Saturday 3 January 2015

A Tory-Labour unity coalition may be the only way forward after 7 May

Ian Birrell: The two parties have more in common with each other than with the insurgents. A national government would prevent a constitutional crisis

Peter A Bell's insight:

A few days ago there were a small number of people, including myself, positing the possibility of a Tory/Labour coalition after the UK general election. I initially asked the question in a spirit of half-mischievousness. But, having broached the idea, I became increasingly convinced that it is a very real possibility.

Now we have this possibility being explored in the British media.* It isn’t a joke any more. Kites are being flown. Elbows are being dipped in the waters of public opinion. A Tory/Labour coalition is now being discussed openly as a readily imaginable scenario.

More imaginable, I suspect, for people in Scotland who have the recent experience of seeing British Labour standing shoulder-to-shoulder with their Tory allies in a desperate effort to preserve the structures of power and privilege which define the British state. and from which both parties benefit greatly. The inexorable rise of the SNP and other Scottish parties is, in part at least, explained by the fact the distinction between the main British parties has been all but blurred out of existence.

Scotland has pretty much shrugged off the old politics of faux rivalries and interminable spin. In Scotland, politics is now much more about policies than parties. It is about issues, not sound-bites. It is about people, not personalities. The old Tory/Labour division is barely relevant. Increasingly, the division is between the British parties, which represent the old politics; the old order; and the old ways, and the Scottish parties, which represent the new, progressive politics that has arisen out of the positive, aspirational grass-roots Yes campaign.

Ian Birrell tries to put a gloss on this possible Tory/Labour coalition by portraying it as “government of national unity”. A nice bit of spin in itself. But he gives the game away with his use of pejorative, emotive and, some would say, downright insulting terms such as “insurgent” and “militant” to refer to those who are doing no more than using lawful democratic processes to challenge an unacceptable and untenable status quo.

By his use of such language Birrell reveals a British establishment that sees itself as besieged by political forces it neither understands, nor wants to understand - only to obliterate. The ruling elites of the British state are under threat. It is only to be expected that the British establishment will close ranks to defend the established order. Under such circumstances, a Tory/Labour coalition becomes not only imaginable, but almost inevitable.

But let there be no mistake, for all that this alliance will be represented as being for the benefit of the people of these islands, it has but one purpose. It is entirely about thwarting the democratic will of the people of Scotland. It is all about stopping the SNP and the tide of dissent that success for the SNP is likely to unleash.

British politicians are scared of the people. And that’s just the way I like it.

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  1. I suspect Cameron is preparing to negoiate the break up of the UK in 2016. In practise this means a (Con/Lab) government at Westminster. Ian Birrell ( a former Cameron speech writer) has been sent out to prepare the ground.

  2. "Under such circumstances, a Tory/Labour coalition becomes not only imaginable, but almost inevitable."

    This is wildly exaggerated stuff - if you actually believe that then get down to Ladbrokes because you'll get 51-1 on such a coalition happening. It's got virtually no chance in 2015 and the only reason you're writing an article from this premise is because it suits the SNP to fight the election on that basis (where we back the SNP as some grand two finger salute to the establishment).

    1. Your comment might make some sense if it was the SNP that was talking about the possibility of a Tory/Labour coalition. But it isn't. It is commentators across the political spectrum of the British media. Not only Ian Birrell in The Guardian, whose article I responded to here, but also the likes of the Financial Times and The Spectator.

      You also seem to have failed to notice that, while the SNP has explicitly ruled out any kind of deal with the Tories, British Labour has not. Even in the face of all this media speculation, they remain stubbornly silent on the matter.

      To anyone other than the most unthinking British Labour loyalist, this would give pause for thought.

    2. Not when the entirety of academia, the most sophisticated polling models we have available, the betting markets and just about every other reliable system for predicting political outcomes are saying the exact opposite of what you're arguing.

      You've ignored the existing evidence, taken a few fluff pieces by some journalists and come to the conclusion that it's "almost inevitable" we'll get a Tory-Labour coalition. And we're expected to take that as a genuine objective piece of political analysis?

      Aside from anything else, the latest electoral calculus prediction still gives an almost 50% chance of a Labour or Tory majority - and that's even with a predicted 49 seats for the SNP in Scotland.

    3. Feel free to share with us some of these studies which have examined the possibility of a Tory/Labour coalition and discounted it completely. It seems a shame to keep that sort of thing to yourself. Especially when British Labour and their Tory allies are so tellingly silent on the matter.

      The one thing that all polls indicate and most experts agree on is that the SNP is all but certain to hold the balance of power at Westminster after May. And the one thing anybody who didn't spend the whole referendum campaign with their head uo there arse realises is that the British parties see the SNP as the biggest threat to their cosy arrangements, and that the British parties will do absolutely anything to preserve the old order and the old ways.

      Given the undeniable fact that British Labour and the Tories joined forces in the referendum campaign and that they are still working together in places such as Gordon constituency, it is far from being outlandish to suppose that they might form a coalition to prevent the SNP exercising democratic power at Westminster.