Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Lib Dem/SNP coalition at Holyrood?

Nicol Stephen, the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, has issued a statement in response to the SNP-run Executive's white paper on independence.

And a number of people are busy reading between the lines.

On his Blether with Brian blog, the BBC's Scottish political editor Brian Taylor says the Lib Dems:
remain leery of Mr Salmond and his SNP. But they argue that it is significant that the SNP are now canvassing constitutional options short of independence.

They say further that this takes the SNP onto LibDem territory - strengthening devolution within the UK.

They say all parties can talk around this objective.

Being a student of subtle politics, I instantly wondered whether this divergent response signalled a willingness for the Lib Dems to talk to the SNP about coalition at Holyrood.

This, I was told, was an issue for the SNP, as the incumbent Executive. Which certainly isn't a Yes. But it isn't exactly a blunt No either.

Longer term - probably much longer term - is it just conceivable that an SNP/LibDem pact could be created, perhaps once the issue of an independence referendum is tabled at Holyrood? And duly defeated?
Meanwhile, Tom Griffin writes on his Green Ribbon blog:
The SNP are clearly more flexible over the referendum issue than Labour are over fiscal autonomy. A coalition would allow the Lib Dems to pursue their distinct federalist vision, whereas at the moment they are in danger of becoming simply a redundant third unionist party.

It would also differentiate the Lib Dems from both Labour and the Tories at Westminster, and draw a line under Menzies Campbell's disastrous flirtation with Gordon Brown.
And, whatever you think of the SNP or independence, if the only way the Union can be maintained is by denying the Scottish people a vote on the subject, then it really must be in trouble.

1 comment:

James Graham said...

Who is denying the Scots a vote on independence? Two thirds of them voted against independence in the last Scottish elections, where the issue was debated. Two thirds of them say they oppose it in opinion polls.

I wish I understood this pseudo-democratic argument that if people don't want something, it is undemocratic not to give it to them anyway.