Scottish Labour in chaos over whether to fight Tory government

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Scottish Labour’s stance over a rainbow alliance appeared in disarray today after leading figures….

Scottish Labour’s stance over a rainbow alliance appeared in disarray today after leading figures squabbled over whether or not to fight the formation of a Conservative government at Westminster.

Douglas Alexander and Tom Harris have become the latest Scottish Labour MPs to reject the SNP’s offer of a partnership in order to prevent the Conservatives forming the next UK Government.  However a public spat ensued as Mr Harris suggested that Labour ought to accept a Tory Government, that he would rather see that happen than join with SNP MPs at Westminster.  However Mr Alexander argued that Labour were right to seek to prevent a Tory government, but crucially, he also ruled out any SNP involvement.

Speaking today Mr Alexander the MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South said:
“It is perfectly reasonable, indeed it is constitutional, that these discussions are now taking place because we need to get to a position where somebody is able to command a majority in the House of Commons.”

The MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South ruled out any agreement with the SNP by saying:
“Personally, I can’t envisage circumstances in which we would enter into agreement with the Scottish National Party.”

Mr Harris said:
“We are in this position because we lost the election.
 
“I am worried about the long-term future of the Labour Party if we are seen to scrabbling around in a very ungracious way desperately trying to hold on to power in any and all circumstances.”
 
The MP for Glasgow South added:
“It seems to me we are not talking about a rainbow coalition. We are talking about Labour plus the Liberal Democrats, supported whenever the Nationalists feel like it on crucial issues.
 
“That does not equate at all to a stable long-term government arrangement.”

Mr Harris was joined by former Labour cabinet minister and now Celtic FC Chairman John Reid who also called for Labour to reject any alliance with the SNP.  Mr Reid argued that the Conservatives, as the largest party, should be allowed to take power.

The rejection of the SNP’s offer echo similar statements from other Scottish Labour MPs and MSPs who have poured scorn on the alliance proposal.

London Labour are currently locked in a battle with the Conservatives as both try to woo Nick Clegg’s Lib Dems.  A Labour/Lib Dem alliance would not command a majority and would require the help of ‘smaller’ parties including the nationalist parties of Scotland and Wales. 

It has been suggested though that such is Scottish Labour’s loathing of the SNP that they would demand the Scottish nationalists be excluded from any agreements.  This would still require the support of Plaid Cymru and it is doubtful that the Welsh would allow its pact with the SNP to be broken.

Such a move would also be fraught with danger as it would mean Labour entering into negotiations with Northern Irish parties including the Tory supporting Democratic Unionist Party.  This sort of arrangement would bring with it the baggage of Northern Irish sectarianism and might not play well in Scotland’s catholic heartlands.  It would also lead to accusations that Labour were prepared to sacrifice Scotland and instead ply the Irish province with ‘goodies’ in return for Commons support.

It has also emerged that the two parties may well attempt to go it alone without any agreement from the smaller parties.  However it is difficult to see how such a minority administration could survive.  Labour and the Lib Dems may well be daring the other parties to vote them down and create a similar situation to 1979 when Labour lost a vote of confidence.  This game of brinkmanship with the governance of the UK in times of economic turmoil may well seriously damage confidence in UK financial institutions.

There is also of course the English element.  The UK’s geographical giant voted overwhelmingly to remove Labour; there was also no noticeable Clegg ‘bounce’.  Such a contrived alliance between Labour/Lib Dems and whatever smaller parties Labour allow onboard is sure to cause considerable unrest in a country that is becoming increasingly intolerant of the ‘subsidised Celts’.  The sweetener of proportional representation mightn’t be enough to placate our Anglo Saxon friends.

There is a game of chess taking place and cool heads are required.  Labour’s Scottish branch appear to have allowed emotion to cloud their vision.  If Labour’s attempts at an alliance fail or if an alliance emerges but is so unstable that it is short lived then the behaviour of these Scottish Labour MPs may well come back to haunt them.

One last thing:
Lest we forget; it is not a crown that is being fought over here – it is an axe.  The party who ‘wins’ these negotiations and forms the next UK government will have to wield this axe in a manner so ruthless they become unelectable for years.

The ultimate winners in this game of russian roulette could well be the ones given the bullet.