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Can Scottish MPs Make a Difference In Westminster?

SNP conference 2013David Younger looks at the mass of contradictions ahead of the SNP at the next general election and questions the strategy many on the Yes side have moved towards.

No disrespect to the pollsters here but there are a number of factors which will alter this result dramatically.

One is that there is a tendency to treat the LibDems as a lost cause. This may be true but the LibDems have an enviable history of building up a strong constituency organisation in those constituencies they hold and they are very likely to be able to hold on to at least half of their present number of seats.

Another is the disruptive effect of the UKIP vote. We saw that recently when Labour came within a whisker of losing a seat in the last bye-election and this effect will be considerably greater in the general election. If UKIP pursue a policy of targeting all marginal seats as well as those they feel most confident of winning, then between forty and eighty seats could change hands between Labour and Conservative which adds to the uncertainty of the outcome.

Then there is the matter of what the Conservatives will do between now and May. After George Osborne’s apocryphal autumn statement, watch out for the budget. I expect something along the lines of: “Well, we told you things were going to be tough, but it seems that maybe, due to our masterful handling of the nation’s economy (no laughing here please – they actually believe this) things aren’t going to be quite so bad after all – here are some goodies.”

As for Labour, theirs is a soft vote. They bounced up by four points after the Autumn Statement and that can come down again just as quickly. The word from Central Office is that many senior figures in the Labour Party have begun to realise that Labour’s implosion in Scotland is in serious danger of being replicated in England and they have no answer to this. They are fighting with the Conservatives for the same ever-narrowing sector of the electorate and that is a battle they are always going to lose. Voters in England have taken notes here and there is growing distrust of Labour generally.

Political discourse in England has increased – not, perhaps, to the same extent as in Scotland but the referendum has had an effect across the whole of the UK. This may well be reflected in the turnout which could rise for the first time in many elections and who knows who these new voters may choose to vote for.

It’s early days yet and these figures will almost certainly change before May but the one thing that concerns me here is that, assuming the result is about as forecast here, why is it a good thing for the SNP to hold the balance of power? This is an incredibly dangerous position to be in. If the SNP prop up a minority Labour administration, the resentment in England would be colossal, both on the grounds that two-thirds of the electorate didn’t vote for them and – worst of all – that a party of Scottish MPs was holding Westminster to ransom. And things wouldn’t go too well for the SNP in Scotland either. To get anything near what the Scottish electorate would want to see – or regard as a success for the SNP – would involve rewriting the Labour manifesto. As a junior partner in a coalition, the SNP would take a battering, after all, the LibDems tried it and it didn’t work out so well for them.

The only path that the SNP could take is the most difficult of all. They could negotiate a withdrawal of Scottish MPs from Westminster. We could call it DevoMax to make everyone comfortable, but even if it comes out as complete independence, this is not so outlandish as it may first appear. The Conservatives, for one, would identify advantages in that they would probably be able to continue their coalition in a reduced parliament while being free of the stigma of being the party which oversaw the break-up of the UK. Labour, after their meltdown in Scotland, would be desperate to avoid a repeat in England and the English electorate would at last feel that they had a legislature that was for them and not influenced by others.

The problem is selling it to Scotland. This may sound silly given that there is already a bedrock support for independence and the opposition is – or certainly appears to be – soft but there is still considerable concern about the UK fiscal position. John Warren’s excellent piece lifts the lid a little on the practical problems which both the main Westminster parties have tied themselves into – with no plan B by the way – but his subject analysis does not address the issue of how the UK presently props up the balance of payments deficit. This is done by converting wealth into assets – overwhelmingly property. These assets produce virtually no new wealth, serving merely to protect wealth already in existence and serving as an attractor for wealth from abroad. Scotland has the advantage of a balance of payments surplus (not including oil) and, as Jim Sillars pointed out in the referendum debates, this in itself attracts an inward flow of foreign funds. Indeed, no less a body than the IMF predicted that an independent Scottish currency would be more likely to face problems of over valuation rather than a fall in value.

