Britain’s New Political Force Isn’t UKIP – It’s the SNP
“As I write this Douglas Carswell hasn’t yet been elected in Clacton but he will be. He will be UKIP’s second MP (Bob Spink was the first) but first elected MP. But Clacton is a special case; Carswell has a big personal following. I have no time for him whatever and I can only help he has the integrity his friends claim he does. If that is true, he will not remain silent in a party that is racist, sexist and allows the condoning of child abuse, blaming the victims. We’ll see.
The real UKIP test comes in Rochester and Strood, where my friend Mark Reckless defected without the same personal following. I will always like Mark, having known him since we were at the same Oxford college together at the same time (OK OK he’s younger) and ran together on the same slate in the Union (roofing materials cough). But I fear Mark has made the mistake of his life. He is an able barrister and he has been a leading light on the best Select Committee in Parliament at the moment, the Home Affairs Select Committee. But UKIP help Labour and prevent the chance of any EU Referendum at all. I am so sorry that Mark was deceived into going with Farage, and I both hope, fear and believe he will lose his seat. I hope it politically because Ed Miliband must not be helped into power by UKIP voters – there will be no EU referendum and it will be total disaster. I believe it because I can read the polls and the mood, I think (it’ll be close for sure), and I fear it, because ukip are a party without loyalty or principles. When Mark loses they will blame him, cast aspersions on his work as an MP, toss him to the wind and move on without looking back like they do to any candidate who gets in Nigel’s way.
But enough of Labour’s little helpers. Let’s look north, where I think the unnoticed revolution is going on. And it’s not purple – it’s plaid. In fact, it’s tartan. (Dear Louise, how Scottish is tartan?)
The Scottish Referendum seems like yesterday north of the border and for us in rUK too it was the election of the year. Few nights will ever be as emotional. And yet a London-centric media has taken its eye off the Glasweigan ball. That’s a mistake.
The SNP have packed on tens of thousands of new members – that’s actual paying members who have gone so far as to sign up – imagine the latent support behind these numbers. I read somewhere that it might be a hundred thousand. Labour is in trouble in its Scottish heartlands. Real trouble, not just Holyrood trouble where they are used to getting their arses kicked, but Westminster trouble. John Curtice said they might pick up as many as 26 seats. I think they may also lose one or two to the Tories and LibDems – yes, you heard me correctly. Passions for YES and NO raged immensely, and where the SNP hold Westminster seats in areas that were strongly NO they are vulnerable. Ruth Davidson took back some of her ‘Tartan Tory’ mantle from the so-called Tartan Tories. There’s a long way to go to detoxify the Conservatives in Scotland but she gained wide respect in the IndyRef.
But let’s develop the idea of the SNP storming the Westminster elections. Every seat they gain will be a one for one loss to Labour. Labour down 26 and the SNP up 26, for a max gain of 32 seats. That would give the SNP parity with the LibDems.
Semi-jokingly I suggested future SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon as Deputy PM under Cameron. There was a lot of kicking the football around on Twitter from SNP members, but let me develop the idea.
I am NOT suggesting that the SNP go into coalition with the Conservatives – it would be toxic for both parties north of the border. Ruth Davidson needs those Unionist votes to start rebuilding in SNP WM areas. And SNP are banned from propping up the Tories, their left-wing support wouldn’t like it.
But I AM suggesting a scenario where Sturgeon can demand a DEAL with an rUK Conservative majority – after all the Referendum itself happened because Alec Salmond and David Cameron made a binding deal. A deal isn’t a coalition and the SNP wouldn’t need to prop up the Tories in this scenario – because devo-max and English votes for English laws would have meant that the SNP was “mainly governing” Scotland via Holyrood, and in rUK, the Tories would no longer need any Scottish votes (or even be able to use them) – on devolved matters for Eng Wales and NI. Cameron would still need other parties like the DUP and probably even the LibDems for comfort, but Sturgeon’s SNP would not be involved.
Scenario goes like this – Tories largest party, no majority. SNP offer a deal whereby Sturgeon becomes Deputy PM as being able to command the second party of United Kingdom government, with or without a WM seat of her own. She need not have one, and she can always take a peerage if she likes, a nice Scottish peerage obviously 🙂. Sturgeon and Cameron horse-trade over devo-max and the financial settlement for Scotland in exchange for immediate, first-order-of-business “English votes for English laws” legislation. EVEL has been long planned by the Tories and has been in the last three Tory manifestos. This constitutional deal done, Sturgeon repairs to Scotland to govern. Ruth Davidson opposes her now on tax, spend and policy as well as Unionism (because we assume the SNP will still aim for full independence).
