10 December 2006

If he'd said this two weeks ago, he'd win the Comical Ali award

I'm speaking about Jack McConnell's intentions to go it alone in a minority single-party government, as reported in the papers today. At a time when most Labour analysts are bricking it about May, and even forecasting a loss of 12 constituencies (though offset by Regioanl gains, so most people have them around the 40 mark), McConnell predicts a net GAIN of 5 seats!

He wants a looser agreement, where he can get a majority with different parties on an issue-by-issue basis. A very risky strategy, considering that a) the SNP will sniff a possibility to make his life a misery for four years, or it will give them the full life of the Parliament to get a majority together that will oust McConnell and install either Alex Salmond or Nicola Sturgeon as First Minister; b) McConnell's support for Trident has just destroyed any possibility that he can get Green support; and c) the Tories will probably have Murdo Fraser as their leader after the Election, and so will take a more neo-Con approach in terms of economics, and more sympathetic towards additional powers for Holyrood - the exact opposite of McConnell's stance. Of course, McConnell would have to get personal support in the Chamber in the first instance, which won't be an easy task.

In fact, I'd go so far as to say that the LibDems will be the big winners in this affair: with Labour's popularity at Holyrood and Westminster at a serious low, the accusation that they are 'Jack's Little Helpers', and the view that Nicol Stephen is pretty much the permanent Deputy First Minister to either Jack McConnell or Alex Salmond is probably hampering them. By effectively setting them free, McConnell is allowing the LibDems to oppose Labour freely, safe in the knowledge that they won't face 1,000 U-turns after the election. This could see yet more votes move away from Labour, this time towards the LibDems.

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