The problem is in selling the idea that we do not have to order our fiscal affairs as a mirror image of Westminster and in the referendum debate the Yes camp manifestly failed to do this, partly because so much attention was fixed on the SNPs plans for an independent Scotland which were picked at by the opposition in purely Westminster terms. The SNP have an Achilles heel in that, as they stand at present, they are both a functioning political party and an independence movement. Sometimes you can’t be both. Part of the success of the Better Together campaign was founded on their successfully treating the Referendum like a general election with emphasis on party politics. Weaknesses in the SNP manifesto were seized upon and no reference was ever made to the fact that, in an independent Scotland, the SNP would be just one party – indeed they might even split to form more than one party. Instead, the emphasis was on what an independent Scotland would be like as a de facto one party state.

The SNP, as power brokers in Westminster, would fail miserably in the face of the opposition which would come from all sides and they would achieve little for the people of Scotland. They would have no friends in parliament apart from a handful of MPs and their party political ambitions would be torn apart. Better they stick to independence and leave the other MPs to fight their own battles.

Comments (62)

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  1. autonomyscotland says:

    Reblogged this on Common Weal.

  2. benmadigan says:

    posted yesterday what appears to be a sort of companion piece to this – particularly with regards to the central paragraphs and the question “why is it a good thing for the SNP to hold the balance of power?”

    It sets out the current statistics as well as the pros and cons of potential and likely outcomes of the 2015 General Election.


  3. macart763 says:

    As I understood it, the SNP would negotiate support on a vote by vote basis and that such support would be conditional. When did they declare they’d form a coalition with anyone? The one thing they did rule out categorically was propping any Tory government.

    Or has there been further releases by the SG on the matter?

    1. MBC says:

      Agree Macart. This article makes a lot of assumptions. It would be far better to avoid any form of formal coalition. Look what happened to the LibDems.

      1. macart763 says:

        Politics is a pretty misleading game at the best of times and generally practised by people versed in the dark arts of misdirection, double speak and quick change. It never really helps to assume anything and its always best to form an opinion on policies made, actions taken, effects achieved or not as the case may be and points of record.

        Until such times as the SNP actually say they plan any form of coalition, then its best to take them on their original statement.

        I’m not much into political game playing myself. Neither the whatiffery or the whataboutery, the overthink or the overanalyse. Someone either has your best interests at heart and works to benefit all in their population/community/work/home or they do not.

        The establishment parties have used up their coinage on that count. The SNP have proven capable and as far as politicians can be, reasonably trustworthy and transparent by comparison. They’ve earned the right to be taken at their word on this matter. I’d sooner trust them to represent Scotland’s interests at Westminster than, yet again, send down the same representation we have for the past several decades and watch as yet more misery is inflicted on the electorate.

  4. Jim Arnott says:

    The IFS are merely restating what McCrone said in the mid 70’s. An independent Scotland would have a strong currency – indeed so strong it could pose some problems. Well guess what, I would prefer a strong currency to having to live with a decimated Sterling which will happen when interest rates rise making UK debt unsustainable. The Referendum result merely De onstrates that we Scots never learn.

  5. JPJ2 says:

    ” Better they stick to independence and leave the other MPs to fight their own battles.”

    Sheer idiocy. Electing anyone other than the SNP is to GUARANTEE very poor prospects for Scotland.

    Who is David Younger campaigning for in the 2015 GE?

  6. david steel says:

    its a good piece this – Sturgeon and Salmond (as defacto westminster leader) has ruled out coalition with the Tories but what happens if they are the largest party but need SNP to Govern. The labour party would be the smaller of the two big parties but wont give in to Salmonds demands ….. would they try to govern minority government ? but if a vote of no confidence SNP could bring them down.
    It would be a political stalemate – with the SNP blamed as wreckers of the British parliament and in any quick rerun of GE how would it play with ex labour voters who shifted to SNP when they realise that even with 40 mps SNP cant do anything without agreement with the others and is impotent.

    In my humble opinion the one view that might get some traction is the one stated in the article where Salmond could go to the Tories and say to them – Fully federal solution to UK , Scotland gets all the powers it requires under the UK banner and the Tories get an eternal inbuilt majority in what becomes a defacto English Parliament , with only English votes for English Laws and no subsidy junkie scots to worry about.

    The real treat behind this idea is the EU in/out referendum that only the Tories are delivering and with an out result based on English votes then that gives the newly federal Scotland a big excuse to take the now tiny further step to independence for Scotland.

