Annabel for DFM!

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.


29 thoughts on “Annabel for DFM!

  1. We’ve seen what happens to parties that go into coalition with the Tories. There’s no chance the SNP or Labour will commit suicide in this way.

    • I think everyone who has responded by considering this solely from the point of view of Labour and the SNP is missing the point. If Labour and SNP end up with roughly the same number of seats, someway off an overall majority (and yes I know what the latest poll says), Annabel and the Tories will have a huge bargaining chip, which was the point my guest blogger was trying to make.

      She goes to Salmond and says give me DFM and a full coalition or I go to Gray and offer him supply and confidence. And she does the same with Gray. Either or both could rebuff her but it would be high stakes being played out. And both would probably have to go to the Lib Dems, paltry though their numbers might be, to secure their coalition support.

      It’s less about what the SNP and Labour think or want, but how the Tories may hold the cards when it comes to negotiations.

  2. Rearrange these words into a well known phrase or saying

    Chance Snowball’s Hell in

  3. Interesting note here burd.
    Setting aside the fact that these cuts would be made by any party in Uk parliament, I think there would be a slight discomfort on both sides should a coalition come about between the nats and Scottish Conservatives.

    If I seem to remember correctly the nats are not able to form a coalition from their internal policies, maybe you could clear that one up?

    Also this point that the Scottish Conservatives are Unionists, how would this go down with the public and members that a unionist party is seen to be propping up a nationalist party? For a start Salmond would not get his independence unless the majority of people voted for it on a referendum!

    It will be interesting to see what unfolds in the coming weeks although I do hope we do not end up with one AV and two a labour government in Scotland. Look at the mess they made with the Liberals and look at the mess they left the Uk!

    • The no to coalition with the Tories is a longstanding policy decision by the SNP but it was softened in recent years to allow joint council administrations.

      If the Tories were worried about being a unionist party seen to be propping up a nationalist party, wouldn’t they have blocked stuff in the last Parliament?

      And yes interesting times lie ahead… though if the most recent poll has any truth in it, maybe the Nats and the Greens better start being nice to each other again

  4. My we are getting a wee bit a head of ourselves. The people have not yet voted and it is the result that will decide who wil have the chance to form any government. I get the sense that this is really just a bit of mischievous nonsense for the very simple reason that the SNP do not need it, if they are the largest party (but short of a majority) they will run another minority government. How often does Salmond and Sturgeon have to say this. Lets remember that the SNP have shown themselves to be very shrewd operators over the last four years, why would they lose their good sense to go into coalition with the Tories.
    Sorry the whole idea is just silly.

  5. Absolute Heresy!!!!

    Firstly, McTernan is a blatant Labour Support – nothing he writes could be classed as journalism. His comments are always geared to boosting Labour, and this SNP-Tory coalition stuff is just propaganda trying to harm the SNP.

    Alex Salmond, the MSP group, the Party Members and the Voters would not stand for it. I would not stand for it. It would be suicide, and would kill the Independence movement stone dead.

    Granted, there are a few right-leaning SNP MSPs like Fergus Ewing, but the majority are on the left, and the idea that the likes of Nicola Sturgeon standing in Govan, Tricia Marwick in Glenrothes, Kenny MacAskill in Edinburgh Eastern ect would have any hope of being returned by their constituents in 2016 would be non-existent if they were to ally with such a toxic party full of policies which are alien to the vast majority of people in Scotland.

    Over this SNP supporters dead body.

    • And over many others I suspect!

      I do think it has an inkling of possibility but no more than that. And if Labour needs them be assured they will hold their nose too.

      Don’t think it would kill the independence movement stone dead actually but that debate is for another time! As for John McTernan, yes he is Labour, but he is critical of his ain, particularly the non-reformist Scottish labour tendency. And actually I think he writes very well, even if I don’t often agree with what he writes. He isn’t a journalist, he is a commentator. I’m sure “they” think the same of Joan McAlpine, George Kerevan and Duncan Hamilton…

  6. Surely this well never happen! It would be a gift for Labour in 2016.

    If the SNP do win and Labour have a leadership change they would be facing two rival parties (SNP and Lib Dems) in power with the Tories, which plays to Labour’s current campaign in a definite manner.

    Add into this the fact that even if the SNP win this time they face making unpopular cuts anyway – this coalition would make it unpopular TORY cuts.

    Surely nothing would derail any steps the SNP want towards independence than resurrecting the Tartan Tory jibe?

