2007 - 2022

The Magic Numbers


By Mike Small

  1. That’s the magic number required to run a government. The palpable hysteria has turned into raw panic as the Tory party and their outriders in the ‘non dom or tax exile-owned Mail, Express, Telegraph and Murdoch media group’ sense imminent failure to reach it. Electoral failure means losing the power of privilege and protecting the common interests of the super-wealthy.

Robin Birley – a UKIP funder and ‘society night club owner’ has urged Kippers to vote Conservative to “stop Britain being left with a government formed by a hard left rabble of parties”. Such is the shift to the right that even mild-mannered Ed and common sense Nicola are seen by these people as the Spartacus League.

But if the numbers don’t add up tomorrow the Tories have a fall-back position: undermine a Labour government with this new ‘legitimacy’ trope, simultaneously stoking anti-Scottish fervor and framing Labour as ‘unconstitutional’. As Seamus Milne has written: “Miliband hasn’t made it any easier for himself by giving credence to the insidious claim that any deals with the SNP – likely to be the third largest party – would be beyond the political pale.”

This is all nonsense.

As David Marquand points out in the Guardian (‘Britain hasn’t just survived minority governments – it has thrived under them‘)

, not only has their been several examples of working minority governments over the years, several of them have had impact and don’t succumb to the caricature of being weak wobbly and useless. He notes:

The notion that it would be illegitimate for a minority Labour government to depend on the SNP to hold office is simply wrong. The minority Asquith governments depended on the Irish Home Rule party to stay in office for four productive years; though outraged Unionists insisted that it was illegitimate, they proceeded on their way, in accordance with the parliamentary arithmetic.
Arcane and usually self-interested talk of legitimacy is, in fact, beside the point. The UK is a parliamentary democracy, not a plebiscitary one; the prime minister has to command a majority in the House of Commons. Provided he or she can do so, party vote shares in the preceding election are irrelevant.

Cameron is attempting to squat No 10 with this constitutional lie. He mustn’t be allowed to get away with it. Marquand continues:

If the Scottish people wish to elect SNP members of parliament, that is their right. And once elected, Scottish nationalist MPs are entitled to play as full a part in the work of the House of Commons as all other MPs. To say that, because their ultimate aim is an independent Scotland, their votes should not count in determining which party should form a government is to say that Scotland is not fully part of the UK. It is hard to think of a better way to convince the Scots that they would be better off outside the union.

But this is Cameron’s plan. The Telegraph reports that last night Cameron insisted that he would have a democratic mandate even if he wins the election with no MPs north of the border. That will be difficult to sustain, and in this sub-Panda scenario they would have to wheel out a Tory grandee, or Lord to be Secretary of State in a country where they will have been comprehensively rejected.

There’s all to play for and the stakes are very high indeed.

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  1. Jockeasy says:

    OK…it could be that it’s only from TOMORROW that the REAL struggle for Scotland’s future.
    The worry is that, if tory propaganda succeeds for the moment, it might just be that the direction of travel will go where no one wishes.
    Itsa big 24 hrs coming up.

  2. Fiona says:

    I don’t believe any of this hype. The system is clear and most of the people in the United Kingdom understand well enough how it works. If Cameron tries to “squat” it will do his party irreparable harm.

    It is fine for him to hold off resigning while he tries to form a workable majority through coalition or whatever. If he cannot do that he will resign. There is no doubt in my mind about that. This is all media driven, IMO. And as the polls in Scotland show, the media are not as powerful as they like to think.

    People are not as daft as this narrative assumes, either. Not here, not in England, not in Wales, not in Northern Ireland.

    Maybe they will think about a change in the voting system for the future. But that is as good as it gets for this hysterical nonsense.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      I hope your right Fiona but the noises being made from across the Tory high command are consistent

      1. Fiona says:

        I trust the people more than I trust the Tory high command. It is probably true that there are some nutters there who believe their own hype, but the Tory party has been very successful historically and that is not because they go about making utterly untenable decisions of this sort.

        The very fact this is being called a “coup” even in msm reports is telling.