    So in short – forget the red tories and stitch a deal for full devomax / federalism with the blue ones – its not a coalition with them but delivery of all the powers Scotland needs once and for all with the big carrot of indyref 2 if England votes us out of Europe.

    1. David Agnew says:

      nice idea in theory, but in practice not so much. Since the 97 the party has not been able to shed itself of the mantle of the anti-Scottish party. Its never even looked in the mirror let alone begun to talk about how it came to pitiful state it finds itself in. Instead we see them declare that its simply down to us not listening to them. Its a mindstate that has transformed them into a toxic and lethal political cocktail.

      The SNP will well remember what happened the last time they made a deal with the conservatives and it has taken this long for them to truly recover. The Tories are the party whose Scottish leader declared with confidence to an English party conference that 9 out of 10 Scottish households had contributed nothing to the success of Britain. It was Osborne who went one step further and declared that Scotland had only been allowed to use the pound, and subsequently had contributed nothing to the success of sterling either. On just about every constitutional matter it has been proven that they are as dishonest as Scottish labour. The SNP simply won’t do it.

  7. Martin Wood says:

    As things have progressed the idea of an SNP powerbroker arrangement seems less likely.
    It would not be tolerated by the English electorate and suicide in England for Labour.
    This whole thing seems to be a mess in waiting and a “National Government” looks like the solution the Conservatives and Labour will reach for.
    How this plays out in Scotland is anyones guess

    1. Mr T says:

      Good to see that someone is looking at this from the south of the border perspective.

      Why wouldn’t Labour (who hate the SNP with a vengeance) just say to the SNP “we don’t feel that we can enter into an agreement with a political organisation that is diametrically opposed to much of what we stand for.”

      What do the SNP do then?
      1. Abstain from voting and let Labour control parliament without any concessions to the SNP?
      1a. Abstain, but now a Tory / Lib Dem / UKIP / DUP coalition might be biggest.
      2. Side with Labour anyway, and so Labour get the benefits and the SNP still get no concessions.
      3. Side with the Tories to spite Labour.

      In the long term there is no downside for Labour not agreeing anything with the SNP. Either they will get the SNP’s support but not have to give any concessions, or they show that a vote for the SNP is a vote for the Tories.

      If Labour DO enter into some sort of agreement with the SNP it will only encourage further calls for independence / devo max that will hurt Labour.

      Interesting times!

      1. muttley79 says:

        Labour cannot show that a vote for the SNP is a vote for the Tories because of the election results of 1979, 1983, 1987, 1992 and 2010, amongst others. When are Labour types going to acknowledge these catastrophic failures to prevent the most neo-liberal Tory governments imaginable?

      2. Steve B says:

        If Labour want to play hardball then the SNP can vote for them in confidence motions but against Labour on everything else thus keeping Labour in power as a zombie government unable to do anything else. This is perfectly feasible since the coalition brought in the Fixed Term Parliaments Act. Sooner or later Labour would have to do deals with the SNP or other parties in order to get things done.

        If Labour instead choose to go in with the Tories then that finishes them for good in Scotland (and probably in England and Wales as well).

        As said above we are blessed to live in interesting times!

        1. Peter A Bell says:

          Good to see somebody thinking in terms of options rather than obstacles.

    2. Not sure why you think the “SNP as power broker” scenario is less likely? If GE15 delivers another hung parliament with the SNP/Greens/PC holding the balance of power…..what other solution would you suggest? The proposed Con/Lab National Coalition idea may be attractive to dyed in the wool britnats and atavistic SNP haters in NuLab (we all remember their unthinking hatred in 2010 when they set their faces against any attempt to even try and form an alternative to the ConDem Coalition, don’t we?), but it is probably even more of an existential threat to Labour in northern England, never mind Scotland, than Better Together proved for Scottish Labour.

      Of course things may change over coming months, but the polling evidence so far, and the smart money in betting odds, is still pointing towards Labour as biggest party but well short of an absolute majority (whatever “John” Murphy says!). In that scenario Labour would be well advised to finally show us the corpse of the vile New Labour project, and negotiate the best deal they can with the SNP. If that entails ditching Trident, delivering devo max, electoral reform etc, etc….Hell, they’ll be biting Big Eck’s hand off!

