Sunday, 8 March 2009

SNP in Coalition? Brave New World Required

I see that Jeff is yet again displaying his love for the Lib Dems on his sleeve by referring to Jason Allardyce from today's Sunday Times.

Of course Jeff focused on the comments that were nice to the SNP and somehow missed out this:

"Many of us would be happy if we could deal with the SNP. Labour is now so contaminated that a deal with them looks impossible."

It is the contamination of the Labour Party that is the key. Back in 1999 there was a sense that Labour could move things forward and in 2003 with them weakened and the Lib Dems position strengthened we were able to get more policy across than four years earlier. However, the Labour party may have been the ones to bring in devolution to the UK Scotland and to a lesser extent Wales and Northern Ireland but they have since stalled in their commitment to that end.

There is room for a stronger Scottish Parliament and next weekends Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference will be discussing some key policies to make that so. So while Jeff, like Jason Allardyce, points out the current opinion polls, I'm looking to the future and the policies that the Lib Dems are discussing. Those from Harrogate and for Perth next week fill me with hope that we won't get splattered in the polls either at the next General Election of Scottish.

Nick Clegg said in his conference speech earlier today:

"So when, in the coming months, we offer people practical help. It will not just be sticking plaster solutions - it will be part of a new, better approach. That's what makes us different from the others.

"All parties make promises. You'll get a policy from each about job security; about repossessions; about help with bills. The real question is will they be policies to patch up the old order, or policies to build a new one?

"You know where the Liberal Democrats will stand. We will not promise just to rebuild what we had before. We will promise to build it anew, and build it better."

That is a bold new message. At a time when Labour and the Conservatives are unable to think outside the box, either because of the restraints of the unions or business, or because they are limited in what they can comprehend. The Nats also have shied away from boldness but only because they want to do it one way and seem incapable of seeking the aid of others constructively.

With our economy in ruins, our politicians at a new low (if that were possible), now is the time to make bold steps to restore confidence, in our banks, in our economy, in our politicians.

As Nick went on to say the current state that we find ourselves in "opens the door to a genuinely new way of doing things." He concluding by summing up the hotch potch of fixes from left and right saying:

"You have everything to gain because we will do things differently. A never-ending cycle of red-blue, blue-red government has got us into this mess - it is never going to get us out. Try something new.

"Now is the time to think big. If you want better, choose different. Choose the Liberal Democrats."

So with the failing of the old guard with the old style there is room for a major rethink. If it ain't broke don't fix it, but if it is? Now is the time for boldness. Labour have lacked it, the Tories have nothing to add, the Nats speak in boldness yet fail to act.

Now all we have to do is get the message across


  1. Stephen I was about to blog on Jeff's take on this but you've done it for me, thanks.

    Tavish isn't a popular leader because of his 'gordon' mentality as my libdem pals call it. It's explained as a dithering or thoughtless attitude by them.

    I wouldn't like to see the SNP in government with the SNP because I don't trust them for one and they are opportunists. So many of their Scottish supporters now vote SNP for these very reasons.

    No, as Jeff quoted from the un-named person close to Tavish Scott, Menzies Campbell called the tune when he forbade them to join with the SNP in May 2007. Libdem supporters were upset by that and moved towards, if not for, the SNP and it will take quite a few years more before they forgive Campbell for allowing his hatred of the SNP to try to influence Scottish politics.

    Thankfully the SNP have done a sterling job as a minority government and in 2010 (given that postal votes are supervised and checked independently, but that's another debate), they will have a majority.

  2. With polls peaking at 12% will there be enough Lib Dems to form a Coalition?

    Stephen, it would be useful if you could report back on the discussion at the Lib Dem Conference on the further powers motion and specifically how the Lib Dems see themselves achieving a consent from the Scottish people on this.

    By saying no to a multi-option referendum, Tavish is effectively putting the decision into the long grass. There isn't a cat in hells chance that Labour will back the wide range of powers that he's flagged up.

  3. SubRosa I assume you mean you wouldn't want to see the SNP in Governemnt with the Lib Dems rather than themselves.

    I agree that Lib Dem supporters were upset that even the thought of talks were ruled out in 2007 but I don't think that has moved them towards as you say the SNP. I think we did spend about a year in Scotland without a clear narrative. That is being rectified in a strong way.

    You have no worries War Dog I will be blogging and tweeting in depth from Perth next weekend.

  4. Stephen,

    Given that since May 2007 the SNP share of the vote has gone up and the Lib Dem share of the vote has gone down, it is reasonable to conclude that people are switching from Lib Dem to SNP, despite your claims to the contrary.

    And, given the timing, it is also reasonable to conclude that your reluctance to have coalition talks with the SNP played a part in that.

    PS Not sure what you're getting at regarding the 'missing paragraph'. It's not negative to the SNP and I probably just judged it irrelevant to the post. Fair enough if you see it differently but it's a bit naff to suggest I was being sneaky with what I cut and pasted.

  5. To be fair Jeff while I did start with your post I go on a wild tangent from that starting point.

    Rereading it, maybe I was a little unfair to you in the final copy. But the missing paragraph did include the Labour comment. I also know that most of the Scottish sample for such opinion polls always fail to include much outside the central belt and therefore are rather poor judges on Scottish opinion (it's a regional thing)

  6. No worries.

    Not heard that one before about polling companies. I would (just about) grant you the election coverage complaint, that Lib Dems only get a fair crack of the whip leading up to an election, but I am sure YouGov of all companies would factor in regional differences.

    But hey ho, we both know there's only one poll that counts anyway ;)