Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Please Support CounterPunch’s Annual Fund Drive
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We only ask you once a year, but when we ask we mean it. So, please, help as much as you can. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Scottish National Party and the British Elections

“I’m just facing up to reality. A minority government can’t govern without support from other parties. Either Ed Miliband will accept that or he won’t.”

-Nicola Sturgeon, SNP Leader, The Guardian, May 3, 2015

Nicola Sturgeon of the Scottish National Party has proven to be unimpeachable and powerful. Despite losing the referendum on Scottish independence by 10 points, the SNP has been rumbling along in its efforts to unsettle the Labour status quo and, more broadly speaking, that of British politics.

And rumbling with force and measure it is. Not since 1885 has a nationalist party – the then Irish Parliamentary Party – have such force. Membership is soaring, having reached levels around 110,000. In seven months, this has made the SNP the third largest political party in Britain. The Tories, as expressed by the likes of Thatcher’s old hand Norman Tebbit, fear that it will constitute a “puppet government” comprising Labour and the SNP. The she-demon Sturgeon is set to be the puppeteer, holding the strings of an ever malleable Ed Miliband.

The idea that elected government has to work hard for its decisions, seeking alliances, forging deals, is something that leaves a poor taste for British establishment politicians. It is the fearful refrain of comfortable majoritarian tyranny. “Such an arrangement could be unstable in the extreme, even without taking into account that securing votes in the House of Lords would make the proverbial task of herding cats look like child’s play” (The Telegraph, May 4).

Home Secretary Theresa May prefers the catastrophic scenario: any arrangement with the vibrant Scottish nationalists would trigger a constitutional crisis, the worst, in fact, since the abdication of King Edward VIII in 1936.

Showing how proportion expands as paranoia breathes down its neck, May suggested that the measure of such seriousness could be gauged by how the ruling classes were positively paralysed in wake of the monarch’s affair with American divorcee Wallis Simpson. “It would mean Scottish MPs who have no responsibility for issues like health, education and policing in their own constituencies [as they are devolved to the Scottish Parliament] making decisions on those issues for England and Wales.”

Rupert Murdoch’s swill churning centre The Sun, in its own merrily misogynist way, has taken to portraying Sturgeon in Tartan bikini straddling a wrecking ball. Channelling Miley Cyrus, the image of Sturgeon spells doom for the United Kingdom.

Foolishly, Labour’s Miliband has been rattled enough to suggest that any prospect of entering a coalition with the Sturgeon factor would be unthinkable. This, despite the prospects of an ignominious annihilation of Labour’s traditional grounds in the north which made a sitting Labour MP claim that he was “set to Defcon fucked”.

Undeterred by the prospects of this electoral liquidation, Miliband wanted to remind listeners about a certain clarity of thinking. “I want to be clear about this. No coalitions, no tie-ins… I’ve said no deals. I am not doing deals with the Scottish National Party.” Sturgeon has her Labour counterparts in the South worried about the succubi tendencies she has been accused of, feeding off Labour even as it seeks to win office. Vote for Labour, urged Miliband, because the alternative will allow a stampede of instability.

The policy platforms of the SNP show that it is no midget force in the scheme of British politics.

The foreign policy tendrils of the party are worth noting. It maintains a strong policy against the utility of Trident, the long in tooth nuclear submarine fleet that David Cameron has promised to overall should he win office. A sore, and a sucker, it bleeds resources from the sceptred isle, with an expected bill of £20bn issuing from the coffers to replace four Vanguard-class submarines. The total cost, however, is likely to come to £100bn.

Sturgeon has gone so far as to make the ditching of the nuclear submarine fleet essential to any coalition deal with Labour. “The SNP have made it clear that Trident is a fundamental issue for the SNP so we would never be in any formal deal with a Labour government that is going to renew Trident and we would never vote for the renewal of Trident or for anything that facilitated the renewal of Trident.”

Miliband’s own list of grievances against the SNP have been noted. “I disagree with them on independence. It would be a disaster for our country. There are other big disagreements: on national defence, on the deficit and a bigger philosophy question.” By means of contortion, Miliband suggests that the Tories and the SNP share a common thread of destructive ambition. “They want to set one part of the country against another.”

