Little To Gain
Posted on October 11th, 2018
by Rab Bruce’s Spider
So Jeremy Corbyn has ruled out any sort of deal with the SNP which would see him become Prime Minister in a minority Government. This is precisely what Ed Milliband did, so perhaps it is no surprise. Part of the problem for Labour leaders is that the media in England have persuaded a large section of the population that the SNP hate the English, so any deal with them could be seen as a toxic betrayal of the English people, many of whom dread the thought that any other nation can exercise any sort of control over them. (Stop laughing at the back there!).
It briefly crossed my mind that another factor might be that Corbyn is so entrenched in the Westminster system that anything which disrupts the two-Party hegemony is automatically dismissed, but I think that is probably not the case. After all, we’ve seen coalitions in Westminster recently, and the DUP backing of the Tories shows that political expediency can lead to such deals. So the problem is not with support deals, but with the SNP.
Is Corbyn’s dismissal of the SNP simply another example of the Bain principle at work? Perhaps it is, but there could also be some logic behind it. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that another General election is called and that Labour would need the support of the SNP in order to form a Government under a confidence and supply arrangement. What would the SNP’s price for such a deal be? Agreeing to support a Labour Government for a full five year term would not be in the SNP’s best interests because another Holyrood election would take place before that term ends, and there is always the possibility that, if the UK Government has been stabilised by the SNP, many Scots voters would decide to support a Unionist Party in Holyrood, thus removing the current pro-Indy majority.
Another factor is that, thanks to EVEL, the support the SNP could provide would be limited, perhaps resulting in the Labour Government being unable to push through some of its policies in the face of united opposition from the other Parties.
And the big issue is that, if the SNP decide that holding another IndyRef is the price of their support, that puts Labour in a difficult position. As the ruling Party of Government, they would want to oppose Scottish independence, yet that would set them in direct opposition to the Party keeping them in power. And if the vote goes the way we hope it does, it would result in the collapse of the Labour Government as soon as the SNP left Westminster on Scotland regaining its status as a normal country.
So Corbyn probably has little to gain from agreeing to any sort of deal with the SNP. Yet, while his announcement has probably pleased a large section of his support, it has also added to the ammunition available to the SNP who now have yet another example of apparent scorn and dismissal from a Westminster Party. In pro-Indy eyes, Labour have again shown where their allegiance lies, and every example is another stepping stone for the Yes movement.
It’s almost enough to make you feel sorry for Corbyn. Almost, but not quite.