      Given what happened to the LD’s after their disastrous mishandling of the Coalition negotiations in the ten days in May 2010, the SNP just have to hold their nerve. No formal coalition is necessary or indeed desirable; all they have to do is make their terms abundantly clear, and ensure Labour’s feet are held to the fire.

      I think it’s a win/win for Scotland; either Labour do the right thing, or another GE is inevitable. That will lead to further increase in SNP support, and with luck #indyref2 in short order.

  8. Peter A Bell says:

    The key word here is “options”. The most valuable commodity in politics. To put it as simply as possible, voting SNP opens up options for Scotland. Voting for any of the British parties closes off options.

    Given that we cannot possibly know the precise outcome of the coming UK general election, we have to play safe and vote SNP. Imagining all the possible outcomes is pointless exercise, even if entertaining in the way that speculation always is for a certain breed of political anorak. We cannot possibly vote in such a way as to cover all possible outcomes. And if we listen to all the pundits urging us to vote according to their favoured outcome we will end up with nothing more than a headache.

    There is no doubt that a substantial contingent of SNP MPs holding the balance of power at Westminster would present the party with some serious conundrums. But the alternative is to go back to business as usual with the faux rivalries of the British parties and Scotland being, at best, ignored and, quite probably, punished. To vote for the British parties is to abandon the gains that have been made as a result of the referendum campaign. A vote for the SNP is a vote to consolidate those gains.

    1. deewal says:

      Nailed as usual by Mr Bell.

    2. David Younger says:

      I’m not suggesting that we vote in any way tactically, or that we should not vote SNP. What I have tried to do here is to point out tis a very dangerous road ahead for us, regardless of the outcome. The perspective south of the border is very different from what we see up here. I don’t see even the limited Smith Commission proposals getting through Parliament and that is yet another dimension to take into account. I, for one, will not vote for any Westminster-based party but what I don’t want to see is the potential for a majority independence movement wasted if voters see some sort of deal after the election which is clearly not working.

      1. Peter A Bell says:

        The question is moot as the British parties are likely to come to some accommodation amongst themselves in order to prevent the SNP acting a power-brokers. In which case, a strong contingent of SNP MPs becomes even more important. Otherwise, Scotland will have no voice at all at Westminster.

    3. Barbara McKenzie says:

      Spot on, Peter Bell.

  9. Gordon bradley says:

    All bets on a ” national government ”
    When this was first mooted I was sceptical.
    Then progressively persuaded till now it has the ring of inevitability to it.
    Scotland will go mental. Stitched up again !
    What larks !
    Its going to lively !

    1. The National Government route would be the death knell for Labour in Scotland (although they are already in melt-down!) and probably in much of northern & urban England. It would be a defining moment for them, much as it was the last time the experiment was tried. I just don’t see it happening – and if it did, it will simply increase support for the SNP and independence, leading to indyref2 being called for and probably won following a renewed mandate after HR elections in 2016.

      1. muttley79 says:

        Correct Andy. SLAB would be almost certainly signing their own death warrant if there was a Tory-Labour government at Westminster, although as far as I am aware no Labour figures have yet denied it. They would be dead in Wales, and much of the north of England as well.

      2. Steve B says:

        Actually a Labour / Tory coalition wouldn’t just kill the Labour Party it’d split it from top to bottom with possibly breakaway party(ies) being formed – with MPs and MSPs splitting away which would lead to all sorts of consequences as well. I suspect lessons of Ramsay McDonald’s National Government are still remembered as folklore within Labour and its for this, and other reasons, that they’d only go down this route if absolutely desperate (or even more politically inept than normal).

      3. Mathew says:

        Agree with the above, I think the trauma of a second election would be preferable to Labour than a national government. Holyrood, though, could be a different matter – wouldn’t surprise me to see Labour and the Tories band together to remove the SNP from power.

  10. muttley79 says:

    The SNP have an Achilles heel in that, as they stand at present, they are both a functioning political party and an independence movement.

