Following Alex Salmond’s outspoken interview on the Andrew Marr Show last Sunday there have been a spate of articles in the various newspapers making much of Alex Salmond’s “threat” to use the SNP’s likely 50+ MPs to force the next (Labour) Government to give all sorts of concessions, not only to Scottish interests, but also to “progressive politics”.
There has been much wind and fury expended on this topic, but what all the commentators do seem to miss is that this is a problem entirely of the British Establishments own making.
After all the English Democrats and the Campaign for an English Parliament have been pointing out for nearly 15 years that what needed to happen, in order to make a level playing field for all the Nations of the UK, was an English Parliament, First Minister and Government, with at least the same powers as the Scottish ones.
There were no sensible or credible arguments against this proposal ever made, merely smear tactics, because it was not seen as being in the interests of either of the three leading parties! If that proposal for a proper Federal UK had been accepted there would now be very little difficulty in accepting SNP representation for Scotland.
The effect of having such a reform would have been to create a Federal United Kingdom, in which the powers and positions of all the various levels were crystal clear and legally binding. It would follow that had that been done, Scottish MPs of whatever colour would not have been able to vote on English-only issues. They would only have had the jurisdiction over the remaining issues reserved to the United Kingdom Parliament. In just the same way it is not for the Federal United States Congress to legislate for non-Federal matters which are subject to the States’ jurisdiction. So, for example, we have just had the State of Utah legislate to re-introduce the firing squad method of execution of criminals sentenced to death by their (States) courts. This is nothing whatever to do with the Federal Government and the Federal authorities have no jurisdiction over it whatsoever.
In the same way, had there been a proper Federal UK structure created, rather than a mish mash set up and maintained for what they thought was the convenience of the Establishment parties, Mr Salmond’s MPs would not have been in a position to vote on England specific taxes, part of the product of which could then be spent in Scotland, or to influence the English Government on what it did with the English NHS or English transport policy, such as the proposed building of the HS2.
It is the very absence of an English Parliament which makes it now seem quite unlikely that the Conservatives will form part of the next Government after May 7th.
I am looking forward with interest to hear what kind of diversion tactics they get involved in, in order to try and disguise the fact that the difficulty that they are going to be in is as much as anything a product of their own incompetence and lack of forethought! But then we have been with this very much before with the Conservatives, David Cameron appears to be someone with very little strategic vision and is as one commentator rightly pointed out “slapdash and complacent”. Well now, Mr Cameron, it looks like the Caper Caillie are coming home to roost!
Here is one of the articles I was referring to:-
SNP leader Alex Salmond has revealed he plans to hold Labour to ransom
A landslide for his party would allow him to dictate Ed Balls' first Budget
Mr Salmond also said construction of HS2 rail line must start in Scotland
Comments described as one of the 'scariest interviews' in political history
Alex Salmond has boasted that a SNP landslide at the General Election would allow him to demand that Ed Balls ends austerity
Alex Salmond vowed yesterday to hold a Labour minority government to ransom to secure a £180billion debt-fuelled spending spree.
Scotland's former first minister boasted that an SNP landslide at the General Election would allow him to dictate Ed Balls's first Budget as Chancellor – and demand that he 'end austerity'.
Mr Salmond also declared construction of the HS2 rail line would have to start in Scotland and Britain's nuclear defences be scaled back.
With polls pointing to a hung Parliament and the SNP on course to win dozens of seats from Labour, he said of last year's independence referendum: 'We haven't lost after all. If you hold the balance, then you hold the power.'
Tory Defence Minister Anna Soubry told him he had delivered one of the 'scariest interviews' in modern political history.
Boris Johnson increased pressure on Labour to rule out any post-election deal with the SNP, which is predicted to take as many as 50 of Scotland's 59 seats, up from six in 2010.
'Labour would be drawn to feed the beast,' he said. 'That's what they have always done. They have created the problems by trying to appease Scottish Nationalism. They have endlessly encouraged it rather than taking it on.'
The Conservative Mayor of London called himself an 'absolutely fervent unionist' and said he was 'very worried' the SNP was deliberately stoking resentment against the Scots in the rest of the UK. He condemned Labour for vowing to use a new levy on expensive homes in the South East of England to pay for public services north of the border.