    • You make an important point about the cuts – wouldn’t a coalition also give the SNP cover to blame the Tories?

      Perhaps not…

  7. Where exactly is the SNP and Tories in coalition in Local Government?

    It is a fairytale Labour like to spin to hide their several grand alliances with the Tories to keep the SNP out.

    In West Lothian, there is a Tory provost who refuses to support Labour but that is a very different thing from being in coalition with the SNP who form a working majority with Action to Save St John’s councillors.

    Good to see Salmond continue to rule out the prospect on Newsnight last night and even better to see that it looks increasingly unlikely he’ll need any help from the Tories anyway!!!

    • I believe there is a coalition in East Ayrshire. The rules were certainly changed at the 2007 SNP conference to allow it (at least at local Government level). Nothing to stop a similar conference in 2011 to change the rules to allow one at Holyrood.

      • ‘fraid not – SNP Minority Administration.

        I suggest you all take a look at the following link which is COSLA’s (that bastion of nationalist thinking) listing of political control for each council in Scotland.

        You will find there are ZERO coalitions involving the SNP and Tories but no less than FIVE involving Labour and Tories.

      • I was waiting for someone to point this out! Well done Garry. There are supply and confidence arrangements between SNP and Labour in local authorities but nothing formal. Judging by all the comments it is still anathema to the SNP and I think folks have made their opinion on even its potential, very clear.

      • It’s not a coalition – it’s a supply and confidence. The Tories got ceremonial positions – Provost etc – in return for crucial votes. Same thing in reverse in Dumfries and Galloway I think (though no doubt if I’m wrong my pops will appear to sort me out)

  8. Some good points. I agree that there will be some form of agreement between the SNP and the tories – whether its full coalition or not, I dont know. But the SNP dropped their bar to working with the tories at local government level in 2007, and they could do the same now. If the Lib Dems could hold a special conference to confirm their coalition deal, I’m sure Alex could persuade his acolytes to back him on this.

    What thsi means for the NEXT election is intriguing. Labour have been saying this time that a vote for the SNP is just what the tories want (even without coalition/confidence&supply) what a more formal arrangement could do? I wonder if Alex would then step down say a year before the next election, and allow another leader to take over and take the flack? He cant go on for ever, can he?

  9. It will NEVER happen, if I wore one my hat would never be in jeopardy of being eaten! How many times must Alex Salmond say outright that an SNP – Tory coalition will never be an option AT ANY COST!

    • I’m beginning to think all the Nats doth protest too much! Ha!

      And I’m going to buy a job lot of hats for 8 May…..

      • Well you better hope you have plenty of summer weddings to attend, as this will be their only outing. I’ll see your HA! & Double it…

  10. SNP supporters would never allow it, it’s against the SNP’s constitution to go into coalition with the Tories, and to be perfectly honest, I don’t think there is any need for it to happen. As Big Eck said on Newsnicht tonight, minority government would be his second preference behind a majority government, particularly as it allows for speedier decision making.

    Quite simply, it won’t happen. Especially if this new poll is even slightly close to the mark!

    • This is a fallacy. It is not against the constitution, it is against agreed policy. Which policy was relaxed by National Council to allow local authority administrations and accommodations to be formed. So no reason why it couldn’t be done again if staying in power was more important? What if Annabel says you can have your referendum if you let us in? Hmm?!

      • Hmmmm…. Getting a referendum doesn’t guarantee independence. It’s very tempting, but I think I would have to say “beware of Tories bearing gifts”. Besides, look what happens to parties when they go into coalition with the Tories- I don’t want the SNP to become public enemy number one!

  11. who has the most seats though? that’s the crucial detail missing from yr post.

    mcconnell has set the precedent that the party with the largest number of seats gets the opportunity to form the government. i dont see any circumstances where labour or the snp could possibly argue they had any grounds to form the government if they had less seats than the other.

    it may be theoretically possible, but the political reality is it would never be accepted.

    • Ah but read John McTernan yesterday in the Scotsman – I reckon whoever wins the popular vote would have a case to make or would at least try to stay or take power. We could be in territory of Labour still winning more seats – yes even on poll ratings like the Times and Scotland on Sunday – but SNP easily winning the popular vote. It will be fascinating whatever happens!

  12. Don’t be silly

    • Not me – a friend. We had a chat about it yesterday and got into this territory. I was guffawing so challenged them to write the post!

      But hey, the policy was relaxed once, it can be again….

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