18 May 2006

Indecision 2007?

It seems that Labour have pressed the self-destruct button on leading any meaningful majority Coalition government: reports in The Scotsman suggest that Labour will pave the way for new nuclear power stations in their election manifesto.

Firstly, next year was always going to be difficult for them: even the most optimistic predictions had them losing enough seats to have to find support from a third party as well as the LibDems, who were themselves beginning to think that a third term of Coalition wasn't such a good idea. Given the LibDems' opposition to nuclear power, the gulf between the two Executive parties has now widened. This could mean that Labour have to turn to the Conservatives (they've voted together on some social issues in the past), but hardly anyone in either party (outwith the Holyrood group) would wear that, and the Tories claim to be against Coalition. Besides, it's looking unlikely that the combined strength of those two parties will reach 65 seats post-2007. So whether Labour got into bed with the Conservatives or pulled off the shock of the decade and maintained the partnership with the LibDems, they'd need a third party involved. The likeliest (well, the only) candidate would be the Greens, who have all but agreed an entente cordiale with the SNP, and oppose nuclear power. So basically, Labour are in trouble.

But the SNP-Green understanding probably won't be any good on its own either: the prospects of either party advancing to a point where they had a majority are slim, so an SNP-LibDem-Green Coalition, basd on opposition to nuclear among other things, could be on the cards. Or at lieast it would be, if Nicol Stephen hadn't come out against an independence referendum, which the SNP will insist on and the Greens will support.

In short, Nicol Stephen has to make a very severe U-turn between now and 2007. He either has to let nuclear in, or support the idea of a referendum on independence, which, let's face it, isn't the same as supporting independence.

Whatever happens, remember the two-thirds rule: a two-third majority of the Parliament can vote for its dissolution and the holding of fresh elections. That means that a party needs 43 seats or more to block a dissolution if it wants to. If no one gets that, and there doesn't seem to be the prospect of a stable government (minority, Coalition or both), then it's going to be an odd four years.

Expect hysteria from your blogger during that time.

1 comment:

Neil Craig said...

You leave out the possibility of a minority government (New Zealand has run on them for years) with de facto support from one or more parties. If no minority government could be formed after some time we would have to have a new election which is a doomsday scenario few parties would wish to be responsible for.

With the newfound SNP commitment to small government they would fit quite well with the Tories but are constitutionally prevented from doing so.

Probably a minority government with the SNP would be unable to arrange a referendum. Nuclear would be even more interesting in that we could find a minority Labour govt supported by the Tories in favour of nuclear refusing a Parliamentary majorities call for a veto of westminster's nuclear plans.

Alternately we could see Labour doing ok at the election, partly on saying we need nuclear to stop blackouts, A SNP/SLD/Green government with no nuclear & producing blackouts & Labour getting back, overwhelmingly, 4 years later.