Let’s leave party tribalism to Westminster

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By Alex Robertson

The news that the Labour and SNP parties in the capital have agreed to share in coalition the city council government is most welcome. Independence needs more than just the vote of the supporters of the SNP in the 2014 referendum.  And independence goes way beyond partisan political doctrines.

We are entering a new phase in our road to independence, one of collaboration and reaching out to find common ground between all political parties.

The first Salmond government showed it was perfectly possible to provide a stable and competent government while only commanding a minority of votes in the Parliament.  That was achieved by seeking and finding common views, goals and policies which could be shared and supported by the parliament right across the political spectrum.

Mr. Cardownie said on Tuesday evening that the Labour and SNP manifestos for the Local Elections had a great deal in common.  That is not surprising, since they are all chasing for support from the same parts of the electorate.

We are not really used to coalitions in our political system, although elsewhere in Europe, they are common and have served their peoples well.  But we are learning, and Mr. Salmond said often before the last parliamentary elections in 2011, that he would prefer another minority government.

It is not difficult to see why.  Only by sharing policies and objectives can the independence cause be rendered less partisan when it comes to securing support from members and supporters of the other political parties in Scotland.

That is not so surprising either, nor controversial. An independent Scotland will want to be free to elect parliaments and governments of different political persuasions, and to elect coalition partners as well.

The Scottish electorate has proved itself to be discerning and highly intelligent when it comes to elections.  Why should we not expect to have a Labour government in an independent Scotland, or some rainbow coalition of LibDems and Tories (or their successors, as seems now blindingly clearly needed)?

And that starts being made possible by the Holyrood parties seeking consensus and forming alliances policy by policy, despite having an absolute majority.  The same applies to our local government councils.  We will not get that sense and feeling of partnership if we are constantly at loggerheads with the other parties on every issue all the time.

The Salmond government showed all Scots in the first administration that they could and would collaborate with any other political shade of opinion if it was in Scotland’s interests.  People saw and were convinced that stable, competent and better government was the result.

And now it is time to show again that independence transcends political hue, and it is not a betrayal of long-held political views to support an independent Scotland.  Nobody has to ditch their political positions on the spectrum. It is time to put Scotland first, before partisan purity.