Making the LibDem Mistake

20 Scottish Labour, 18 Scottish National Party, 11 Conservative, 6 Scottish Green, and 3 Liberal Democrats. Now before the election all of the parties were talking about the necessity for “interparty cooperation”, but this is… well.

Dan Phillips at BetterNation:

So now comes the hard part. If you follow conventional wisdom, Labour gets to govern and SNP form the opposition, giving the Tories the mathematical possibility of getting in bed with the Reds while the Greens and Lib Dems are left in the cold.

For me that would be a crazy conclusion. Just look at the manifestos. And then look at the behaviour of Greens and Labour at the tailend of the last session, they marched in lockstep on so many things they reeked of a government in waiting. Their policies agree on the end result, Labour say ‘co-operative council’, Greens say ‘Participative Budgets’, they just propose different means. They can work it out.

Which leaves a Lab/Green coalition on 26, short of the magic 30 for a majority of one. But hold your horses, the last administration only had 28, with 17 Lib Dems and 11 SNP until one swapped parties within the coalition.

That makes sense. And furthermore, shouldn’t annoy too many of either party’s voters – I voted for both Chas Booth and Gordon Munro in Leith.

But assuming that the Scotsman have got this right, it appears that Edinburgh Labour don’t give a toss what their voters want…

Moving Edinburgh Toryward Together

[Coalition with the Tories would be so politically stupid for Labour that I cannot help wondering if either the Scotsman have got the story outright wrong, or else that they have distorted a “let us not have unnecessary fights” agreement between the two largest parties into a fullblown coalition.

But….] updated

Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

Update: I was deeply relieved to hear that Labour and the SNP were going into coalition for Edinburgh Council – and I wonder now if Edinburgh Labour released the news they were in dialogue with the Tories just to make their pairing up with the SNP more acceptable to voters of both parties?

Rory Scothorne cleverly predicted this on 29th April:

Of course, nobody really expects Labour and the SNP in Holyrood to put that single, profound difference aside and join forces for social justice. The constitution is far too important an issue in this country to be sidelined.

But what about local government? There’s no doubt that the parties instinctively dislike each other just as much at a local level as they do nationally, but there’s not really much sense to that. After all, SNP councillors can’t legislate for a referendum. Nor can Labour councillors vote against one. That central issue that pushes the two parties apart is completely irrelevant at a council level.

That’s why it makes a great deal of sense for the SNP to consider the Labour Party as coalition partners. The voting system means it’s going to be hard for either to get many majorities without coalition, but if they refuse to try working together that will be a struggle. In many local authorities it’s unlikely that the Liberal Democrats or the Greens will manage to get enough of the vote to top up either Labour or the SNP and take them past the halfway mark, while both will be deeply reluctant to join an unholy union with the Tories while that party leads such an unpopular administration in Westminster.


Filed under Elections, George Orwell, Scottish Politics

5 responses to “Making the LibDem Mistake

  1. Labour were in coalition with the Tories in South Lanarkshire last time (and, I think, somewhere else too? Have to check). It’s not a novelty, or necessarily politically stupid: Labour remain the largest party in SL.

    • If you’ve got links to where the Tories & Labour were in coalition for the last five years & how this worked (& how voters of either party felt about it) would appreciate your sharing.

      • Falkirk was the other one I was thinking of: a Labour-Tory-Ind coalition. And again, Labour are still the largest party. It seems no seats changed hands at all there last week. Doesn’t suggest it’s particularly damaging. Labour are also going in with the Tories in East Lothian, apparently.

        Few people take much notice of who the junior party in their council administration is, which means Falkirk Labour felt able to come out with pre-election lines like this: “On 3rd May people face a choice, a party who were founded by the workers and trades unions who represented them, or one which was founded by disaffected tartan Tories.”

        Edinburgh might be a different story because it’s a more prominent local authority, I suppose. Much more surprising is the possibility of Scotland’s first Lab-SNP coalition in East Renfrewshire.

  2. Fiona Menzies

    Hi Jane
    Thanks for drawing attention to this.

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