Labour needs to start talking to the SNP

Ed Miliband will need the votes of Scottish MPs if a Labour-led government is to work


The constant stream of polling data about the coming election, often contradictory, will have become bewildering to some.

Against this background however, figures buried away in ComRes’s most recent data compiled for the Daily Mail contain some worrying findings for Labour.

Let’s start from the basis that, without some miraculous change, no party will get an overall majority at the next election.

Labour still have every reason to believe that they could at least be the largest single party in the Commons, giving them an opportunity to seek to form a government first. Under such circumstances Labour will need an agreement, either as a formal coalition or so called ‘confidence and supply’ on a vote by vote basis.

Looking at the polls, a partnership with the Lib Dems could still leave Ed Miliband short of a majority of votes in the Commons. Whatever the rhetoric therefore, the SNP remain probably the only viable and realistic proposition in town. Little wonder that Labour List has urged the party to start talking with the Scottish Nationalists.

However, comments by Nicola Sturgeon that the SNP would be prepared to end the party’s self-imposed ban on voting on English issues have proved a double edged sword.

For a Labour-led government to work, Ed Miliband will surely need the votes of Scottish MPs in one form or another, in order to pass much legislation that will have no bearing whatsoever on Scottish constituencies.

ComRes’s polling however has clearly indicated that whilst voters would be prepared to see the SNP in Government, they are not in the mood for Scottish MPs voting on English only issues.

57 per cent of those questioned agreed that the SNP should be able to join a UK-wide coalition government if that was needed. 55 per cent however argued that if that happened, SNP MPs should not be allowed to vote on matters that do not affect Scotland.

Whilst it might sound like a fringe issue, it is a problem that Labour strategists now need to confront head on, since it goes right to the heart of issues of their legitimacy in the eyes of voters.

The problem is just one of many documented by Simon Heffer in the current edition of the New Statesman, in which he outlines the mess that is likely to result after May, whatever the outcome of the votes.

Perhaps the best thing all the parties could be doing right now is be putting money aside in preparation for a second election, although that will depend on whether the Fixed Term Parliament Act would enable that to happen.

Right now, the only party that will be raising a smile will be the SNP.

Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter

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38 Responses to “Labour needs to start talking to the SNP”

  1. RolftheGanger

    The article is incorrect in that Sturgeon simply restated longstanding SNP policy.

    There are two parts, which get conflated, by hostile media.
    A. The SNP will continue to NOT vote on true English only legislation. However, such legislation is remarkably scant. 14 items last year is a figure quoted.

    B. The SNP will continue to vote on laws affecting England or rUK, as and when that legislation has a knock on effect on Scotland that they consider requires them to vote. The near standard knock on effect is that Scotland’s budget is tied to what is spent in England/rUK Not automatically, but mostly so. Thus a bill privatising part of the NHS and reducing direct public expenditure in England has the knock on effect of reducing the budget in Scotland for the Scottish NHS. This is a deliberate part of the Treasury doing its utmost to entangle Scotland and obscure and obfusticate what gets raised and spent in each of the nations constituting the UK state and more importantly hiding the vast subsidies to London and the SE.

  2. Gary Scott

    I can only think that these worries about SNP MPs voting are being raised by a party without Scottish MPs. Although all main parties are represented in Scotland the Tories only have one left. As it is, and ever was, Labour depends on its Scottish MPs to vote on English matters. The whole issue is a diversion. Whatever ‘problems’ need to be resolved they are not dependent upon whether its Labour or SNP MPs voting in Westminster.

  3. littleoddsandpieces

    …Labour still have every reason to believe that they could at least be the largest single party in the Commons, giving them an opportunity to seek to form a government first. …

    The SNP and Plaid Cymru have said in internet news article they would help Labour in power in a supply and confidence not coalition idea.

    The SNP / Plaid Cymru could not possibly help the Tories finally dismantling the entire welfare state, and Tories even talk of cutting the current lowest of all rich nations’ state pension (not a benefit but stuck inside austerity wrongly) if they win in2 015.

    The Greens are out of the picture with just 1 MP in Westminster.

    Tories could win in 2015 with only a couple more MPs than Labour)

    The OECD tell us that the UK national debt is only about a world’s average.

    So there is no national debt nor deficit in the UK.

    Welfare and state pension (not a benefit) reform are the cause of rise of national debt, not solved by it, because the welfare admin cost is rising, whilst the money to the starving is reducing year on year.

    So there is a way for Labour to get a majority and I am surprised that left wing media like

    The New Statesman and The Guardian do not help to bring it about.

