11 February 2007


Scotland on Sunday are reporting that the LibDems want Nicol Stephen to be First Minister as part of any Coalition deal, regardless of whether they are the junior or senior partner. We have gone from 'I will lead the largest Party' to 'I will not support Party X in situation Y' to 'Putting me in Bute House is the price for our support'. We have also gone from 'We will support whoever gets the most votes' to 'We might get the most votes' to 'We might not like who gets the most votes' to 'Whoever gets the most votes, our man should lead the Executive'. The LibDems cite examples of the junior partner taking the lead, but I'd bet that's as a compromise, a method of holding a weak Coalition together when there are more than two parties involved and the relations between the largest party and one of the others are tense at best. For Stephen the problems are as follows:

1. He needs more than 17 seats to do this. If he can't make substantial gains, his case for the top job looks weak as he's proven himself unable to persuade more people than have already supported the LibDems under Jim Wallace to back the Party under him.

2. The Liberal Democrats have supported Jack McConnell as First Minister since 2001. If they are still willing to go into Coalition with Labour, why should that suddenly change? And why would McConnell give up the job, unless he were to resign as Labour Leader immediately after the election?

3. If the SNP are involved, Stephen then has to explain why he ruled out a deal with the SNP until it involved him entering Bute House.

Speaking of which, Scotland on Sunday also reports that the LibDems are in informal discussions with the SNP, despite Sir Menzies Campbell, Nicol Stephen and Tavish Scott all ruling out a deal. One of the paper's sources said that it would be foolish for them to rule out talking to the SNP!

1 comment:

Richard Thomson said...

Bang on the money!