    You could make a good case that the SNP were both before the 2011 elections came through, although there were still unaligned left wingers who supported independence. However, in the years since then, and particularly after the referendum result, I do not think you can say the SNP is the, or an, independence movement, given other political parties campaigned for. They are the leading pro-independence party, but the movement is far broader than the SNP now. The SNP are the main hope of delivering another independence referendum, given their history, resources and political experience.

    I don’t buy the argument that the SNP could negotiate independence, if they held the balance of power at Westminster, after the general election. At the very best I can only see the SNP helping deliver Devo max, and I am not see that as much of a hope either. Maybe that is being pessimistic, but they would be looking for significant powers going to Scotland at the very least. I have difficulty picturing the British state giving up Scotland completely after the events of last year (and the entire referendum campaign). If independence is going to occur, then the most likely delivery is by means of a referendum.

    1. I think you are being pessimistic! The britnats have a problem; all current evidence shows they are in for a nightmare scenario post GE15. If they try to stitch things up by forming a Grand Colaition or National Government to shut the SNP out, it will cause outrage in Scotland, increase support for the SNP & independence, and hasten #indyref2 post HR16 elections. It will also sicken many south of the border in BOTH parties I imagine!

      If they don’t go down that path, the only feasible path is some form of compromise with the SNP. The price for this should be clear well beforehand, and given previous experience I’m confident the SNP are smarter than the LD’s were in May 2010. I think the cards are actually in our favour; the britnats are between a rock and a hard place.

      1. muttley79 says:

        Andy, I don’t believe that Tory backbenchers would accept a Tory-Labour government. They would be highly embarrassed, and would feel the formation of a coalition with Labour demeaning, if Scotland was the cause and main issue behind it! I think quite a number of Tory and Labour MPs would resign and join UKIP, probably causing a number of by elections. I reckon Tory backbenchers would seek to destabilise it, a la the Major government shambles. In all likelihood an alliance between the main two parties in England would prevent a referendum on the EU, I many Tories would go ballistic at that as well. They have their eyes set on a referendum on the EU.

    2. david steel says:

      I think that’s why there is more of an argument that SNP would get more out of a Devo-max deal with the Tories.

      You have to remember that with a large contingent of 40 or so MPs for the SNP then Scotland has spoken and rejected the Westminster parties policies and the Smith Commission proposals. It therefore is easy for Cameron to solve his English votes for English laws problem by pointing out that the Scots have endorsed devomax / full federalism. You cant keep the people behind bars forever as it were.
      He could actually claim he was saving the union as if proper Devomax was rejected again then it makes indyref2 inevitable as scots would be so pissed off.

      Cameron would also get an automatic majority in an “English Parliament” – whats not to like from his point of view (apart from losing oil revenues – but of course they are only a small proportion of UK economy and a curse anyway so we were told) .
      I can see no way that labour would agree to devomax as it would be cutting their own throats on a uk level and therefore I can see no deal being done.

      1. There is zero prospect of the SNP making a deal, formal or otherwise with the Tories. They have specifically said they wouldn’t, and neither their members or voters would stand for it. All the Tories can hope for is that they somehow manage to get a majority (which hardly looks likely!?), or that they can do a deal with Labour which would be electoral seppuku for Labour.

        EVEL is a cynical ploy by the Tories to try and get power in England, without actually delivering “proper” federalism for the UK as a whole +/or a way to delay and shackle devo-max for Scotland. It just won’t work. There is no appetite in most of England for devolution involving “federalising” the whole UK – the concept has no legs.

        If it is beyond the ken of the britnats to fashion an acceptable deal on devomax it simply makes independence happen more quickly. Good!

  11. Clootie says:


    I think you are underestimating the voters rejection of the LibDems in England. It is only because of the Part machine that I expect them to hold around 15 seats.
    Your read of Scottish Politics and the SNP I’m afraid demonstrates a lack of understanding of the change taking place North of the border.

  12. There has been no denial in the press that the so-called “Labour” party would NOT enter into a coalition with the Tories, and if you want to see what happens when you ask them, see my blog posting from earlier today: http://inthepublicsphere.wordpress.com/2015/01/06/will-there-be-a-labour-coalition-with-the-tories-after-the-general-election/ Not that this should necessarily be taken as being conclusive evidence, I should add! 🙂

  13. Ken MacColl says:

    Would be interesting to hear what John Murphy thinks of this?

