Labour’s Scottish gamble

Politico has an intriguing nugget on Scotland:

And while a serious revival in Scotland appears unlikely — one party official admitted only 15 seats north of the border are competitive for Labour, and that “we won’t win them all” — aides are bullish that Tory warnings about Starmer needing a backroom deal with the SNP to secure a parliamentary majority will not have the same potency in England that they have in the past.

“We have a simple message on that now,” the same Labour official said. “No. Deal. We don’t need one. We know the SNP wouldn’t vote down a Labour government, and so do they.”

This may well be the most expedient calculation for Labour given the past Conservative fear-mongering about a Labour-SNP coalition, and the possibility of winning a majority, either independently or with the Lib Dems.

If the SNP did end up holding the balance of power, however, it could unravel. Labour might instinctively prefer a minority government to coalition but it is the former which gives more room for maneuver to smaller parties. There is reason to think could use that freedom to bring down a Labour government.

For one thing, they have done it before, in 1979, and they might have serious reasons to do it again. If Labour does not expect to do well in Scotland, then the SNP is likely to retain a mandate for a new independence referendum. It will be under pressure from its own activists to use its parliamentary leverage to obtain one. If Labour is not prepared to concede at that point, the kind of day-to-day negotiation by which minority governments survive would become very difficult.



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