Do Labour now expect a coalition with the SNP?

Labour's deputy leader in Scotland has "no qualms whatsoever about working with the SNP".

Labour’s deputy leader in Scotland has “no qualms whatsoever about working with the SNP”

Labour’s efforts in campaigning for a majority government in May have been dealt a setback following remarks by the deputy leader of the party in Scotland.

Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland’s Crossfire programme yesterday, Kezia Dugdale appeared to concede that Labour is aiming simply to become the largest single party in the Commons and that she would be perfectly comfortable with an agreement to government with the SNP.

She told the programme:

“I think what we’re setting out to do is to be the largest party. I have no qualms whatsoever about working with the SNP, I argued very strongly for example here in Edinburgh that Labour and the SNP join together to run the city council and they do that very, very well.

“I’m not tribal in that sense, I don’t think many Labour voters or Labour members are.”

Her remarks have been seized upon on the day that Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy kicks off Labour’s election campaign in Scotland with a pledge to reach out to almost 200,000 voters who voted Labour in 2010 but supported independence in September.

In response to Dugdale’s remarks, SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson commented:

“Kezia Dugdale is deputy leader of Labour in Scotland and has just completely undermined their general election attack on the SNP. Ms Dugdale said that Labour are aiming to be the ‘largest party’ in the UK – not win a majority – and she is happy to work with the SNP.

“This, of course, reinforces the SNP case that there is no need to vote Labour in Scotland to get rid of the Tories.

“It is vital that Jim Murphy and Ed Miliband now make clear if they agree with the deputy leader of Labour in Scotland on this matter.”

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has also used a letter to supporters to warn that Labour and the SNP are “already halfway down the aisle” to forming the next government.

Meanwhile, on the day that the SNP begin their general election campaign, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has seemingly ruled out any idea of a formal coalition with Labour. Speaking this morning on BBC Radio Scotland she explained:

“I’m not instinctively that keen on coalitions. I, as you know, was deputy first minister in a minority government between 2007 and 2011 and I think there’s a lot to be said for minority government.

“You’re absolutely correct that the SNP would never support formally or informally a Tory government but we could make sure that Labour didn’t get away with taking Scotland for granted in the way that it has done for far too long.”

Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward

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12 Responses to “Do Labour now expect a coalition with the SNP?”

  1. swat

    A Coalition of Labour and the Nationalist Parties should be out of the question; for the obvious reasons:, it would be smack in the face oe EVEL and the English would not put up with it, or should put up with it. But all the Nats are quite entitled to support a Lab Minority Govt if they wish to do so.

  2. uglyfatbloke

    Realistically – as thing stand right now – a coalition that includes the gnats is a viable option for Ed, but he can hardly say so can he? I don’t think it much matters if Kezxia says something for no better reason that it’s true.

  3. Leon Wolfeson

    So now you’re spinning yourself as “the English”, who won’t put up with democracy.

  4. AlanGiles

    Murphy as deputy PM would ensure that Blairism headed it’s ugly rear again. Another good reason to give Labour in 2015 a miss

  5. treborc1

    I thought when you went into a coalition the party you went with which would be the SNP would take the deputy roll . Murphy is leader of labour in Scotland now he’d not have a roll unless he quit Scottish labour..

  6. AlanGiles

    Sorry I expressed myself very badly. I suspect Murphy has ambitions far beyond Scotland – especially if Labour is reduced to a rump in Scotland. From the day he became leader he was laying the law down about how he wouldn’t be led from Westminster. I suspect he would like to be the one leading, As he was so highly praised for his “No” campaign (why for God’s sake?) a dminished role in Scotland might well make him look South again

  7. Bill Bradbury

    As the SNP are projecting themselves as the new labour party (Old Labour they say deserted them) it is an obvious alliance. However there will be conditions such as scrapping Trident or even more Scottish concessions.

  8. jerseydave

    It will be interesting if changes are to be brought in some parts of the union at the behest of a group that wishes to break away from it.

  9. Guest

    Er…no, they’re not doing anything of the sort, as Scottish Nationalists and not a British party.

    And right, give up the UN seat, quit NATO, give Scotland all the cash, blah blah….

  10. Guest

    No surprise you don’t like many Scotsmen either.

  11. AlanGiles

    Leon you have a quaint way of putting words into people’s mouths. Finding one Scotsman obnoxious means in your little world I “don’t like many Scotsmen” does it?

  12. Guest

    So you’re saying you’re fine with Gordon Brown, for example?

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