Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The feeble 41?

Before the election, the SNP pointed out the fatal hole in Labour's argument that the only way to prevent a Tory government was to vote Labour - namely that if the Conservatives won a majority across the UK as a whole, the Labour majority in Scotland would indirectly legitimise Tory rule here by virtue of its commitment to the constitutional status quo. But little could anyone have realised that hosts of Labour figures, both north and south of the border, would be queueing up to legitimise Tory rule in circumstances where there was actually no parliamentary majority. John Reid and Tom Harris in particular seem hellbent on co-ordinating a bizarre Labour effort to smooth the way for the Tories to take office, by undermining (it seems successfully) the coalition negotiations at every turn. Even more extraordinarily, they are openly admitting that a key reason for doing so is their distaste for ceding even the most minor influence to nationalist parties in Wales and Scotland.

On Newsnight Scotland last night, Ken MacDonald raised the spectre of a 'feeble 41' Scottish Labour MPs who failed to prevent Tory rule in Scotland in a rather more direct way than the 'feeble 50' failed to do in 1987, and suggested that the SNP might benefit electorally from such a scenario. Of course, it's not quite so clear-cut as that, as many Labour MPs up to and including the Prime Minister seem to have entered into coalition discussions in good faith. But it remains the case that the SNP have been moving heaven and earth to assist a progressive Labour-led coalition to take office, while the likes of John Reid and Tom Harris have been eagerly acting as Dave's little helpers, on the pathetic grounds of a grudge against nationalist parties, and an unwillingness to budge an inch on reforming our antiquated voting system. If the worst happens and a Tory-led government takes office in the next few hours or days, I think we can safely say the ghost of 1979 has been well and truly laid to rest - the people of Scotland will know who the guilty men are.


  1. ...and it makes Gordon Brown's grand leaving gesture yesterday quite superfluous, indeed pathetic. Stabbed in the back by his own neanderthals.

  2. James, the biggest mistake the SNP made in this election was to bury the Independence message.

    Far from pointing out that a Labour vote meant a Tory vote when England voted Tory, the SNP got suckered into playing the Unionist game with a vague assertion that that they could stop Westminster cuts.

    Nobody really bought it.

    Time to get back to basics, highlighting the urgent need for Scotland to take back the reigns of her own destiny & explaining the consequences for the country if the electorate handed the country's future to others.

    At the very least we would now be in a position where our message was fully vindicated, but a strong, confident pro-independence message I am sure would have brought a better result than what we saw last week.

    And pushed independence centre stage.

  3. Ezio Auditore da Firenze - Working against Red Conservatism in Scotland!May 12, 2010 at 1:10 AM

    Are the Scottish Labour Party the Tartan Tories?

    The view here in Florence is that they are!

  4. Tom Harris yesterday morning said he would prefer to stick with the fptp system as it would benefit Labour in the longterm. that it can come back with a majority in later elections. also he said pr would weaken labour in its central belt heartlands.

    I too don't understand why the SNP doesn't push much harder on more devolution and fiscal autonomy/independence

  5. Anon - it's striking how similar Harris' philosophy of "no compromises, victory can wait a few years" is to that of a certain Mr Anthony Wedgwood Benn, circa 1979-83. Not the happiest precedent, and I dare say he still can't see the irony of the way he's sneered at 'unrealistic purists' who've undermined Labour's chances in the past.

  6. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/8676654.stm

    "However, it is thought the party still wants to scrap the Scotland Office."

    I hope thats true. Does that mean they want to transfer all the Scotland office's functions/powers to the Scottish Parliament? how long would that take? And what job would Alistair Carmichael now get?