South of the border Cameron governs with a coalition but one where the Tories can set more favorable terms.
In defence and foreign affairs, areas that all agree would remain United Kingdom competencies, Sturgeon would have the right to be consulted first, to have SNP seats in the ministries and the SNP would have a direct voice at the global table, as the LibDems do now. I cannot frankly imagine that the SNP view would be more left-wing than the LibDem view on either area of policy. In this area, Cameron would have to seek to have Scotland on board respecting the SNP’s primacy in the country.
That, then, is my vision of a revolutionary government – not a coalition, no propping up needed – a government that represented a deal between independent actors, even political opponents, to make constitutional changes that the SNP and Conservatives both believe in for Scotland and also for England.
Labour is the enemy of the SNP when it comes to devo-max or any version of devo-max. The more autonomy Labour allows in Scotland, the greater the demand in England for English votes, which deprives Mili of his Scottish block vote. It says much for Labour’s weakness in England that Ed Miliband thinks he can’t govern England, Wales and Northern Ireland without the votes of Scots MPs on matters that will never affect their constituents. Put another way, Miliband doesn’t want to introduce laws for England he knows English voters will approve of.
Fair play to the 45, they have no objection to English voters getting our own devolution. The SNP don’t vote on English only laws unless it will affect Scotland – that’s to be decided in the initial horse-trading before EVEL passes. Sturgeon would be a conquering heroine in Scotland with the prestige of deputy PM of the UK and the delivery of the best possible deal for Scotland. Rather than ‘propping up’ Cameron or any coalition, she’d follow SNP creed of leaving the sassenachs to sort themselves out. And Labour’s offer to Scotland of tiny changes while chopping England up into already-rejected-in-a-referendum “regional assemblies” would get the contempt it deserved – north and south of the border.
WhoKip? The SNP is the real story this year – and they didn’t quit and go home when they lost that vote. Trust me, the 45 are just warming up.”
Ms Mensch may be many things, some day I really must find out what she really excels in, but political sage is definitely not one, but obviously political fantasist is.
Ms Mensch damns Nicola Sturgeon with faint praise, if she thinks Ms Sturgeon would fall in with Ms Mensch’s flights of fancy. Flights designed to put the party, Ms Mensch deserted in its hour of need, firmly back in Government for ever more.
Ms Mensch, where do you live now? I only ask, but I gather New York is in the Colonies is it not? Not in the rest of the UK or even the British Empire, despite you asserting that, “The Scottish Referendum seems like yesterday north of the border and for us in rUK …” I guess living high up in skyscrapers a lot of the time does funny things to the brain. Can you Louise, see the Home Counties from atop the Empire State Building? I assume, given your current state of lightheadedness, that you have missed a vital stage out of your scenario:
“A deal isn’t a coalition and the SNP wouldn’t need to prop up the Tories in this scenario – because devo-max and English votes for English laws would have meant that the SNP was “mainly governing” Scotland via Holyrood, and in rUK, the Tories would no longer need any Scottish votes (or even be able to use them) – on devolved matters for Eng Wales and NI. Cameron would still need other parties like the DUP and probably even the LibDems for comfort, but Sturgeon’s SNP would not be involved.”
Ms Mensch, the whole of the House of Commons has to vote in support of legislation in order to get “devo-max and English votes for English laws”. You are expecting Ms Sturgeon to take the word of a man whom she is about to put into Downing Street that he would follow through in full on these matters? A man who said the NHS is safe in my hands? A man who said, read my lips, there will be no top down reform of the NHS! A man who said, I feel your pain, for I too have claimed DLA … Have you never heard of once bitten by a rabid dog, next time bring a shot gun? And be honest Ms Mensch, in which order would Mr Cameron put the legislation? Devo-max first or English votes for English laws?
Ms Mensch avoids saying what even most people know her proposal means, “Vote SNP, Give Cameron the Keys to Number Ten!” Ms Mensch thinks that the SNP would be happy to engage in a re-run of 1979 and risk all in the process. Moreover, that the SNP would acquiesce in an arrangement that leaves Cameron in a position to call the next General Election at a time of his own choosing.