  3. Robert Graham says:

    the muppet milibrand did not only shoot himself in both feet for good measure he added a head shot a bloody near impossible feat as he managed to do all three at once he must have been advised by murphy look how good he is doing haven’t this lot learned anything from last september i guess not , well lets hope “another one bites the dust” is played 59 times well into the early morning

    1. I was reminded of something Murphy said last year, along the lines of him being surprised at how easy it was to outwit the SNP, and he hoped to be stealing some seats off the Lib dems in GE 15. How is that working out, Fundilymundily?

      With arrogance like that, there is no question he has been advising Miliband on his strategy, to treat SNP like pariahs. Miliband could have boxed clever, and kept making vague noises about the outcome, thereby potentially bringing some disaffected Labour back, a long shot maybe, but a safer position than the one he has adopted.

      I genuinely feel Labour should reap what they have sown, began many years ago, but the referendum, and their conduct, being the tin lid.

      On the question of a Tory squat, nothing would surprise me. They get away with so much criminality in broad daylight, why the hell not push the envelope?

      1. One Baw Shaw says:

        Or, some feedback has come to light that the SNP ‘wipeout’ could not be as complete as the polls are suggesting, and (in the circumstances) treating the SNP like pariahs still has some – the only – capital that Milibean can play for.

        Postal votes will already have been received and counted, for example. Things get out.

        I could be completely wrong, but lets just wait and see just how many seats the SNP win.

        Voters often have two personalities. One is the person they want to be, or that the zeitgeist might tell them they should be. And the other is the person they really are. the latter one has a habit of coming to the fore when the ballot paper is in front of them.

        1. gerry parker says:

          “Postal votes will already have been received and counted, for example. Things get out. ”

          Only the total received, not the party split at this stage, that happens at the count tonight.

  4. ScottieDog says:

    Labour and tory (no matter what labour proclaim) differ only really in semantics. Fundillymundily, their core policies are basically the same. We might therefore see a minority govt with the confidence and supply, on the cornerstone policies anyway, coming from the other side of the house rather than the minority parties.

  5. One Baw Shaw says:

    “Electoral failure means losing the power of privilege and protecting the common interests of the super-wealthy”.

    Why do you think that a change of Government (to a Labour / Labour + one) will have any substantial effect on privilege and the interests of the ‘super-wealthy’?

    You don’t think that an Independent Scotland with its own Government (not a devolved administration) would have any substantial effect on this in Scotland, or outside it?

    In a globalised world?

    What a naive chap you are, Mike Small.

    “A hard left rabble of parties … Such is the shift to the right that even mild mannered Ed and common sense Nicola are seen by these people as the Spartacus League”.

    Ed is (another) populist leftist with a bit of a messiah complex (we might get to see if it’s worse than Blair’s, probably not). I actually imagine that he isn’t a ‘bad’ person; though he is deeply misguided.

    Nicola is also a populist leftist, and doesn’t have a messiah complex, just craves power, and revenge for some imagined slights from her youth. She’s just better at being a populist leftist and a politician than Ed is.

    “As Seamus Milne has written”

    Seamus Milne is a communist, so no-one sensible or who matters gives a f*ck about what he’s written.

    “In the Guardian”.

    Hang on – isn’t the Guardian another demonic head on the hydra of the biased evil english mainstream media?

    “To say that, because their ultimate aim is an independent Scotland, their votes should not count in determining which party should form a government is to say that Scotland is not fully part of the UK. It is hard to think of a better way to convince the Scots that they would be better off outside the union”.

    While constitutionally it may be irrelevant, I back this 100%.

    If a majority of Scottish voters (+50%) return a majority of SNP MPs, then the legitimate democratic will of the Scottish people is clear. They are voting for the party who’s purpose is to secure independence for Scotland, and separate it from the UK.

    The will of the Scottish people is settled.

    I expect – nay insist, that the Scottish SNP Government make a unilateral declaration of independence on May 8th.

    What’s stopping you?

    Get the f*ck out.

