No sooner have you had a pop, but along comes an election junkie, nay superior anorak, to rain on your parade. A first class guest post from Anon Anorak setting out why the burd is woefully wrong. Enjoy!
Annabel Goldie, Scotland’s next Deputy First Minister?
Many people may laugh at such a suggestion, but I think it is a very serious possibility and this is how it might come about.
It’s May 6th, the election is over and the results are in. As all the latest polls have predicted, Labour and the SNP are neck and neck. There are only a few seats in it. The Lib Dems have been reduced by at least half and there are only a few Green MSPs around. There is a return for Margo and another independent, newly elected MSP George Galloway. The Tories have seen their share of the vote fall, but have hung on to about a dozen MSPs.
On the face of it, it looks like another bad night for the Tories in Scotland and a damning indictment on the coalition Government in London. I am sure many people (including the Burd) would be expecting Annabel, in such circumstances, to be drafting a letter of resignation. However, she has a major card left to play and one that could turn it all around for the Tories in Scotland.
Annabel and her party hold the balance of power, as John McTernan pointed out in his article in yesterday’s Scotsman. A Lib Dem, Green and Independent alliance with either of the two parties is far from viable, leaving just the Tories.
So how could it work? Annabel and her team need to play hardball. They need to make it clear that they want to be in coalition and nothing short of. The obvious partnership is with the SNP. The Tories and the SNP have worked well together over the last four years, especially with the budget. With the Tories holding that crucial role as king-makers in much the same way as Nick Clegg’s Lib Dems did in 2010, then both Labour and the SNP will have to listen. Alex Salmond is not going to give up his job without a hell of a fight and Iain Gray will not concede as easily as Jack McConnell did in 2007. They will be prepared to do a deal.
It would seem extremely unlikely that the Tories and Labour would work together in a coalition, but Annabel only needs to use Labour as a bargaining chip in her negotiations with the SNP, the more likely partnership. If she demands full coalition partnership with the SNP and they wobble at the idea she can motivate them by threatening to give Iain Gray supply and confidence in return for Ministers and a first budget.
Faced with this possibility, I am sure the SNP and Alex Salmond would swallow an SNP-Tory coalition. They’d also find a way of fudging their party policy of not formally working with the Conservatives. They’ve been working with them in councils up and down the country and loosely in the Scottish Parliament. I doubt the majority of the general public would notice. The SNP would spin it in a way as to say that this is the only way for Scotland to move on.
You might be asking why the Tories would be so desperate to be in power. There are a number of reasons, firstly twelve years in opposition in Scotland have got them nowhere. They have fewer seats than in 1999 and a falling share of the vote. They need to prove to the people of Scotland they are not Thatcher’s Conservatives and eradicate the toxic stain that still sits on their brand as a result of that era. The only way they can do this is by being in power and passing legislation that is seen to have a positive impact, developing trust in the Scottish people.
It works for David Cameron too. It gives him a chance to say that the Conservatives are in power in Scotland, something few Tories thought possible following 2010 election. It would also deny Ed Miliband the opportunity to lay claim to a Labour revival.
Finally, it would probably save Annabel Goldie’s job as Scottish Conservative Leader, something that would be very much in doubt if they were confined to another 4 years of opposition. Annabel Goldie, Deputy First Minister? Looks a good bet.