Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls, has well and truly slipped from shadow of Gordon Brown, his political mentor and protector. Not content with slapping down Scottish Labour Leader, Jim Murphy, over future public service cuts in Scotland by a Labour-led Westminster Government in the way that Gordon Brown used to put down various Scottish Labour predecessors like Jack McConnell, Wendy Alexander and Iain Gray, the rhetoric of saving the Union continues with Mr Balls.
In response to suggestions that Labour and SNP will strike a deal after 7 May, Mr Balls told the Wolverhampton Express:
“I’m not going to do it and Labour won’t do it. We’ve been very clear we won’t have a coalition with the SNP and the reason is that the SNP – they can’t stand up for the interests of people in England because they want to break up the UK.”
Not sure what that says to Labour voters in Wales and respectively SDLP supporters in Northern Ireland.
Well most Scots clearly believe that Labour will not stand up for the Scots in a UK context, so do we have a stand off more than a stand up for each nation? Time to get the crystal balls out.
As things stand, my realist ballpark projection is as follows: Labour 290, Tories 260, SNP & Plaid Cymru 50, Lib Dems 30, Unionists 10, SDLP 3, Sinn Fein 5, UKIP 1, Green 1. This could result in a Labour/Lib Dem coalition which, although it does not have an overall majority, would likely get by as a formal minority government on two provisos: Sinn Fein don’t ever take their seats so the de facto majority required is 322; and it is unlikely that the SNP will vote to bring down such a government for fear of reliving 1979 accusations of letting in the Tories.
Although I say I’m a realist I’m probably of the pessimist-leaning variety. I would like to see a situation where the SNP play a more active role in determining in Westminster budgets and legislation but I won’t under-estimate the visceral hatred by all the UK parties towards dealing with the SNP over anything. Of course, for Labour and Lib Dems to cut what will frankly become the dominant Scottish representation in Westminster for the next generation will effectively accelerate the terminal decline of the Labour Party in Scotland. Consequently, will this be enough to push Scottish Labour over the edge and into the independence camp? Not in the immediate future.
But with a wider labour and social movement in Scotland that really doesn’t fear independence other than potential loss of UK career ladders, independence is becoming the viable option.
As more of the left see and like what a Nicola Sturgeon-led Scottish Government aims to achieve, it is light years away from what UK Labour has been able to offer for decades.
And irrespective of what influence an SNP bloc has in Westminster, it will mean a large number of Labour out-of-work politicians seeking a new base in Holyrood. I’d love to see Douglas Alexander as a West of Scotland list MSP realise what his sister found out all too late: we don’t have the powers to do what we need to do.