Nicola Sturgeon, a canny party leader if I ever saw one, will have a much better hand of cards in a card game with Labour than with the Tories. In addition, I cannot see her repeating the events of 1979 when the minority Labour Government was defeated in a vote of no confidence, thereby triggering a General Election. The SNP went into the lobbies with Mrs Thatcher, then went into the General Election with 11 MPs and came out the other side with only 2 MPs. The Tory Party remained in power for 18 years and devolution was off the agenda for the same period. I can well imagine Ms Sturgeon doing her utmost to avoid a similar outcome. An outcome that would hand the keys of Number 10 to David Cameron, damage the SNP’s future electoral chances in Scottish and Westminster elections and postpone any further chance of more devolution and/or another independence referendum.
I also fail to see why the SNP, however many seats it wins next May, would not support Labour at Westminster after next May, particularly given the plans the party had to develop the Environmental Business Sector in Scotland after Independence. Ms Mensch may not have noticed that her party has now decided to label all such sound policy as ‘green crap’. The only party that shares Cameron’s dismissive, reckless view is ukip. And Ms Mensch conveniently ignores the prospect of her fantasy including a handful of ukip MPs being joined at the hip to the Tory Party. One more reason for the SNP not to do what Ms Mensch thinks would be in her, sorry, their party’s best interests.
Ms Mensch is, of course, still a Tory after all, albeit one who now lives permanently in the USA and cannot spell centre properly, “Center Righty is US politics blogging from one socially liberal, fiscal conservative point of view”! Ms Mensch wants to see the fortunes of her party restored across the whole of the United Kingdom, including Scotland. There is no benefit for the SNP in that happening. I suspect Ms Sturgeon has three words for Ms Mensch, confidence and supply. Confidence and supply means no coalition and no supporting legislation to which the SNP is opposed, but it does mean stopping Cameron bringing down the Government whilst continuing to pay the salaries of public servants. Such an agreement would draw in the Greens and Plaid Cymru, giving all three parties some power without much in the way of responsibility. Who knows, may be Calamity Clegg, given the second chance of a C & S agreement (Whirling Shirley thought it a sound idea in September 2010) might do the right thing this time?
A minority Labour Government supported, but not unquestioningly, by the Greens, PC, SNP and possibly the Liberal Democrats may just be the re-alignment on the centre and centre left that UK politics needs. And, before I forget, as everyone else seems to do, the SDLP is not called the Social Democratic and Labour Party for nothing. The SDLP is Labour’s sister party in Northern Ireland hence that is why Labour does not campaign for seats there. The SDLP sits with Labour in Opposition and with Labour in Government, but it does not, however, offer its unquestioning support.
When it comes to Northern Ireland and her fantasy, Ms Mensch seems happy to revive the Troubles just to see her party in power. What concessions does she think the Unionist Parties would want for their support in her scenario? If anything proves that Ms Mensch has only a superficial understanding of political history then it is her idea that her party by seeking to relive its ‘glorious’, blood soaked Irish adventures would actually make the UK a more harmonious union. Why do the phrases, same old Tories (Irish outlaws) and divide and rule spring to mind?
One last thing, Ms Mensch, if you had been paying closer attention to the Yes Campaign’s arguments you would have noticed two things, they were not just about the SNP and that Labour does not need its block of Labour MPs to win a majority at Westminster. For the moment, that prospect is improving as, far from there being a Revolt on the Right in the UK, we now seem to be seeing a Re-alignment on the Right. Mr Farage is going to give us a PR style General Election, despite your party’s best efforts not to see PR used in General Elections. After all, was it not you, in your fantasy, who labelled ukip as “Labour’s little helpers”?
I would suggest to Ms Mensch that she spend more time at ground level before blogging further on topics that she only had a rather tenuous grasp of when she was a politics lite, A list Tory MP. However, I fear that I cannot soar to her heights in order to offer her my bon mots. I am left to reflect that once upon a time the citizens of New York used to tar and feather Tories, after the citizenry had gained their Independence, of course …
Daily Telegraph Commentator sees opportunity for Tory comeback in Scotland as part of fallout from Referendum vote
Northern Ireland 2010 Election Results
Prime Minister ‘wooing’ Democratic Unionists in case of hung parliament