'I was appalled by what [Scottish Labour leader] Jim Murphy had to say about despoiling London and the South East with property taxes in order to pay for Scotland,' Mr Johnson said. 'That's not going to promote good relations'.
With polls suggesting the SNP could hold the balance of power at Westminster – and fears a deal with Labour could break up the Union – Mr Miliband finally bowed to pressure from senior colleagues last week and ruled out a formal coalition with the Nationalists.
But he has refused to reject a 'confidence and supply' deal, which would see the SNP guarantee to vote for key legislation in the Commons in exchange for concessions. More likely still is the SNP negotiating with a minority Labour government on a vote-by-vote basis.
When asked by the BBC's Sunday Politics yesterday, Mr Murphy declined six times to rule out such an arrangement.
Mr Miliband will today travel to Scotland in a desperate bid to shore up votes, stepping up his warnings that an SNP surge would risk keeping David Cameron in power.
The latest poll suggests Labour is failing to stem the Nationalist tide, with the SNP 21 points ahead on 47 per cent.
The Conservatives last night unveiled an animated campaign video, featuring Mr Miliband dancing a jig as Mr Salmond 'calls the tune'.
Speaking to the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, the former first minister said he would work with Plaid Cymru and the Green Party in a 'progressive' alliance.
TERRIFYING! TORY ANNA LAYS BARE SNP THREAT TO BRITAIN
Anna Soubry launches a fierce criticism of Alex Salmond on the Andrew Marr show
Alex Salmond faced an extraordinary assault yesterday by Conservative MP Anna Soubry over his plan to hold Westminster to ransom. Here are highlights of their exchange on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show:
MISS SOUBRY: I have to say, I think [Mr Salmond’s] is one of the scariest interviews I have heard for a very long time.
MR SALMOND: Scary? Come on …
MISS SOUBRY: Absolutely! It’s not personal at all. I’ve met Alex a few times – he seems a very charming man, but absolutely terrifying.
The thought that we are in a position where you could be actually controlling, in the way you have described, this United Kingdom fills me with absolute horror. The audacity is astonishing.
There was a wonderful debate in Scotland. You lost it. We are a united kingdom; that’s what the people of Scotland wanted and because of the inadequacies of Labour north of the border …
MR SALMOND: But Anna …
MISS SOUBRY: You guys are now in a position whereby you would be this power broker.
MR SALMOND: So we haven’t lost after all then …
MISS SOUBRY: Exactly! It’s a back-door way of breaking up the Union. It’s really concerning.
MR SALMOND: I wanted Scotland to be independent. I wanted to leave Anna to her own devices in the House of Commons. She wanted us in the House of Commons. Now she’s complaining that we are going to have too many seats. I mean, goodness me …
MISS SOUBRY: This is really concerning for our democracy and for the safety of our nation as well, because of his views on Trident.
MR SALMOND: This is about a gateway decision on renewing the next generation of nuclear weapons, and that would be taken next year. It’s £100billion.
Anna wouldn’t be a defence minister under my formulation [of propping up a minority Labour government]. It’s nothing personal, I just have a fundamental disagreement. She wants the poor to pay. I don’t think we need the new nukes.
MISS SOUBRY: The real problem is this: Alex has made it very clear that, as far as he is concerned, there would be no deal with Labour unless there’s no renewal of Trident.
He has made that very clear. That’s true and honest to his own beliefs…
MR SALMOND: You couldn’t have coalition or confidence and supply, but a vote-by-vote basis is what comes up in the House of Commons …
Miss Soubry: No, no, no. Hang on a moment. When you and I were doing [BBC Radio 4’s] Any Questions, you said it was a red line for the SNP.
MR SALMOND: Yes, for a coalition or confidence and supply, obviously. Vote-by-vote is vote-by-vote …
MISS SOUBRY: We now have a situation whereby Labour is in real danger. There’s an absolute possibility that they will sell out on Trident, they will sell out on our defences. What chaos. Absolute chaos! Chaos.
MR SALMOND: My view is, confidence and supply we describe as possible; I think vote-by-vote is probable.
MISS SOUBRY: God, what a way to run a country!
MR SALMOND: Listen, I ran a minority government for four years …
MISS SOUBRY: Yes, but that was in Scotland. We are are a United Kingdom [Parliament] where we do defence and do other things as well.
