Last night, Ed Miliband confirmed that he would not do a deal of any kind with the Scottish National Party. In the event of a hung parliament, Miliband and his Labour Party would seemingly prefer that the Tories formed the next government than seek a confidence and supply arrangement with the SNP. Yes, you read that correctly, Miliband is apparently happy to condemn the voters to five more years of Tory cruelty. Thanks a lot.
If the Labour Party has a problem with nationalism, then it is a selective problem. Labour has traditionally relied on the support of The Social Democratic and Labour Party of Northern Ireland – an Irish nationalist party. During the Lib-Lab pact of the late 1970s, the SDLP supported the Labour government of Jim Callaghan but withdrew their support over Sunny Jim’s concessions to the Ulster Unionist Party that gave them more seats. The SDLP voted with the Tories in the no confidence motion that triggered the 1979 general election. Yet it’s the SNP that is still castigated for ‘ushering in’ the Thatcher regime. This is nothing but a myth. The last time I checked, the SDLP still wanted a united Ireland too. During the 2010 election, there was even talk of Labour doing a coalition deal with the Lib Dems, the SDLP, the Alliance Party and the Greens. This came to nothing.
The SDLP was formed in 1970 from two parties: Gerry Fitt’s Republican Labour Party and the smaller, but no less nationalist, National Democratic Party. The latter practised abstentionism and the former disagreed with that position. The Republican Labour Party had, itself, been formed from Fitt’s Socialist Republican Party and Harry Diamond, the sole representative of the Irish Labour Party north of the border, who’d left that party to join Fitt’s party. Confused? Don’t be. The joke going around at the time was “two one-man parties had become a one two-man party”.
Curiously, in the Northern Ireland Assembly, the SDLP refused to do a deal with Sinn Féin (the third largest party in the 1918 General Election) and is now quietly supporting the Democratic Unionist Party and Ulster Unionist Party at Stormont.
If the SDLP carries on at this rate, it will go the same way as Scottish Labour.
Labour also worked in coalition with Plaid Cymru in the Welsh Assembly from July 2007 to December 2009. It was called the One Wales agreement. My, what short memories we have!
The three main parties (and UKIP) seem content to alienate Scotland which, ironically, works against their best efforts to cling onto the decaying union. The attitude towards Scottish voters has been nothing short of contemptuous. It’s as if to say “If you vote SNP, we’re not going to listen to you”. It would seem that Labour is prepared to work with nationalist parties, as long as they’re not Scottish nationalists.
If the union is broken up, it will be mainly the fault of the three main parties (and UKIP) for whipping up fear and anti-Scottish hatred among English and Welsh voters.
Unionists: they can’t even shoot themselves in the foot properly.