You know that the pre-election campaign is straining to get to the real battle when what would happen if you vote SNP becomes a talking point among the MacComentariat. The weekend saw contributions to this argument from both The Observers Andrew Rawnsley and the Sunday Herald’s Iain MacWhirter. Not surprisingly, both had different ideas.
|Lynton Crosby's appropriation of old Australian attack posters didn't quite translate.|
Rawnsley’s argument is that a vote for the SNP plays into Cameron’s hands as he would be the beneficiary of the SNP taking scores of seats from “Scottish” Labour. MacWhirter’s argument is that both the SNP & Labour’s aims are (give or take a nuclear missile or several) not a million miles apart and that they might well be half way up the aisle. Unfortunately, things are not as simple as has been claimed.
If Cameron were to be the beneficiary of an SNP surge, then who’s fault is that then that this vintage of Labour is not to the Scottish palate? Lamont’s “Something for Nothing” speeches clearly chimed with Labour in England’s attitude towards cutting the benefits budget. Not to mention Balls signing up to Osborne’s scorched earth.
In among MacWhirter’s piece about Milliband & wondering how he could be more unpopular that Cameron, these policy positions are forgotten. I’d also suggest another reason why Milliband is not as popular among Scots as Cameron. There may be the thought that Milliband, although standing up to Murdoch & the energy companies, is still in a weak position within his own party.
About a year or two ago several commentators (the one that springs to mind is the Independent’s Matthew Norman, then writing for the Torygraph) said that for Milliband to be seen as prime ministerial, he had to get rid of Ed Balls. I think many people see him, Wee Dougie Alexander and Chukka Umuna at the top of the Labour tree as being evidence that Blairite Progress Groupers still hold a lot of influence at the top of Labour, in spite of Miliband’s slight leftwards turn. It was Balls & Umuna who have been trying to woo business types, and Balls who said at a city speech a couple of years ago that light touch regulation would return. Reportedly Alexander wanted a UK presence in Syria, fighting on the same side as the New Wahhabists ISIL.
That’s not the only thing MacWhirter seems to have not mentioned. Whilst mentioning Labour’s various policy agreements with Milliband’s Labour, MacWhirter seems to have not noticed, or does not mention, that relations between the SNP and Milliband’s Scottish outpost are, at best, Frosty. A better description would be that a state of animosity exists between the two parties. I don’t know what Milliband thinks of the idea of a deal with the SNP, given that he’s not ruling anything out and is in no position to do so (at this moment). Were he to indicate that this was a possibility, then I would suspect that “Scottish” Labour would be in open revolt at the idea.
In truth, nobody knows what would happen if the SNP performance matches the current polling. All that’s really certain is that neither Milliband or Cameron are attractive candidates for the job of Prime Minister and that these “Vote X & get Y” tactics is a surefire way of showing the desperation of the big two.