Scottish Lib Dems should avoid Green/SNP coalition

I wrote yesterday on lessons to be learned by the Lib Dems. In particular, I stressed the need not to assume it is incumbent on Lib Dems to share in power when ever the chance is there, be this in a national assembly or in the council chamber.So I hope the Lib Dems in Scotland will keep an arms length distance from the SNP/Green coalition and Labour.

The Lib Dems need to reflect, lick their wounds and look for a way forward. The SNP's nationalist views will not resonate well with English voters if the Lib Dems were to fall in with the SNP. Similarly, Labour have been rejected bythe electorate in Scotland and it is not the job of the Lib Dems to sustain a party in power that has been sent such a clear message from the electorate.

As for coalition of any sort with the Greens, this surely cannot be considered. Whilst the Green's views on Europe are clearly at odds with Lib Dem policy, they are far from being liberal, having more of an eco fascist state dominated view of imposing change rather than encouraging it and incentivising it.

So, for more, it has to be opposition. I hope the Scots Lib Dems do the right thing for the party and for Scotland,


Anonymous said...

Greens are 'eco-fascists'?

Well, thats libellous!

Trevor said...

Whilst I do not disagree with the essence of what you say I think you overlook the fact that we need to try and make devolution work both in the interests of the party and Scotland. Given that the Tories have already ruled out any coalition with anyone we should at least give backing sufficient for the SNP to form a minority Government (ie voting for Alex Salmond as First Minister). This may be viewed in England as falling in with the Nationalists but then my understanding was that a similar proportion of the electorate in England support the break up of the UK. In some ways I feel we would be better to have a referendum and put the issue to bed once and for all but no doubt that is too big a change of policy to come about at this stage.

Tom Papworth said...

I don't agree that the Scots sent Labour quite as clear a message as you make out. With only one seat less than the SNP, I think Labour have almost as much of a claim to form a government as the nationalists.

However, I totally agree that the Lib Dems should have no truck with either of them. Without us, neither party can form a government (unless Labour and the SNP team up, which is pretty unlikely).

Let the SNP form a minority governenment if they wish. It will be an opportunity to expose them for what they are - though there is a risk they will blame all their failures on not having enough power.

Justin Hinchcliffe said...

I agree, but I suspect your good advice will be ignored. Why isn't anyone talking about a Con/SNP coalition?

Anonymous said...

I read with interest your comments. I was a member of our Scottish Executive negotiating team in 2003 but will not be involved this time.

Having taken soundings from fellow Scottish Party members in the past few days, opinions are not unanimous, but there is trepidation about throwing our lot in with the Greens and SNP for the reasons you have identified, and for others too.

In particular, there is absolutely no margin for error in parliamentary votes for a three-party coalition which amounts to 65 seats and where the opposition parties and independents have 64 seats.

Which of the 129 MSPs is elected Presiding Officer is also a crucial factor. The Presiding Officer, by convention, gives up his or her political allegiance. In such a tight situation, neither the potential coalition parties nor the opposition parties may want to nominate one of their own as Presiding Officer. The sole independent MSP, Margo Macdonald, has already ruled herself out of the running.

I have to say, though, that the knock-on effects on UK/English politics are not likely to feature heavily in the consideration. If they did, how could we realistically regard and portray ourselves as a federal party?

I agree that there is no obligation on us to join a coalition where it is not in the interests of the public, the parliament or the party to do so. In particular, any attempt to convince the public (as SNP spokespeople may try to do) that we are obliged to vote through their policy of a referendum on independence must be robustly countered. It's not our policy, and the SNP don't have a majority, they are only the largest minority, and are only that by a single seat.

If there is to be a deal of this kind, this cannot include any referendum which contains a question on independence, even if it also contains our preferred option of greater powers for the parliament, or the wider party will reject it. However, if the SNP agree to no referendum at all, or to a referendum without the independence option, then I don't agree that there will be the backlash in England that you predict. This issue will be the litmus test of whether the SNP really want to become a responsible, governing nationalist party at sub-state level (as in Cataluna and other nations within larger states across Europe) or whether they will insist on an independence referendum, which would not go through in a completely open vote in the Scottish Parliament anyway.

I am not confident that any of this will transpire, but if it does then it should not be viewed as dangerous or damaging to the Liberal Democrats across the UK.

Being in government adds significantly to our credibility and to implementing our agenda - hundreds of decisions are made by Ministers and never voted on in Parliament or even scrutinised by a committee. Our record of success in abolishing tuition fees, in getting free personal care, free eye tests and dental checks, and PR for local government would not have been possible in opposition. Yes, we had losses on Thursday and Friday, and often deeply disappointing ones. But we have an obligation to take decisions in the interests of the country, and I am hopeful that is what our leaders shall do.

Maltheus said...

Is on the BBC website. They won't form government with the SNP.

Joe Otten said...

Eco-fascist is harsh. Eco-communist is nearer the mark.

I think we need to dispel the impression that just because we are less disagreeable than the other parties, it is our job to prop up whoever gets the plurality. Why on earth shouldn't Labour or the Tories do this sometimes?

The SNP seem to be claiming that their plurality gives them the right to hold this referendum. Well it doesn't and until they've been disabused of that they are not going to get far.