  14. bjsalba says:

    Just exactly how did the Parliament come to be returned to us in the first place? We we didn’t hold the balance of power then, did we?

    If they did try a Lab/Con Govt of national Unity, what would the press do? Somehow I don’t see them going ga-ga over it.

    1. Peter A Bell says:

      A “government of national unity” would be a defensive move by the British state. As the mouthpiece of the British establishment, the British media will be dutifully supportive.

      1. Pentland Firth says:

        It would be “desperate” rather than “defensive”; the last ditch defence of a broken British political system. It could only be “sold” to a majority of Red and Blue Tory backbenchers if a national or international crisis was invented to justify it (sticking it to the SNP wouldn’t wash with opinion in England, never mind Scotland) , but I agree that the British media, including their branch offices in North Britain, would be fully supportive. Commentators in the Guardian and the Spectator have already written in support of the idea.

      2. MBC says:

        Exactly. It can be successfully sold to the British public. It was in the 1930s. TBH, it’s probably what the British mainstream actually wants, provided that it is a genuine via media, which shouldn’t be too difficult given that there’s hardly a whisker between Labour and Tories. It’s the kind of scenario that will require real canniness for either partner to get anything meaningful out of it.

        Meanwhile, that leaves the SNP in permanent and impotent opposition, and I wonder what they can do from that position?

        For some time I have been thinking that such a scenario calls for some kind of extra-parliamentary pressure such as a broad-based Yes movement in Scotland to give grist to our MPs mill.

      3. scav says:

        It would be a problematical defence of the union for the government at Westminster to be (to a first approximation) England and the opposition to be Scotland and Wales.

        That’s a bigger constitutional nightmare than a robust tail of SNP MPs wagging the unprincipled Labour dog on a few issues (such as Trident) where probably most traditional Labour voters would be secretly breathing a sigh of relief that their party was being pulled back from the far-right.

  15. StrandedKiwi says:

    The best outcome that the SNP/Greens/CP/…(LD)… could do for the rUK would be to force a change to proportional representation for Westminster (and local government) elections. This would facilitate a move to more government closer to the people.

    1. Bernicia says:

      Labour have manifesto for AV.

      1. JBS says:

        The Labour Party didn’t appear to be too sure about the merits of AV in 2011:

        “…Ed Miliband – who also backed AV, while many of his own party did not…”


    2. tony martin says:

      Basically, the problem is one of the politics of despair that is First past the post in the south. We should see this as a unique opportunity to transform british politics for ever. A large number of SNP mp’s together with other small parties including The Greens,and Plaid Cymru, could seize the time and demand a proper democratic proportional representation system (not AV) as part of any deal. Coupled with radical demands including the Living Wage and an end to austerity policies. It would show that the SNP is not just interested in Scottish issues.The prospect of Scotland being responsible for such irreversible progressive change in Britain fills me with optimistic excitement.

  16. david steel says:

    @ andy ellis, you think a deal is impossible with the Tories – all Salmond has to to do if Tories agree to full devo is abstain on all matters that is outwith foreign affairs and defence other than a federation bill. It isn’t supporting a tory government, its just not voting against them – theres a difference.

    Even if it is perceived as propping a tory govt – would it matter if we had secured a big goal of a fully federal uk? I don’t think that would bother the voters at home as 90% of UK tory govt policies wouldn’t affect us as they would be devolved or be in the process of being devolved.

    The other thing with letting a tory government get on with it is the euro referendum – which brings about indyref2 far far quicker if the vote is out.

    1. All things are possible of course…I just think it’s both vanishingly unlikely from a political perspective, and probably unnecessary from an electoral perspective. The problem with your scenario is that it DOES involve a modicum of agreement / cooperation with the Tories. I’m highly doubtful that’d fly with Scottish voters, and still less with SNP members. The issue would be the problem which effectively makes Home Rule in the context of the UK a fiction; the system simply couldn’t cope with an “English” parliament controlled by one party, and a federal “UK” parliament controlled by another party or coalition of parties – it just wouldn’t work! That circle has never really been squared in over 100 years – just look at the proposals to deal with > 80 Irish Nationalist MP’s prior to WW1, and how that would have panned out if Irish independence hadn’t intervened!

