SNP MP calls for UK Conservative-Lib Dem coalition to continue for a further year

In a stunning piece of self-interested and unprincipled political hypocrisy, Angus Robertson, SNP MP for Moray and leader of the SNP group at Westminster, is calling for the Conservative-led Westminster coalition to continue in government of the UK for a further year, delaying the 2015 General Election..

This is the party whose independence prospectus is based solidly on:

  • the claim of a democratic deficit for  Scotland in the election of Conservative UK administrations;
  • the claim of so alien a political philosophy in such administrations that Scotland will not grow until it is free of them.

Belief is not beggared in hearing of this. It is demolished.

The Robertson argument is also a breathtaking piece of reverse colonialism.

The entire United Kingdom is supposed to delay its General Election – already to run to a full five year term – because it would make things simpler in negotiations following a putative Yes vote for Scottish independence in September 2014.

It would mean the UK paying Scotland’s bills for another year after the country’s rejection of it. Would that be electorally acceptable in the continuing UK?

Such a delay would have to have been enacted before the independence referendum vote, with UK parties already in campaign mode – regardless of the outcome.

With the polls refusing to move, the probability – not the certainty – is for a No vote.

Yet, in the less likely possibility of a Yes vote, the entire UK – including Scotland – is to accept a year-long continuation of a government continually reviled by Mr Robertson’s own party.

So much for the vaunted compassion for those afflicted by the indefensible bedroom tax and by child poverty.

It can all carry on for a sixth year simply because it might suit the SNP if there were a Yes vote. The poor are of lesser account. This is unprincipled.

And if, as is more likely, there were a No vote, Scotland and the whole of the UK would, in the SNP’s eyes, be condemned to carry on for another year under the rule of a government which that party purports to see as damaging the economic prospects of the entire UK.

There is another angle to this.

The recently published White Paper on independence declared that the Scottish Parliament would continue in its present size of 129 MSPs.

With a population of 5.3million, Scotland has 129 MSPs – which is 41,085 of the population for each MSP.

The UK has a population of 63.23 million and 650 MPs – which is 97,247 of the population for each MP – over twice as heavy a representative load and for the parent government.

Apart from Mr Robertson’s comfort that it is acceptable for the tail to wag the dog, this nakedly hypocritical proposition will not be without a hefty degree of protectionist self-interest for him and his ilk.

There will be redundancies amongst both MPs and MSPs in coming to internal party decisions  – in each of the parties – on who represents which constituency in a first election to a putative independent Scottish parliament.

Every devolved Scottish administration since devolution may have ducked enacting what was supposed to be an early reduction of the admitted over-provision of the number of MSPs – but an independent Scotland would immediately hit the buffers in internal party turf wars on this one.

It would seem that Mr Robertson is prepared to sacrifice the exposure of the entire country of Scotland to the perpetuation for a further year of a government to which he claims to be opposed on all possible counts – to give himself and his mates another 12 months on the Westminster gravy train.

There can be no credibility whatsoever in a claim that negotiations over an independent Scotland would be benefited by an exclusive 18 month long vulnerability to a government daily decried by the SNP as ill-disposed to Scotland.

If they believe what they say, Mr Robertson’s ridiculous notion would voluntarily expose Scot;and to an oppositional UK negotiating team for the 18 month duration to 24th March 2016; negotiating from the driving seat as the lead partner in the discussions.

With so many elements of the White Paper proposals in the fee of the UK, this would seem a suicidal hostage to fortune.

The alternative would have to be preferable, if the SNP mean what they proclaim as disdain for the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.

This would be seven month negotiations with the current Conservative-led coalition which the SNP claim to be inimical to Scotland; and 11 months negotiation with a hypothetically Labour-led administration which the SNP would normally appear to prefer.

On the other hand, perhaps this means that the SNP do not actually see the Conservative administration at Westminster as quite the demonised fashion that suits them politically?

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Related Articles & Comments

  • Let’s look beyond Newsroom’s spittle-flecked keyboard and let people decide for themselves, shall we?

    What Robertson actually said on ‘The Week in Westminster’ was :

    “Will there be a UK general election in 2015? That is actually an issue for the UK Government to consider.”

    “I think there is a very good case for putting the UK general election back by a year.”

    “The reason why I say that is because, of course, a Yes result in Scotland will lead to a very, very intense period of negotiation between the UK Government and the Scottish Government – transitioning Scotland from a position within the UK into the EU, Nato, the United Nations and agreeing a whole series of other important measures.”

    “I think it is going to be very important for decision-makers at Westminster to wake up to the consequences of the Yes vote and why it will be in their interests to have a grown-up relationship with the government and the people of Scotland.”

    “Perhaps being diverted by a general election in the middle of that process is certainly something one should be thinking about.”

    So it was more of a ‘suggestion’ – made, I suggest, a trifle tongue in cheek. He has a valid point; in the event of a YES vote it may be hard to find Scottish candidates for a one-year stint at Westminster. Probably a bit cheeky though, and said with every expectation of provoking a reaction.

    Mr Robertson later clarified his position, saying: “My key point was that the Westminster parties all need to respond constructively to a Yes vote – while these matters can always be considered, my view is that the May 2015 UK general election obviously can and should proceed.”

