Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Is Ed really that stupid?

Labour’s current position seems to be that, if they get an opportunity to form a government after the election, they will negotiate nothing with the SNP-led group, and simply lay the Queen’s Speech before parliament and defy the SNP to vote against it.  We know, of course, that the Tories will vote against any government programme put forward by Labour, even if they agree with the entire content, and that Labour would return that ‘favour’.  But it’s not a very grown-up approach.  The expectation that the SNP-led group would behave in a more adult fashion is entirely reasonable, although it doesn’t exactly set the bar at a very high level.
But would they really include the whole of their programme, unaltered from the manifesto, which is what they are suggesting, even if they know that there are elements of it (such as Trident renewal) which would more or less compel the SNP to vote against?  As far as I’m aware, there is nothing preventing any government from introducing measures not mentioned in the Speech at a later date; just as there is nothing preventing them from not bringing forward measures which were included.  For all the fuss about the importance of agreeing the programme as a whole, it’s little more than a set-piece debate, with little real relevance to the day by day legislative programme which follows.  Why make it impossible to get through when it can so easily be a Speech which can be passed?
The SNP laid a good precedent for minority government from 2007 to 2011.  They avoided bringing forward any part of their programme on which they knew that they would fail to get a majority (which is why they had to wait until 2014, in the second term, for the referendum), and did deals on a case by case basis for the rest of their programme.  It constrained their legislation, but enabled them to govern effectively.
So, would Labour really be stupid enough to include a commitment to renew Trident (to pick the obvious example, but there are plenty of others) in the Speech, or would they be sensible enough to leave it out, and simply introduce it later in the parliament when they know that they can rely on the Tories to get it passed?  Including everything would avoid accusations from the Tories of trimming their programme in the light of the parliamentary arithmetic, but that's no different to what the Tories themselves did after 2010.  Or what any intelligent government would do.  And limiting the content of the Speech doesn't even require any negotiation with the SNP, merely the application of a little bit of common sense instead of machismo.  

I really don’t believe that Ed is that stupid (and if he is, then he shouldn’t be Prime Minister anyway).  Which leaves the other alternative – they really do believe that the electorate are stupid enough to fall for their bluff.


Anonymous said...

Well pointed out. Perhaps the most revealing thing of this whole scenario is how rotten to the core politics is in the UK, as indeed,is the UK itself.

Anonymous said...

Will be interesting to see if Trident becomes a sticking point if the SDLP will still support Labour? In the last parliament the three SDLP MPs took the Labour whip. Like the SNP they want to end the Union and are against Trident.