In a couple of posts a few weeks ago, I explained my theory that a reconstituted Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition was an unlikely outcome after next May's election. However, Professor John Curtice's views clearly need to be taken seriously, and in his appearance on the BBC's Politics Scotland this afternoon, he seemed fairly convinced that both Iain Gray and Tavish Scott were inching towards that outcome (assuming the arithmetic allows them to, which of course remains a very big if). Certainly there can be little doubt from Tavish Scott's increasingly hysterical Nat-bashing rhetoric of late that he at least is positioning his party for the possibility of coalition with Labour. But I still struggle to see how all this stacks up from Labour's point of view. Yes, I can see Curtice's point that they will not want to be hobbled by the limitations of minority rule as the SNP have been. But there's surely another consideration that easily trumps that concern. The very life-blood of any new Labour administration will be in portraying itself as Scotland's protector against the Tory-led UK government. How can they do so if they effectively relinquish their licence to demonise that government's man in Scotland, ie. the Lib Dem Secretary of State for Scotland? Even more general attacks on the UK government would have to be somewhat nuanced if they weren't to risk breaking an alliance with the Lib Dems apart.
My guess is that the Lib Dems' best (and perhaps only) hope for a stable partnership with Labour in Scotland is, ironically, that Hamish Macdonell in the Caledonian Mercury turns out to be right, and that their Westminster coalition with the Tories is already doomed.