18 March 2008

A marriage made in Iain Dale's imagination

Conservative Blogstablishment figure Iain Dale has hinted that there might be a Tory-SNP Coalition in the future at Westminster. I suspect that is merely wishful thinking on Mr. Dale's part.

For the sake of consistency, having supported the principle of SNP-Tory Coalitions in local government, I will say that I'm not totally averse to the idea, but the conditions for me would be:

1. We win the Westminster election in Scotland;
2. The Tories win it in England;
3. The winners in Wales and Northern Ireland take part.

Now frankly, the idea of a Tory-SNP-Welsh Labour-DUP Coalition is completely laughable, so either the Coalition won't happen or I'm going to be a very unhappy man.

But it won't happen.

Firstly, the circumstances needed for a Coalition would be very precise: the Tories have to get less than a majority but enough for SNP MPs to push them past the winning post.

Secondly, the SNP have to get enough seats to tip the balance and be influential in a Coalition. For the SNP to have any sort of meaningful clout the party would need to win practically every seat in Scotland. As things stand, the arithmetic would favour an agreement not dissimilar to the one the SNP has with the Greens.

Thirdly, if you're in the SNP, the chances are you'll view choosing between a Tory or Labour Government like being asked to choose whether to be shot or stabbed. Neither is overly appealing.

Fourthly, when you think about it, isn't going into a UK Government legitimising the UK Government? Why would the SNP do that?

Fifthly, wouldn't be a bit rich for the SNP to have a say in the governance of England, Wales and Northern Ireland at the Cabinet table?

Sixthly, when you look at how minority government has worked in Scotland until now, and the deft manner in whihc Annabel Goldie has played her parliamentary hand, I have to admit that the Scottish Tories provide us with a good model for reacting to a hung parliament at Westminster. Why, then, would we want to follow the LibDem model in the previous Coalition Executive?

And seventhly - this is the most important one - although the SNP National Council did approve of deals with the Tories at Council level, it also supported an amendment which ruled out parliamentary Coalitions. So deals at Holyrood and Westminster are both out of the question.

So there you have it. I'm sorry, Mr. Dale, but I fear your post was made more in hope than expectation.

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