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.
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…
— Nick Sutton (@suttonnick) May 6, 2012
[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.
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?
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.