13 August 2007

We're not playing with you

A thought occurs: if Labour, the Tories and the LibDems really are serious about supporting the Union and stressing its benefits, why are they refusing to take part in the 'national conversation' discussing Scotland's constitutional future? Why not engage, and emphasise the positive rather that sit and carp from the sidelines? Remember that positivity (or lack of it) made this election and its aftermath: Labour ran a negative campaign and lost. The SNP put forward their own agenda and came first. The Tories put forward their own programme, and held on. The LibDems threatened to go in a huff with one party, and lost a seat. They then carried out that threat and lost further credibility. Why is it rhat the Tories have opted to emulate the failed negativity of Labour and the LibDems, rather than Labour and the LibDems opting to make the positive case for the Union that they all claim exists? Why is it that they can all talk about that positive case but neer seem to go into detail as to what it consists of? (The full text of Jack McConnell, Annabel Goldie and Nicol Stephen's joint statement is here.)

And as for those in the three parties who don't want independence but do want further powers for Holyrood? The Unionist parties are accusing the national conversation of being a one-way megaphone, but are refusing to use the process to advance the case for further powers within the Union. And if or when they produce their position, there will be no debate, no give-and-take, no discussions on the way forward. It will be their way or no way. Yet still they accuse the SNP's approach of being a megaphone. They claim they will debate the way forward, but don't want the SNP to join their debate as they'll mention independence. They don't want to join the SNP's debate as it will consider independence. In doing so they miss their best opportuinty to advocate the Union. And they undermine their argument that the SNP are talking at people rather than with them: the Unionist parties' approach is now: "don't talk to them, talk to us instead, but only if you agree with us in the first place."

Some debate!


Graf von Straf Hindenburg said...

Payment will be made in full.

Anonymous said...

Actually the Tories lost a seat at the election as well as the Lib Dems. Their vote fell whilst the Lib Dems went up. Does that affect your theory?

Will said...

I see what your saying, Anon, but that's not the whole story: in the run-up to the campaign proper, the Tories were struggling to make an impact, and what little coverage the got was negative. They were, indeed, tipped to go backwards. Conversely, the LibDems were seen as 'The Party Of Real Momentum' (as least by themselves, anyway), and they got a good deal of coverage, mainly due to the coverage of the LibDems as kingmakers. They were tipped to go forwards.

Further, both parties' Constitiuency Vote went up, and both parties' Regional Vote went down, so part of the premise of your question doesn't hold.

So while both parties ended up one MSP short (though the Tories did lose another to the Chair), the Tories were expected to do worse while the LibDems were expected to do better, and one of the LibDem Constituency losses was to the Conservatives, so all in all, the Tories came out OK.

Further, the Tory approach has suited them in the aftermath of the campaign, with the party potentially having influence in various policy areas (law and order springs to mind). The LibDem approach has served them badly and they initially looked petty. Now they just look isolated.