      Propping up a further Tory administration would have an impact on Scotland due to the continuation of austerity policies, which wouldn’t be mitigated by devomax because they would drag their feet on implementing it for long enough to ensure the Scottish block grant was cut.

      Also, if you honestly believe the Tories (or any other britnats for that matter!) are actually going to offer anything approaching full federalism with only defence & foreign affairs excluded, I have some magic beans you might be interested in….? 😉

  17. arthur thomson says:

    My ambitions for the outcome of the GE are much less than those of others above. I just hope the SNP will have a much larger number of MP’s and that the ongoing commitment of those who support Scottish self government will be greater than ever before. The fight must go on whatever happens.

  18. Bernicia says:

    ”but his subject analysis does not address the issue of how the UK presently props up the balance of payments deficit. This is done by converting wealth into assets – overwhelmingly property. These assets produce virtually no new wealth, serving merely to protect wealth already in existence and serving as an attractor for wealth from abroad. Scotland has the advantage of a balance of payments surplus (not including oil) and, as Jim Sillars pointed out in the referendum debates, this in itself attracts an inward flow of foreign funds. Indeed, no less a body than the IMF predicted that an independent Scottish currency would be more likely to face problems of over valuation rather than a fall in value.’

    The fact that Scotland had a balance of payments surplus with rUk was one of the reasons BT refused consider an entry into CU. Of course this was possible bluff as CU would have been the least worst option for both. But politically it would have been a very hard sell to England/ Wales for Scotland to maintain CU while also reducing the tax receipts leading to a devalue of Sterling. Also Scotland’s balance of payments surplus would soon be eroded if the value of a indy currency was over valued as the IMF predicted as it would have hit the main industry/ exports, whiskey, tourism, renewables, etc. When push comes to shove, you are right, the problem has been the high value of the pound since the 80 s for the financial service industry. The problem was always asymetry. Had rUK and Scotland been closer in size then it would have been tenable…but Scotland is not like Holland compared to germany/ Sweden/ Norway/ Denmark in the Euro, but more like Spain or Portugal/ Germany (just) swings and round abouts.

    1. Bernicia says:

      Ask yourself why would a maufacturer in England vote to maintain a currency union with a country that puts his business/ livelihood at a disadvantage? Similarly a seperate currency could have incured punitive tarriffs with rUK (as it would not yet be in the EU) limiting exports to rUk 70% trading partner. There would have been agressive competition between rUK and Scotland with regards to the respecitve weight of their balance of payments. And RUK wsa in the driving seat.

      1. Darien says:

        Scotland in fact buys far more from England than it sells back. Think supermarkets/retail and trucks heading north on M6. Scotland’s exports, while greater per capita than England’s, are constrained by the union – for a variety of ‘logistical’ and institutional reasons. So the union is bad news overall for Scotland’s trade. Scotland needs to focus much more on developing its international trade and freedom from union constraints and ‘ways of doing things’ will be necessary to achieve that.

  19. mapsalfordp says:

    As Bernadette McAlliskey pointed out: you should never help to govern something you can’t control.

  20. flit2013 says:

    Milliband would end up like MacDonald after the last government of ‘national unity’ if there is a grand coalition. Labour are so close to the Tories economically that the SNP would need be very wary of supporting any austerity budgets – after all YES was not about business as usual. Salmond is not party leader and it will end in tears if he subsumes that role de facto at WM without Nicola – the boss – and a much less combative and more conciliatory person – evidently being in charge. UKIP/Tory alliance is still the most obvious outcome, but SNP support for a minority Labour government would need to be on a confidence and supply basis only – Labour are toxic in Scotland and it could so easily backfire.

  21. kate says:

    There are ways SNP & allies could hold WM/Eng govt to ransom & still be very popular- ie. seek reversal of any privatization of NHS & also of railways,post,etc., argue for free education in rUK & other popular social democratic policies.

    Suggest banks need a plan to re pay their debt to the state to fund essential public services

    Seek to help Wales re its particularly bad NHS problems.

    Re Sinn Fein & DUP, together they have quite a lot of seats.