    In England, there are socialist parties who get nil media coverage,
    but who could win big in marginals of sitting Tory and Lib Dem MPs,
    because the poor (bulk in work) outnumber all other voters today.

    Today, pundits predict a hung parliament needing a coalition.

    In Europe, this has meant far more than 2 parties in a coalition, in multi party coalitions, using this supply and confidence method that Plaid Cymru and SNP offer, but other English socialist parties could agree with? Will they?

    In England, there is no coverage by the media of parties that would have the most interest to the tens of millions of poor from 18 to infinity, in or out of work or retired, such as:

    – 1 million aged 60-64 denied state pension payout and only on some kind of welfare,
    – half of over 50s / over 60s within the working poor, and
    – about half of that age group with some disability in amongst the 11 million disabled of all ages.

    There are 1 million of all ages, including 60-73, with nil state pension and nil welfare, out of work.

    Unable to find work, as they must spend all their time seeking to thwart death from starvation and keeping warm in a bitter winter.

    Where is the coverage of socialist parties in England of:

    – The Left Unity Party – helped to come into being by The Guardian and then not given a regular column each day?

    – Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) – not given a regular column with links to their own page on all trade union websites and newspapers and on posters in front of union offices in towns and cities.

    – Class War (Double dole and pension) – where are they in the London-centric newspapers.

    – Socialist party of Great Britain (Socialist GB) confused with TUSC on so many websites.

    – Mebyon Kernow of Cornwall
    (who showed their left wing credentials in council elections when they offered cutting council manager salaries, so as to fund a living wage for all their basic grade staff).
    Another Celt supply and confidence potential partner.

    The Independent newspaper has front page news about welfare reform causing starvation, yet gives no coverage of these above socialist parties that would help the poor more than any so-called big party entrenched in pro-austerity.

    Only the poor pay for austerity.

    We see other high income levels doing right well so they have little need of voting.

    So where is the small party columns in the media?

    Because the public, of all income levels, are showing they will not sufficiently vote ever again
    for the so-called big parties.

    This is a Vote or Starve election.

  4. madasafish

    This is a deliberate part of the Treasury doing its utmost to entangle Scotland and obscure and obfusticate

    What a load of Baloney. The Barnett formula which locks Scottish spending to English was formulated in 1978 by Joel Barnett who was the Labour Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

  5. sarntcrip

    they need to talk to the greens too

  6. sarntcrip

    lab/green/snp coalition could prove to be the progressive government we need to makea corrected capitalism work for everyone though milliband would have t stop being so TORY FRIENDLY

  7. ForeignRedTory

    How many seats do you expect the Greens to carry?
    Just Labour AND LibDem AND SNP requires 3 Parties to agree – no simple matter.

    What exactly requires adding the Greens to the broth to make it 4?

  8. RolftheGanger

    What part of Secretary TO the Treasury, did you miss?

  9. Guest

    A. Not what your Dear Leader said.
    B. So you then admit you’ll vote on the legislation which does not affect Scotland, right.

    You keep saying that there’s this plot, when in fact what the Tories have done has preserved Scottish NHS funding. You’re the one here on a Jihad to obscure and obfuscate and not pay tax.

    Keep hating on the British though, especially poor londoners who you’re so hostile to – because they’re not Scottish and don’t thus matter to you.

  10. Guest

    Yes, you want people to starve rather than vote as you spam your site. Same old, same old.

  11. Peter A Bell

    This article at least has the advantage of being a fairly rational assessment of the situation, in stark contrast to the recent ranting of Duncan Hothersall over at Labour Hame where he demands that British Labour rule out any sort of deal with the SNP even if this means letting the Tories back into power. Such is the mindless tribal hatred which lies at the rotten core of the pretendy wee “Scottish Labour Party”..

    But why should people in England be concerned about SNP MPs voting on “England-only” issues when there is no prospect of this happening? There has been no meaningful change in the SNP’s self-imposed ordinance of not voting on matters which do not affect Scotland. Nicola Sturgeon has merely stressed that it will be for the SNP group at Westminster to decide which matters are covered the convention.

    The British media has created a groundless furore over this issue largely because they are both massively ill-informed about Scottish politics and fatally biased against the SNP. But behind their ranting and fuming there is also an arrogant assumption that only the establishment parties have the right to determine what constitutes an England-only issue. The British establishment is outraged at the thought of the SNP deciding for itself how it should operate its own entirely voluntary convention.

  12. madasafish

    ? I don’t understand your comment . I assume you don’t understand that financial arrangements with Scotland has been in place for 37 years and the Treasury is only enacting long agreed policy.

