New research shows cracks in the Tories’ refusal to work with the SNP

Commons analysis reveals the extent to which the SNP and Conservatives voted together under the last Labour government


The supposedly ‘principled’ stance of the SNP and the Conservatives not to do a deal with each other under any circumstances after the General Election is today coming under strain.

New research carried out for Scottish Labour by the House of Commons Library has revealed the extent to which the majority of Conservative and SNP MPs found themselves in the same voting lobbies under the previous Labour government.

According to the data, between 2001 and 2005, a majority of Conservative MPs voted with a majority of SNP MPs in 64 per cent of all pertinent votes in the House of Commons. The figure for the 2005 to 2010 Parliament was 71 per cent.

When it came to votes on Finance Bills which enact budget measures, in the 2001-2005 parliament, 68 per cent of votes saw a majority of SNP MPs and a majority of Conservative MPs voting in the same way. In the 2005-2010 parliament this figure increased to 88 per cent.

Commenting on the analysis shadow Scottish secretary Margaret Curran MP, said:

 “Last week Nicola Sturgeon told people in England and Wales to vote for any party but Labour. With this evidence that they voted with the Tories the choice is clear – if you want rid of the Tories, you need to vote Labour in May.”

The figures come amidst more attempts from within the Conservative Party to woo the SNP ahead of a likely hung parliament.

Despite David Cameron’s assertions to the contrary Paul Goodman, editor of ConservativeHome, has this morning argued that Conservatives should be prepared to negotiate with the SNP by offering home rule for each of the UK’s nations. He concludes that ‘the Cameron/Osborne/Crosby trio ought to be just a little bit careful about how they handle Sturgeon and her party during the run-up to May 7’.

Goodman’s suggestion comes following a similar intervention last month by the former leader of the Scottish Conservatives Annabel, now Baroness, Goldie. Noting that throughout her time as leader, Alex Salmond’s minority government at Holyrood often relied on Conservative support to get measures passed, she told the Daily Record that the SNP’s readiness to work with the Tories at Holyrood but not at Westminster simply reeked of ‘posturing’ and ‘hypocrisy’.

And it cannot be forgotten that in 1979 it was the SNP voting against James Callaghan’s government in the confidence vote that ushered in 18 years of Conservative rule.

So as the election draws near, let’s not be fooled into thinking that Conservative or SNP promises not to work with each other after the election are grand statements of respectable principle.

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

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