In the wake of yesterday’s results, the debate is well underway about who should form the next executive at Holyrood.
Neal Ascherson wants an SNP-Lib Dem alliance:
Like it or not, the Lib-Dems (who more or less held their own in this
election) still guard the gate to power. They are thinking hard about
their options. For all their pro-Union distrust of the Nats, they
recognise that this election confirmed a powerful new impatience for
more (if not yet full) independence in Scotland. Their own programme is
for a radical expansion of the Scottish parliament’s powers. But the
stonily Unionist rhetoric of Gordon Brown during this campaign shows
what an uphill struggle this will be, a struggle in which the SNP is
their only conceivable ally. (Comment is Free)
Paul Linford wants a unionist grand coalition:
Salmond’s commitment to staging and winning a win a referendum on
Scottish independence by 2010 is a policy so dangerous and so utterly
wrong-headed both for Scotland and for Britain as a whole that he must
be prevented from ever being in a position to carry it out.
their differences on other matters, the future of the UK is an issue of
such importance that Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems should now
agree to form a Grand Coalition that reflects the unionist viewpoint of
the majority of the Scottish people. (Paul Linford)
It looks as if the unionist position on a referendum is now the same in Scotland as in Northern Ireland. That is that a referendum would kill off the nationalists for a generation, but only a fool or a knave would suggest actually holding one.
The alternative argument, that a referendum shouldn’t be held because the nationalists might actually win is democratically indefensible.
For the largest party to want to put its leading policy to a referendum is eminently reasonable, especially when recent polls show support for independence is broader than support for the SNP, and support for a referendum is broader still.
I don’t expect a unionist grand coalition. That would simply reduce unionism to the policy of a parliamentary faction, when it has been a convention underlying the party system as a whole.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see the responsible parties of stability opt for opposition, leaving the SNP to form a minority Government which they would do their best to undermine.
Perhaps Labour and the Lib Dems should remember that in 1988, their Scottish MPs signed the Claim of Right, which stated:
We, gathered as the Scottish Constitutional Convention, do
hereby acknowledge the sovereign right of the Scottish people to
determine the form of Government best suited to their needs, and do
hereby declare and pledge that in all our actions and deliberations
their interests shall be paramount.