  13. Leon Wolfeson

    Stitch-ups before the election are not what Britain needs.

    There’s a reason that coalitions are made AFTER elections, when parties come together and negotiate to form a government, in democracies. Thanks to FPTP, sadly. we have coalitions which only loosely represent voters and your type of pre-election negotiation means that many people who vote for a party will never see anything they want, and supposedly voted for.

  14. RolftheGanger

    I “admit” no such thing. You have a logic deficit.

    By definition, if a bill has knock on effects on Scotland it is NOT an English only bill.

    Keep emoting nonsense. It is good therapy for you to express all that bile and rage against the Scots upsetting your sense of entitlement to ‘superiority’ over Scotland.

  15. RolftheGanger

    Which the Treasury played a major part in designing in the first place. The Treasury are the core of the over-centralised imperialist Westminster system.

  16. Leon Wolfeson

    Ah yes, those evil “Imperialist” British!

    Remind me, you *are* in favour of allowing the Isles independence from Scotland, right?

  17. RolftheGanger

    How naive, gullible enough to believe in a non-existent “independence movement”

  18. Leon Wolfeson

    Yea, I’m sure you want to convince me you don’t exist.

  19. uglyfatbloke

    He’s got a point; the ‘Sheltand Independence’ thing is firmly rooted in the minds (I use the term loosely) of the Daily mail and a handful of MPs. but it does n’t exist in real life. If it did, I might well vote for it!

  20. Leon Wolfeson

    Yea, how dare they not want to be part of the Glorious Greater Scotland, etc.

    Come off, the polling is quite clear.

  21. Guest

    Oh right, you’re not admitting it, you’re trumpeting it loudly. My bad, logic deficit fixed!

    You’re talking about a policy change, as you call not hating Britain to be “nonsense”, as you demand I share your kind of hate.

    I don’t feel superior to other British people, thanks, I don’t share your need for that kind of thing. Shocking for you, I know.

  22. Derick Tulloch

    Indeed it is
    2011 Census, National identity question
    Orkney Population 21,349. Scottish identity only 13,324 (62%)
    Shetland Poplulation 23,167. Scottish indentity only 13,0874 (59%)
    All Scotland figure Scottish identity only 62%

  23. Leon Wolfeson

    So I say polling, and then you try and use the Census.


    You’re a good dishonest propaganda-pusher.

  24. Lesmond Nyjacks

    Don’t bleat about “Chosen People” Leon/Laurie, are there no depths to which you will not stoop?

  25. Guest

    Ah yes, “silence” you scream at the Jew. How dare you post in a public thread. That’s “depths” you to, apparently.

    You’re still looking for a magical Laurie I see, Lord Blagger, as you **** over more threads and oppose self-determination now, I see.

    After all, your beloved Reich didn’t allow it.

  26. shaunthebrummie

    cameron and milliband fell for the snp bluff regarding the referendum..the snp knew the scots never had the balls for independence and paying their own way…just tricking more english money out of the treasury….and cameron is your typical jock on the make…and should be sent back to his ancestors homeland…

  27. shaunthebrummie

    England needs rid of the parasitical celtic fringe…and a period of pro english policies to be pushed through..coupled with deceltification…now i’d vote for a pro english party

  28. Leon Wolfeson

    Ah yes, “deceltification”. No doubt followed by “dejewification”, etc.

  29. shaunthebrummie

    the jews are not as much an enemy to england,as the and mini scots…rid england of these and their undesirables draining resources out of england….parasites that they the celts are…

  30. Leon Wolfeson

    “as much”.

    So we’re on the list, right. Along with the other undesirables.

    “First they came…”

  31. shaunthebrummie

    the jews are an enemy of the white christian…go on youtube and watch the neo nazi jews spout their bile against christians…..

  32. Leon Wolfeson

    You know, it’s lovely when anti-Semites stand up and spout off what’s clearly nonsense. Youtube, right.

  33. shaunthebrummie

    have you looked….

  34. Leon Wolfeson

    I see you and your hate for me, yes.
    Yes, I am Jewish if you didn’t notice.

  35. shaunthebrummie

    and should i care if arabs legally defend themselves..why aren’t you living in israel

  36. Leon Wolfeson

    I’m British, not Israeli.

    As you call Hamas’s terrorism “legally”. You’re a ned.

  37. shaunthebrummie

    i’m english and could not give a shit what happens in the middle east…to whoever…if they kill each other….so f*****g what..problem solved

  38. Leon Wolfeson

    That’s nice, as you identify with a region against your country, as you praise the blood you love so much.

    No wonder you like Hamas.

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