He suggested the SNP could support a minority Labour government on a vote-by-vote basis even if it refuses to scrap the Trident nuclear deterrent, a previous 'red line' issue. A 'tartan bloc' at Westminster would 'move the Labour Party in a different direction', Mr Salmond said.
'I think there are lots of people – certainly lots of people in Scotland, but I think people across these islands – [who] are pretty fed up with the duopoly at Westminster and might want to see politics a bit more interesting, where parties have to work for their votes and justify things on a vote by vote basis,' Mr Salmond added.
Asked if Ed Balls would have to negotiate his Budget with the SNP, Mr Salmond replied: 'Yes, any minority government has to negotiate in order to win a majority for its proposal. That is patently obvious. To deny that is to deny reality.'
One of the SNP's many demands is to delay plans to tackle Britain's deficit by spending an extra £180billion over five years on the country's credit card. Treasury chiefs have warned that it would drive up debt.
Challenged to explain how he would respond to Mr Balls if Labour told him 'where to go', Mr Salmond said he would demand that the Scottish phase of the HS2 rail line be built first, rather than the London section.
'Let's say, for example, instead of this very, very slow fast-rail coming up from London, I think we should start [building] it from Edinburgh or Glasgow to Newcastle and I put that down as a Budget amendment,' he said. 'It would have substantial support in the North of England from the other parties and will carry the House of Commons. What does Mr Balls do then?'
Later, he told Sky News's Murnaghan programme: 'What I think is possible is a confidence and supply arrangement where we have a limited number of objectives and in return we would vote for Budgets.
'More probable is a vote-by-vote arrangement. We would move, or attempt to move, the Labour Party away from signing up to the Tory austerity agenda.' Miss Soubry said the possibility of Mr Salmond controlling a Labour government filled her with 'absolute horror'.
She told the Andrew Marr Show: 'That was one of the scariest interviews I've heard for a very long time … absolutely terrifying.'
Confronting Mr Salmond directly, she added: 'The audacity is astonishing. There was a wonderful debate in Scotland – you lost it. We are a united kingdom; that is what the people of Scotland wanted.' ...
Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps said: 'Thanks to Labour's collapse in Scotland the only way Ed Miliband will get to Downing Street is if he does a grubby deal with Alex Salmond.'
He added: 'In every vote … weak Ed Miliband would dance to Alex Salmond's tune – it would cause chaos for the country.'
Scottish Labour Party leader Jim Murphy (pictured) refused six times to rule out a post-election deal with the SNP
Labour's leader in Scotland refused six times to rule out a post-election deal with the SNP in a bruising TV interview yesterday.
The BBC’s Andrew Neil asked Jim Murphy repeatedly whether he would renounce a so-called ‘confidence and supply’ arrangement with the nationalists.
Both sides have made clear that there will not be a formal coalition with the SNP holding ministerial posts – but neither have ruled out a looser agreement, with the nationalists supporting Labour in certain votes.
Mr Murphy insisted he would ‘not get into further detail of a post-match analysis of a contest that hasn’t yet taken place’.
He said: ‘We are in this contest to win, not for a near draw.’ Asked again if he would rule out a deal with the nationalists, he said: ‘If we are the biggest party we will put our positions on the minimum wage, the living wage and much else besides, if the SNP vote for it, that’s nice.
‘If they vote against it that is their mistake because if we cannot get a majority in the House of Commons ... the SNP would be responsible for bringing down a Labour government.’
He went on: ‘We are trying to win an election, we are trying to win the majority, we cannot do that when the whole debate is about what happens after the election.
‘Let’s talk about public spending, how we make the UK stronger at home, how we eradicate poverty. Let’s have those big discussions, then let’s debate after the election what happens after the election.’
Mr Murphy, the MP for East Renfrewshire, has been leader of the Labour Party in Scotland for just four months.
He took over in the shadow of the independence referendum in which Labour’s performance took a battering and its former Scottish leader, Johann Lamont, was forced to resign.
Mr Murphy is highly regarded in the party and has tried to run a unity campaign based on tackling poverty and inequality.
But he is grappling with polls suggesting Labour – which won 41 out of Scotland’s 59 seats in 2010 – could lose almost all of its MPs north of the border in May.
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