    What can SNP + perhaps help do to get them a better deal than their recent one with cameron, in which i gather NI assembly finally agreed to welfare austerity measures they were holding up, if they help further scottish & welsh interests?

  22. ebreah says:

    In all probability, SNP will be returned as the third largest party in Westminster. How the SNP will use this advantage depends on its objective in relation to its ultimate aim i.e. Scottish independence. If the SNP is going for short or mid term gains, it is probably prudent to participate whether in a coalition or supply-and-confidence agreement. Here the SNP can extract anything it wants from Westminster.

    I believe though we will be playing a long game with Westminster. We must never forget the ultimate aim is to gain independence. Perhaps it is better to be in Westminster and wreck havoc from within rather than fight outwith. Maybe the establishment will be so sick with the Scots and kick us out of the union. A constructive independence gained.

  23. Kenny says:

    In my mind, there is one simple solution to all these conundra….. independence.

  24. Craig P says:

    Scotland’s job, politically, has always been to send a bloc of similar MPs to Westminster. It is the only way Scotland has a chance of a voice in a parliament where they are outnumbered. Two hundred years ago, patronage meant it was a bloc that supported the ruling party. A hundred years ago it was to send a bloc supporting the union (with Ireland). In our time it is to send a bloc that will stand up for Scottish interests.

    Time will tell if we have reached a tipping point where the electorate decide that Labour are no longer the best vehicle for that aim and abandon them in droves.

  25. Gordon Adam says:

    I think you’re all counting your chickens before they’re hatched, remember what happened in September. While a massive swing to SNP overall is required to oust the incumbent Labour MPs and opinion polls appear to be showing just that, remember the polls pre-indyref, they; like the WM politicians, cannot be trusted. Instead of counting hypothetical SNP votes, get out there and make it happen.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      No chickens being counted

  26. gary says:

    Anyone that thinks there will be an SNP/Lab coalition really is quite deluded. The hatred that Labour harbors towards them is quite pathological and can only get worse when the votes are counted.
    I personally think that the outcome of the GE will be a Con/UKIP coalition this being a more favourable option to the right leaning south of England. Milliband has neither the following or vision, to counter this. A bit like Jim Murphy, take someone else’s idea and add a thousand nurses. They have no clear plans for the future, expect only mud flinging in their campaign.
    The only way I can see for the SNP to make any real difference is through swing votes and back room deals. This means that they’ll need to reconsider their stance on voting for English only policies. Which means that the push for EVEL will be stronger than ever. In hindsight, it would seem that the Tories have pulled another blinder on both the electorate and the labour party. I wonder who really pulls the strings.

  27. Charles Murphy (no relation) says:

    Every Scottish M P sent Westminster .. Must hold in his or her heart belief in full independnce . This is the goal , this is what 100000 SNP members want , this is what we joined for . I for one do not want devo anything , min , max or middle .
    If we are not electing them to go there and fight tooth and nail for independence ,…. Why are sending them ?
    Outside of the lofty halls of acedemia or the game playing political intellectuals voicing ever widening scenarios of how SNP may or not be able to manipulate or affect the outcomes of governance in a hung parliament , here , down at street level , we want to know that the goal is and will continue to be .. Independence for Scotland .
    Nothing more .. Nothing less ..

    1. Gordon Adam says:

      Hear, hear Charles, my sentiments exactly

      1. Darien says:

        Hear Hear.

        The SNP should stand on an independence mandate only for the UK General Election. They would be assured of votes from 45% of the electorate. With FPTP that is easily a Scots majority of 30+ seats, and gives a mandate for independence. So we have to ask why the SNP are not doing this. Some party apparatchiks seem to think it will scare the voters. Obviously it would not scare the 45%. It would probably have the opposite effect. It would galvanise Yes voters, and some No voters who now know they were diddled with the vow. Might even get over 50% of votes, not that its needed for FPTP.

  28. Sure Scot says:

    SNP leader has ruled out proposing a quick second referendum. Oops sorry Salmond is not the leader any more – or is he?
    Salmond is now saying the main objective for the GE vote is to push for home rule.
    Looks like even the SNP are having second thoughts about independence. Maybe something to do with the oil price now below $50 a barrel.

    There won’t be any SNP Labour coalition either.


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