.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Saturday, July 02, 2022

Striking a deal with the SNP

In a negotiation, never commit yourself to a position publicly, it only weakens your hand. 

Now, I don't know whether Keir Starmer thinks he has what it takes to secure an overall majority at the next election, but a combination of inadequate polling leads, uninspiring leadership and unfavourable boundary changes makes the odds against him doing so pretty steep. 

The Labour leader may well have to work with other parties, either formally or on a confidence and supply basis. That means he will need the third largest block of MPs in the Commons - the SNP.

That Starmer now feels it necessary to distance himself from Nicola Sturgeon's party, effectively ruling out, once and for all, any sort of arrangement, does not strengthen his hand, it weakens it considerably. It is perhaps, a gamble too far. It also seems to be an rather extreme position for a risk-adverse party leader, like Starmer, to take.

The Guardian reports that the Labour leader has made it explicit that his party would go into minority government rather than enter talks with nationalists, in a new effort to spike Conservative attacks on a “coalition of chaos”. He believes that such a position would effectively dare the SNP to vote down a Labour Queen’s speech and bear responsibility for bringing down a Labour prime minister and enabling another Tory administration.

Personally, I wouldn't be at all surprised if the SNP voted down, or at least abstained on a Queen's Speech that does not include an independence referendum. I also think they would get away with such a move in Scotland as well, leaving Starmer high and dry, and back in opposition.

He is taking this hard line of course, partly to mollify the Scottish branch of Labour, who have preferred to put Tories into positions of power on local councils rather than give succour to the SNP, and partly to avoid losing support in England over a possible alliance that would see Scotland leave the UK. It is a defensive position, that is not likely to win a single extra vote anywhere.

Would Starmer not be better developing policy positions and a vision that might attract voters instead?

If the SNP voted down a Labour government's Queen's Speech, allowing the Tories back in, it would just show them to be Tartan Tories. I suspect that Ed Davey and Keir Starmer already have an understanding about what they will do in the event of a Parliament where Labour is the largest party but is short of an overall majority, but are wisely keeping it under wraps as Tony Blair and Paddy Ashdown did. I expect that when the Labour and Liberal Democrat manifestos are published before the next GE, they will be seen to overlap in a number of areas, allowing the two parties to prioritise these without the need for a formal coalition.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?