    1. Kenny says:

      Didn’t the referendum settle that matter for a generation? 😀

  6. macart763 says:

    Do you remember Mike when Alex Salmond said that there were a number of routes to independence? 🙂

    Mr Cameron, should he follow this cunning plan, will be opening a constitutional can of worms and all the SNP need do? Well all they need do is vote their conscience and their manifesto. Mr Cameron and the Westminster establishment will do the rest.

  7. One Baw Shaw says:

    Oooft, as you say up there:


    Conservatives: 316
    Labour: 239
    Lib Dem: 10
    SNP 58
    Plaid Cymru: 4
    UKIP: 2
    Green: 2

    BBC exit poll in 2010 was pretty accurate.

    I don’t think the numbers will wrap up like this, but as an indicator that is staggeringly different from what was expected.

    Green and UKIP numbers won’t turn out, probably one each.

    Will be surprised if Plaid gain a seat.

    I think (hope!) that the Lib Dems will have a few more than ten and get into the mid teens at least.

    But you could send your 58 to Westminster if you like – where we can then watch them ranting, screaming and in Mhairi Black’s case swinging from the rafters – impotently – from the sidelines.

    Let’s wait and see though.

    1. douglas clark says:

      If that is right, and i think it could be, the cat is amongst the canaries.

      At last!

    2. ScottieDog says:

      I see you have your boxing glove on the pulse.

    1. One Baw Shaw says:

      “Game On”

      What game?

      The Conservatives are going to have a majority.

      The only game the SNP MPs will be playing is playing with themselves. Maybe alternating with ranting, impotently from the sidelines.

      SNP now have a 50% share of the vote and obviously the vast majority of seats

      So, will you leave now please?

      All that’s required is a unilateral declaration of independence.


      1. JBS says:

        You have served a purpose, Corporatist Hell. Thank you for your many jejune contributions.

  8. deewal says:

    56 wipe out. Can we close BBC Scotland down now ?
    STV covererage was pretty good. BBC labour are moaning like *uck.

  9. Neil says:

    After all the navel-gazing, I guess the most accurate thing said was ‘vote SNP, get the Tories’.

    Dreadful results for the Scottish Greens, and Colin Fox got 197 votes – sadly, it looks like socialism is dead in Scotland – he could have been beaten by the National Front if they stood in his seat.

  10. HerewardAwake! says:

    So congratulations to the SNP on a stunning victory. Control in Scotland, yes, seats at Westminster, yes, but power and influence there? I don’t think so. Westminster will ignore them and roll on as it always has. Down south the food banks will multiply, austerity will continue and the rich will prosper and Scotland will be independent before the next general election, for better or worse.

    1. One Baw Shaw says:

      Can’t you just leave now?

      50% of the vote and a majority of seats.

      Can’t you just make a unilateral declaration of independence?

      1. One Baw Shaw says:

        And then you can have your own austerity – austerity max.

  11. MBC says:

    Cameron has won in England and Wales but he has lost Britain. He has no legitimacy whatsoever in Scotland. And if he attempts to impose austerity on us on the scale he has proposed, then it’s curtains for the UK as a political entity. Cameron is a destabilising figure. We will not stand for more Tory austerity in Scotland. Our money is our own.

    1. HerewardAwake! says:

      You’re right, MBC, your money is, indeed, your own. But on the basis that most European countries face stiff monetary challenges, has Scotland really got enough of it? That’s for you to sort out, of course, but in the meantime back to reality. Cameron has his majority (confound it!) and but has already tendered his own resignation as well as committing himself or successor to a fixed five-year term and an EU referendum by 2017, while from day one having to deal with that big bloc of feisty SNP MPs and all those die-hard Euro-sceptic Tory trouble-makers. PMQs are certainly going to be a real cock-fight in future. Its lucky the Commons are two swords-lengths apart! Is Cameron up for all this? I don’t think so. Interesting to speculate on what the the first crisis will be and how the Tory government will react to it. And as regards austerity, the English have voted for it and must therefore continue to endure it. They had their chance to ease their burden and failed to take it.

  12. MBC says:

    Will the Tories be idiotic enough to push Scotland too far? They may have won the election but they could lose the union.

    Morally, they have already lost the Union.

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