2007 - 2021

Pacts, Deals and Non Deals

We’re just a few days into this tinselly General Election and how are we all doing? Are you feeling more Ho Ho Ho or the Grinch Stole Christmas? The media is playing catch-up with the new reality and seems to think its acceptable to have TV debates that exclude the third biggest party at Westminster.

That’s craziness – even for the self-styled “Family of Nations’.

To be fair – whilst its an insult to democracy – it’s a boost to poor Jo Swinson who hasn’t had the best of weeks suffering not one but two car crash interviews.

The Tories also haven’t had the best of weeks, what with Ross Thompson’s unfortunate retreat from a valiant effort to defend his Aberdeen South Constituency, and Francesca O’Brien’s “off the cuff” comments marking a bad start on the campaign trail.

O’Brien (a former commissioned officer with the RAF Air Cadets) had previously said that people on Channel 4’s dire Benefits Street show “needed putting down”.

There’s nothing like a bit of casual eugenics to throw a spoke in the campaign trail.

But everyone is vying for deals. It’s bewildering.

To round-up: the Brexit Party want a deal with the Tories, but the Tories don’t want this public (but probably will do this in private); the Liberals (sic) want Scottish Labour to stand aside (Narrator: this is not going to happen) “Willie Rennie said the party north of the Border had been left “humiliated” by UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and his recent comments regarding a second referendum on Scottish independence”; some SNP activists seem to think that the Scottish Green Party should just dissolve itself; former UKIP impresario David Coburn has asked people  NOT to vote for his nutsy Brexit Party, in East Belfast and North Down, Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald has urged supporters to instead back the SDLP, and finally (probably not) the SNP and Labour will deny a “nudge and a wink” deal about a Section 30 Order but probably have one in the bag.

Got it?

But back to Ross Thompson.

Finlay McFarlane, the SNP’s vice-convener of Out for Independence and founder of #ThisManToo has written in the Independent about his experiences and shines some light on the situation in the Independent:

“Anonymity is not a luxury for survivors but a right, and no alleged victim should feel the need to go public to ensure their allegations are taken seriously. With the alleged incident first being reported months ago, questions must be asked why the Conservative Party’s first priority wasn’t to conduct a thorough and immediate investigation with a clear timescale for its conclusion. If Sweeney had not gone public, Thomson’s constituents in Aberdeen may not have known about the allegation or the investigation before election day. I don’t think that’s right.

As a rape survivor, the immediate politicisation of Sweeney’s allegations by Thomson is also distressing. Using words like “smears” to describe these allegations sends out the wrong message, particularly given that sexual misconduct is a problem with no political affiliation, with alleged victims and perpetrators across the political spectrum.

It breaks my heart to have seen the Conservatives take a wrecking ball to the fragile house of cards being built by the men raising their voices in politics and beyond. This has every chance of casting those who might have been tentatively stepping into the light back into the darkness. Survivors deserve better.”

This is important and not to be trivialised by either making it a party political matter, or somehow falling into the trap that male rape doesn’t somehow warrant the same seriousness as female rape does.

As Rhiannon Spear puts it this is a failure of Westminster: “It is absolutely appalling that Paul Sweeney has had to identify himself as the complainer out of fear there would be no action taken against Ross Thompson. Westminster is completely incapable of dealing with allegations of any abuse of power, never mind sexual assault.”

Joking apart, most of the deals feel superficial and opportunist. Perhaps by definition that’s what they are?


Comments (10)

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  1. James Mills says:

    I am a tad surprised that Jo Swinson was complaining about the format of the TV debates as her Party was taking part in all of them i.e. the Tory Party . If one is in any doubt as to her affiliation one need only seek out her voting record at Westminster where she appeared to vote for Tory legislation more often than some who were actually IN the Conservative Party !
    Go , Jo !

  2. Jo says:


    This article just shows how useless the Parliamentary process is for this sort of matter. It’s disgraceful.

    1. Alasdair Macdonald says:

      And BBC Scotland continues to fail to cover this despite it being headline news in almost all the Scottish papers on Monday and there is the article you indicate in the Times.

