Alastair Osborne points out that the SNP’s pledge not to let the Tories in crumbles under scrutiny.
The SNP would never ever put the Tories into government.
The SNP plan to take sufficient seats in the 2015 general election to hold the balance of power at Westminster and then hold Scotland hostage. But unlike most hostage takers they have released their demands in advance.
Scotland will be denied a Labour government unless Labour agrees to locate any Trident replacement outside of Scotland and down the coast a few hundred miles. The SNP would be prepared to deny Labour the majority it needs to raise the minimum wage, bring in the Living Wage, ban exploitative zero hours contracts, guarantee jobs for young people, build the social housing we need, freeze energy bills, raise the top rate of tax to 50%, tax bankers and bring in a mansion tax.
Scottish Labour’s task between now and the General Election is to persuade voters that the choice they face on May 7th is a simple one between a Labour Government or another Tory one. It is not a referendum on Trident.
We have also to get over the message clearly that Alex Salmond and a jolly band of SNP MPs will not secure a Labour government and benefits for Scotland. The only other time they have been in this position was in 1979 when they chose to use their numbers to bring down the Labour Government in a vote of no confidence and force a general election that brought in Margaret Thatcher.
Now we are to believe that they would never support a Tory government and, if their demands were met, they would prop up a Labour government in a hung Parliament on a basis of confidence and supply. They are hoping that their record on confidence motions has been forgotten and as for supply, this is the party that takes no part in votes on legislation that doesn’t affect Scotland.
The truth is that the SNP and supporters of Scottish independence have spent the last 70 years doing everything they can to prevent Labour being in government.
The SNP opposed the Attlee government most associated with ‘old Labour values’ because they didn’t like the sharing and pooling of resources approach of an NHS and single welfare state across the whole of the UK. They ignored the achievements of the Wilson years – the Open University; the abolition of capital punishment; legalisation of homosexuality; and the Abortion Act passed thanks to Government support. What did the Wilson years ever do for us?
The SNP brought down the Callaghan government and forced the election that gave us Thatcher. They were able to do this because traditional Labour values meant nothing to them in the 1970s (or in any other decade). An in-depth survey of the burgeoning SNP membership in the 1970s found that 80% did not identify in any way with social class and less than 1 in 4 saw social reform as a primary objective.
No surprise then that they remained unimpressed by the achievements of Labour governments post 1997. They turned their nose up at Labour’s devolution package while grabbing the advantages it offered to them. They set at nothing Labour’s record of tackling pensioner poverty, lifting children out of poverty, staying up all night to secure a national minimum wage (while the SNP MPs were safely tucked up in bed), doubling the aid budget, and bringing in sweeping equality legislation.
The successes of the Labour-led Scottish Executive like free bus passes, renewable energy targets and improvements in schools and hospitals were erased from memory or the credit taken as if it had been them.
Nicola Sturgeon has claimed that in the event of them holding the balance of power at Westminster, “You won’t need to have voted Labour to keep the Tories out, because that’s what we’ll do… the SNP will never, ever, put the Tories into government.”
If that’s true then their demands of Labour in return for support are meaningless. They would never bring down a Labour government and let the Tories in.
But if they are serious about their conditions of limited support then that means they most certainly would repeat 1979, vote down a Labour government that didn’t roll over to all their demands, and let the Tories in.
The message must be clear to the Scottish electorate. The only way for Scotland to be sure of benefiting from a progressive government committed to social justice.
The only way to be sure of getting the Tories out, is to vote Scottish Labour in May.