SNP, Labour, Conservative: Who is using whom?

Thoughts on the recent political and media focus on a potential Labour-SNP pact to lock out the Tories


It’s become clear that none of the main political parties are preparing for majority Government, making the manifestos somewhat redundant given how much will need to be negotiated. Each party has given themselves political room for manoeuvre within the language of their manifestos, with red lines able to disappear very easily. The most significant example of this is the growing alignment between the SNP and Labour. The issue of Trident and Ed Miliband’s concrete statement on a coalition means a formal coalition with SNP is highly unlikely. But a pact to lock out the Tories is very much on the cards.

Nevertheless, both parties have to be careful not to be too close, too soon. For Labour the headline is always going to be “going for a majority”, while leaving the shadow cabinet to give veiled support in the broadsheets that only the politicos will pick up. For the SNP they also have a tricky tight rope walk. There is no denying the SNP will look to capitalise on their expected increased influence in Westminster, with the May 2016 Scottish parliamentary elections always in mind. However, being too disruptive could also backfire, and failing to support Labour could leave the SNP on the same side of the voting chamber as the Tories.

This has not stopped the Tories from talking up the SNP’s ability to hi-jack and manipulate a Labour Government to their will. The Conservatives’ persistence with this message has ensured that this story has dominated. The Conservatives are using separatist fear to stoke English concern and win back UKIP voters or wavering Conservatives. In a strange turn of events, even former Conservative Ministers are advocating voting Labour in Scotland, peddling the ‘anyone but the SNP’ message.  However, even within the Tory party there is concern that the party is coming across as obsessed with this issue and have reverted to negative campaigning, while also inadvertently putting oxygen in the SNP fire.


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