If you head over the BBC right now you’ll find an article on the front page titled, ‘David Cameron calls on Ed Miliband to rule out SNP deal’. Apparently the PM claimed that an SNP/Labour coalition would be the, ‘worst outcome’ of the election and that; ‘You could end up with an alliance between the people who want to bankrupt Britain and the people who want to break up Britain.’ This not an unfair comment, but Cameron seems gleefully ignorant of his own hypocrisy here. We’re talking about the leader of a party that is leaning ever closer the right wing ridiculousness that is UKIP, a leader who is organising a referendum that could see the UK leaving the European Union – a consequence of this potentially being the break up of the entirety of the EU.
I find it strange that these discrepancies are often overlooked by the media. It’s as if modern journalists and writers aren’t allowed to analyse these stories – aren’t allowed to think beyond the sheen of ‘what has just happened’ and connect the present happenings with ‘what has passed’. We could also comment on the current coalition – who would have thought the Conservative government would ally with the Liberal Democrats in the last election, especially when considering how different the aims of both parties were at that time? Perhaps, had the politicians known that the election would be so close and result in the need for a coalition, they would have tried to do what they are doing now – burning down potential bridges between parties that could form an opposing government.
As I see it, from my vantage point up here in Edinburgh, I can say with some certainty that Labour is more than a little bit screwed. They’re not as screwed as the Conservatives, or the Lib Dems, or UKIP – but they really have an uphill battle if they want to win over the hearts and minds of the Scottish people. Last year, Labour stood firmly on the side of the ‘No’ side of the Scottish Referendum question; they maintained that by voting ‘No’ Scotland would reap the rewards of additional powers granted by the government without going as far as breaking up the 300 year old Acts of Union.
Problem is, the Smith Commission didn’t really go far enough, and the Westminster government delivered a backhander by adding conditions to the powers – that being to remove the right of Scottish MPs to vote on legislation relevant only to England. So that argument has completely fallen apart. Not only this, but the official line from Labour to encourage it’s voter base to vote ‘No’ was challenged by the formation of Labour for Independence – a political organisation that sought to encourage Labour supporters to vote for independence. This organisation was formed due to huge levels of dissatisfaction from a significant number of Labour voters, who had numerous issues with the Scottish Labour Party – whether that be from the simple ‘No’ allegiance, to disappointment with New Labour and previous (and current) Labour leaders.
All of this has lead to a dramatic fall in support of the Labour Party up here in Scotland, and many have ‘defected’ to the SNP and the Green Party.
So what am I saying? I’m saying that an SNP majority in Scotland is almost a certainty, and that Miliband would do well to keep the door between Labour and the SNP open. He’s currently running around Scotland trying to shut the doors on all the Labour supporters that are leaving – which would be fine, if he wasn’t also saying things like ‘every one less Labour MP’ will lead to the triumph of the Conservative party, or that ‘we are working for a majority Labour government […] I think we will leave those grand coalitions to other countries’.
Leave grand coalitions to other countries? Does Miliband know anything about the current political environment? We are in the middle of a recession; an unfortunate economic situation which tends to test and challenge traditional political models and turns many voters to radical politics and radical solutions. The Green vote is on the rise, the UKIP vote is on the rise, the various Socialist parties are also seeing hefty gains – and most of these voters are moving to these smaller parties from beneath the arm of Labour, Lib Dem and the Conservatives. Politics always becomes a little more fragmented during these times, and there will likely be another coalition government following the election in May. Shutting the door on Labour voters so they can’t leave is one thing, but fighting the SNP directly for votes and assuming that Labour will secure enough votes to avoid a ‘grand coalition’ will likely sour the relationship between the two parties. The enemy of your enemy is your friend, no?
But the whole situation offends me on a far more basic level, that being that Cameron feels he is in a position to demand that Miliband reject a potential alliance with the SNP. Does anyone really have the right to do that? It’s a bit like that boy at the birthday party who thinks that the cake is for him, but he’s not the birthday boy – ‘But David, it’s not your birthday,’ explains Nicola Sturgeon as she passes, but before she places the cake down in front of Miliband, David gives Ed a hard dig in the ribs. ‘You better not touch that cake,’ says David, ‘if it’s not for me, then it’s not for you either.’
Anyway, shouldn’t the parties really be spending this time talking about policies and proposals? About what they intend to do with the country in the future, rather than what they plan to do with each other? It does little to combat the cynical view that the politicians are all in it for themselves, when they’re all talking about being in it for themselves…