All of these are worth noting, because they make the Scottish upstarts seem light years ahead of their opponents. There is clarity about Europe and the role with the EU. (Britons may have a referendum on the issue of Europe and the EU, but Scots may think differently, triggering another visit on the independence issue.) There is a firm stance about the issue of recognising a Palestinian state.

Domestically, there is an insistence that austerity measures should be eased, if not scrapped altogether. Instead, an increase in the minimum wage is advocated. A 50 percent top tax rate is endorsed, with an extra tax on homes worth over £2 million while banking bonuses will endure new levies.

Five years ago, the SNP won a fifth of the Scottish vote, and only six of Scotland’s 59 parliamentary seats. The arithmetic odds have narrowed dramatically. Far from being a wrecking ball of history and the sacred union, Sturgeon may well prove to be a great reminder about forcing a complacent, tired establishment into the necessary discomforts of engaged democratic practice.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

More articles by:

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

October 17, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
When Saudi Arabia’s Credibility is Damaged, So is America’s
John Steppling
Before the Law
Frank Stricker
Wages Rising? 
James McEnteer
Larry Summers Trips Out
Muhammad Othman
What You Can Do About the Saudi Atrocities in Yemen
Binoy Kampmark
Agents of Chaos: Trump, the Federal Reserve and Andrew Jackson
David N. Smith
George Orwell’s Message in a Bottle
Karen J. Greenberg
Justice Derailed: From Gitmo to Kavanaugh
John Feffer
Why is the Radical Right Still Winning?
Dan Corjescu
Green Tsunami in Bavaria?
Rohullah Naderi
Why Afghan Girls Are Out of School?
George Ochenski
You Have to Give Respect to Get Any, Mr. Trump
Cesar Chelala
Is China Winning the War for Africa?
Mel Gurtov
Getting Away with Murder
W. T. Whitney
Colombian Lawyer Diego Martinez Needs Solidarity Now
Dean Baker
Nothing to Brag About: Scott Walker’s Economic Record in Wisconsin:
October 16, 2018
Gregory Elich
Diplomatic Deadlock: Can U.S.-North Korea Diplomacy Survive Maximum Pressure?
Rob Seimetz
Talking About Death While In Decadence
Kent Paterson
Fifty Years of Mexican October
Robert Fantina
Trump, Iran and Sanctions
Greg Macdougall
Indigenous Suicide in Canada
Kenneth Surin
On Reading the Diaries of Tony Benn, Britain’s Greatest Labour Politician
Andrew Bacevich
Unsolicited Advice for an Undeclared Presidential Candidate: a Letter to Elizabeth Warren
Thomas Knapp
Facebook Meddles in the 2018 Midterm Elections
Muhammad Othman
Khashoggi and Demetracopoulos
Gerry Brown
Lies, Damn Lies & Statistics: How the US Weaponizes Them to Accuse  China of Debt Trap Diplomacy
Christian Ingo Lenz Dunker – Peter Lehman
The Brazilian Presidential Elections and “The Rules of The Game”
Robert Fisk
What a Forgotten Shipwreck in the Irish Sea Can Tell Us About Brexit
Martin Billheimer
Here Cochise Everywhere
David Swanson
Humanitarian Bombs
Dean Baker
The Federal Reserve is Not a Church
October 15, 2018
Rob Urie
Climate Crisis is Upon Us
Conn Hallinan
Syria’s Chessboard
Patrick Cockburn
The Saudi Atrocities in Yemen are a Worse Story Than the Disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi
Sheldon Richman
Trump’s Middle East Delusions Persist
Justin T. McPhee
Uberrima Fides? Witness K, East Timor and the Economy of Espionage
Tom Gill
Spain’s Left Turn?
Jeff Cohen
Few Democrats Offer Alternatives to War-Weary Voters
Dean Baker
Corporate Debt Scares
Gary Leupp
The Khashoggi Affair and and the Anti-Iran Axis
Russell Mokhiber
Sarah Chayes Calls on West Virginians to Write In No More Manchins
Clark T. Scott
Acclimated Behaviorisms
Kary Love
Evolution of Religion
Colin Todhunter
From GM Potatoes to Glyphosate: Regulatory Delinquency and Toxic Agriculture
Binoy Kampmark
Evacuating Nauru: Médecins Sans Frontières and Australia’s Refugee Dilemma
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail