Such folk will vote in SNP MPs expecting them to help run the country if they do well enough, not shirk the responsibility to govern in favour of weekly guerrilla tactics like the olden days.

No, If Labour and the SNP are large enough to do it, it may well need to be a full coalition.

Oh, yeah, and those plaid folk will want part of the action too, by the way…





6 Responses to A full Lab/SNP coalition’s more likely than folk think
  1. Mr Joyce, you make a very good argument to support the proposition that, depending on the arithmetic, Labour would want to tie the SNP into a coalition. Your second paragraph in particular is spot-on.

    But – why on earth would the SNP want to help Labour, of all parties on this earth, form a stable government not dependent on the whim of Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon?

    • Thanks, Richard. Super question – here’s my own stab at an answer.

      The SNP wants independence first and foremost. They see that as the best thing for people living in Scotland. They’ve convinced a lot of Scots of the independence case, but not quite enough to win the referendum last year. Since the referendum, though, they’ve likely convinced quite a lot more folk. If they can keep this level support then they’ll certainly win next year’s Scottish elections, they’ll win very substantial new powers and they may concievably get a referendum. But their new (and old) supporters don’t want chaos. They want a nice civil society run by sensible-ish politicians. So in Scotland, the SNP is pretty sensible in government – often unspectacular, plodding even, but always all of these things with an eye on how they serve the independence objective. If the SNP shares UK government, they’ll present the same face. Indeed, lost of English folk will at the same time be hacked off at the deal Scots get and wish they had a similar party in charge.
      During all of this time, the SNP will have a clear plan for independence and every time there’s a negotiation with a coalition partner/whatever, they’ll by looking to loosen the ties that bind bit by bit. At the same time, stopping that loosening will not be a priority of the party which provides the prime mininster.

  2. Surely Miliband would make sure he had the requisite support before announcing policy to the House?

    It’s also worth noting that a confidence & supply arrangement has advantages for a minority Labour government as well as for the SNP – it would give Labour the ability to do deals with other parties where there is common ground. With a key example being the renewal of Trident, which Labour could put through with Tory support, but which the SNP might well not support (and, even if they did officially, there’s no guarantee that their MPs wouldn’t rebel on the issue).

    • Sure, he would. But everyone would know he’d had to ask AS to give it the nod. And of course AS would smirk 🙂 knowingly. Moreover, clever journos would think up clever Qs designed to filch out issues which hadn’t been agreed in detail. Ed M couldn’t make up policy on the cuff, as PM’s sometimes have to do – he’d have to go back to AS on sometimes tiny points – the media would kill him for it. “Why not go away and ask Alex then come back to this press conf?”- type thing.

      Cricially, though, a confidence and supply arrangement in these circs would put huge, entirely unaccountable power into the hands of the opposition. This would include key matters of national security. That just wouldn’t cut it with the yanks or anyone else really. AS would be on US late-shows dicsussing nukes and looking like he’s in charge of the UK on one of the biggest issues of them all.

  3. If the SNP has the balance of power ie Lab + SNP = more than half MPs the situation will be different if Lab plus other minor parties can outvote Cons, SNP and DUP.

    In the latter specific the SNP might not want to vote down some measures.

    I don’t see a coalitions as inevitable and Nicola Sturgeon doesn’t appear to favour one either.

    She may have noted the likely fate of half the LD Parliamentary Party ..

    And it is in the interests is all those who oppose Ukip to see other parties out of government overtake them as the principal party of protest.

    Ed Mili has seemed to suggest he might choose to go it alone.

    • Whatever happens, the outcome needs to endure or there’ll be another election. A majority of a handful won’t do it.


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