      1. Jo says:

        Indeed Alasdair.

        I had a smile today on hearing about the Tories playing dirty tricks with a video of a Starmer interview. It made him look like he was stumped for an answer when, in reality, he’d answered the question.

        It was a stunt straight out of the BBC playbook. Nick Robinson and Laura Kuennsberg had both pulled similar stunts on Salmond and Corbyn respectively where existing footage was doctored.

        Maybe Auntie is giving CCHQ lessons in how to deliver fake news!

  3. Robert says:

    “some SNP activists seem to think that the Scottish Green Party should just dissolve itself”

    No doubt there are plenty who do, and more who think the Greens should give the SNP a free run in GE2019 in the cause of Indy. The Greens, on the other hand (rightly) point out that there are huge differences between them and the other parties on crucial issues like support for the fossil fuel industry and they rightly want to give people a chance to register that at the polls.

    But does that mean it’s strategically smart for Scottish Greens to stand candidates in all 59 seats? Including Perth & North Perthshire, Stirling and Lanark & Hamilton East — all Tory/SNP marginals with a majority (in 2017) of under 300 votes, which the Greens can have no realistic hope of winning ?

    I have a sneaking fondness for a habitable planet myself — I’ve spent most of this year campaigning with XR Scotland to try and influence ScotGov policy on the climate emergency. I’d really like it if the Scottish Greens won one or two seats this time round.

    But unlike the true party believers, I can see (1) that they have precious little chance, under our crappy FPTP voting system, of even doing that, and (2) that by contesting these marginals they are only making themselves look stubborn and selfish, and setting back their nationwide vote.

    On the other hand, a principled withdrawal in these, and possible another handful of seats (Edinburgh South West, Central Ayrshire, Argyll & Bute, all SNP/Tory marginals with 2017 majority <1500 votes) could not only help a wee bit to avoid the horrifying spectre of a Tory government, it could also make the Greens look smart, magnanimous and responsive, like true leaders.

    Maybe I'm getting a bit obsessed here, but I did a Twitter poll (https://twitter.com/AbrazoHouse/status/1190311484406091778) and only 9% of 932 respondents so far think the Greens are doing the right thing by standing in marginals. But perhaps it was only SNP supporters who responded…

    (Yes, I am geeky. I downloaded the 2017 voting data from BritainElects.)

    1. MBC says:

      Ruth Davidson was only elected to Edinburgh Central because the Greens stood their candidate and it split the indy vote. Otherwise Davidson would never have stood a chance. OK, they had to try. But the idea that they could let Tories in during this very important election just doesn’t bear thinking about.

      1. Robert says:

        Right enough. But try telling that to Patrick Harvie…

        1. MBC says:

          He may have a point. I think Green voters and SNP voters are different groups, there is little danger of votes being ‘stolen’ from the SNP, but all the same, what is the overall objective? To get Boris out of Downing Street. The Greens stand no chance of getting an MP elected in Scotland on a FPTP basis. They are wasting their anti-Tory votes that would be better off being used to support whichever candidate is most likely to defeat the Tories.

    2. Chris Ballance says:

      If the SNP had any commitment to maximise the number of pro-indy politicians elected, they would abandon their “both votes SNP everywhere” Holyrood strategy.
      Political parties are formed to stand in elections. Being bigger doesn’t give you the right to bully smaller parties off the field. Ruth Davidson was elected because too many people voted Labour rather than SNP, too many people voted LibDem not SNP, too many people voted for Ruth Davidson. Don’t blame the Greens for exercising their right to stand in the election – blame the SNP for not fighting a good enough campaign.

      It is simply wrong to think that all Green voters would vote SNP if there was no Green. If, for you, the most important issue at the moment is climate change and the mass extinction of species that we are witnessing – would you really vote SNP? Some might, many wouldn’t.

      1. Robert says:

        Maybe some Green voters would vote SNP and some wouldn’t, but almost none would vote Tory. The SNP’s policies are just way closer to the Greens’. It’s not about what the SNP might or might not do in return — probably they won’t do anything — it’s about principled and strategic action by the Greens that might avoid a disastrous Tory government.

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