If I had a pound for every time someone said they’d like a Labour-SNP-Green coalition, I’d qualify for Cameron’s millionaire tax cuts. There won’t be a grand coalition – not because Labour is opposed (I’m sure some MPs are) but because both the SNP and Greens ruled it out long ago. And why they did that is worth discussing.
In an interview last week, Nicola Sturgeon referred to Ed Miliband as “slightly weak”. Later she said the SNP would “keep [Labour] honest” and that without them Labour was a “carbon copy” of the Tories. But if Labour and Tories are the same (they’re not), why rule out working with one but not another?
But more importantly, who goes into serious negotiations by slagging off their potential partner as “weak” and dishonest? In the US they call it ‘trash talking’ – insulting your opponent ahead of combat. It’s almost like the SNP want to antagonise Miliband and create a bad atmosphere before any talks take place.
Let me spell this out. I don’t think Nicola Sturgeon or Alex Salmond want Miliband to be Prime Minister. It would wreck the illusion that Scotland can only prosper and survive independently without working with Westminster. If the SNP and Labour managed to work together it would be the end of that illusion.
Furthermore, the SNP’s ultimate goal still remains independence. Is that achievable more under a Tory government intent on drastic cuts, or a Labour government they could work with? It doesn’t take a genius to put 2+2 together. The Tories are intent on juxtaposing Sturgeon with Miliband, and the SNP are intent on helping them.
This illustrates a broader point. The Greens and SNP are committed to Proportional Representation voting but not its outcomes because that would require compromise. In a PR coalition they would be junior partners and wouldn’t be allowed to get everything they wanted. That’s how it works when only a small proportion of people vote for your agenda.
And yet, both Nicola Sturgeon and Caroline Lucas have ruled out a formal coalition because they know neither their party nor their voters are in any mood for compromise. They wouldn’t be able to survive a PR voting system if they went into a coalition.
This also explains their conflicting demands. Earlier, Ms Sturgeon said a disagreement over Trident wouldn’t stop the SNP working with Labour on other issues. Just a few weeks later she said it was a ‘red line’.
The SNP aren’t serious about working with Labour – this is a charade so they can later walk away from any deal and blame Miliband for not offering everything.
The same goes for the Greens. They have spent far too long criticising the Labour party – especially to clinch ex-Labour voters – to go into a coalition where they would have to compromise. Natalie Bennett would end up in a war with Caroline Lucas.
But while the Greens would benefit from Labour being in power (easier to tempt away disillusioned ex-Labourites), the SNP need Cameron back in power to make the final push for independence. Are they willing to sacrifice the fate of the English for their own political gain? We are soon about to find out. But the only way to ensure that Cameron isn’t PM is by voting Labour, not this fantasy ‘coalition’.