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 15 Thumb down 17

    Longshanks November 30, 2013 3:24 pm Reply
  • Is there really no news from Argyll at all?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 16 Thumb down 16

    Longshanks November 30, 2013 3:32 pm Reply
  • “It would mean the UK paying Scotland’s bills for another year after the country’s rejection of it.”

    Given that Scotland is not due to achieve independence until 2016, how will the date of the next general election have any effect on the financial situation? I would also point out that Scots pay considerably more per capita into the UK than any of the other UK nations so we more than pay our own way.

    Presuming the 2015 elections do go ahead, what happens to the Scottish MPs in 2016 when Scotland becomes independent? Is there not a possibility that a second general election will need to be held at that point? Angus Robertson’s comment may have been partially tongue in cheek but it does highlight the difficulties associated with the 2015 date if Scotland has voted for independence.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 15 Thumb down 9

    Andrew Fletcher November 30, 2013 5:13 pm Reply
    • The ‘tongue in cheek’ escape route simply won’t cut it with this one.
      It strikes us that the call for our General Election to be delayed for a year – with the reasons given being some notion that this would make negotiations simpler, may be laying the foundations for an excuse to cover a far longer gap to independence than the 24th March 2016 scheduled on the White Paper.
      In the event of a Yes vote and if, as it is more than probable would be the case, we were not ready to fly solo as March 2016 approached, it would be Westminster’s fault again.
      They had been told to delay the General Election [which of course they cannot responsibly do]; and had they done so all would obviously have been well. Aye, right.
      And the longer it actually took, the longer the continuing UK would pay.
      Don’t forget that the set 18 months is not just for negotiations on all fronts – it is for establishment. All of our key operational systems would have tp be created, tested and ready to go into reliable operation on 24th March 2016.
      The notion that we could sort of go independent on that date while fiddling around for some several years after that to catch up with the bulk of what has to be done would require the cooperation and tolerance of our neighbour nations remaining in the UK. Why would they do that? They would have their own new furrows to plough and they will not be wasting any time getting on with that.
      Former Prime Minister, John Major, has produced the most telling of descriptions to date of the sort of independence planned in this prospectus.
      Speaking of the White Paper’s commitment to cede fiscal and monetary policy independence to the Bank of England in return for having it act as our lender of last resort and including us in the sterling zone, Mr Major said: ‘There can be no half-way house; no quasi-independence underpinned by UK institutions’.
      In one succinct sentence this nails the essential childlikeness of the prospectus for the referendum.
      It’s like any kid threatening to leave home but needing to hang on to the core security of the family at the same time – and we’ve all done it.
      ‘That’s it. I’ve had it. I’m off. I want the money for my pocket money, birthday and Christmas presents until I’m eighteen. I’ll have a car by then and you can insure it because you’d have had to do that anyway. Oh and I’ll need to keep my room for when I pop back at weekends to do my washing and if I’m sick.
      ‘But I’m going to be an independent adult. I can make my own mind up and take my own decisions. If I want to stay out late, that’s up to me. If I have friends round that you don’t like, you won’t be there to see them.
      I’ve worked out the money and I can do this. A few of us are starting a band. We’ll be amazing. In no time at all, you’ll be asking me for a sub.
      ‘And don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine. I know what I’m doing. And if you want that painting Granny left me, you can buy it off me.’
      Real independence is standing on your own two feet, taking the hard times and building anew.
      Patrick Harvie [with the backing of some eminent economists well disposed to the SNP] is much nearer the heart of it than the SNP Scottish Government in arguing for a Scottish currency. Some of us might hate that if it happened but it is philosophically consistent and speaks to a genuine belief in Scotland’s ability to make it alone.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 24 Thumb down 13

      newsroom November 30, 2013 5:41 pm Reply
      • The increasingly inane drivel Newsroom produces is frankly really sad.
        Does anyone have a political brain there?
        John Major’s axe and grinding stone is immense why can you not see this?

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 9

        Ian Anderson December 1, 2013 3:35 pm Reply
        • Now now, don’t be cheeky – this is part of newsie’s well known campaign to, in her own words “understand and live by the principle of objective fairness.” It’s a very laudable enterprise.

          Unfortunately however, she doesn’t seem to understand what exactly this priciple means, but if we can keep reminding her that she said this, she might actually look up the words that constitute the phrase, and somehow, against her own instincts, decipher the meaning.

          Or then again, maybe not.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4

          Kassandra December 2, 2013 11:04 pm Reply
    • “It would mean the UK paying Scotland’s bills for another year after the country’s rejection of it.”

      You’re beginning to sound like Katie Price Newsie…!

      Some facts to back up this assertion please…

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 3

      Barmore 2 December 3, 2013 4:55 pm Reply
  • In the (hopefully unlikely) event of Yes vote perhaps separation could be delayed until 2020 if he thinks it should coincide with the UK General Election.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 18 Thumb down 11

    Lundavra November 30, 2013 5:27 pm Reply
    • In the increasingly likely event of a Yes vote win there wouldn’t be any degree of physical separation – unless whatever rUK ends up being called leaves EU – would all still be under EEA/EFTA umbrella without rUK EU membership meaning little/no trade barriers.
      Had a thought myself a while ago, why not just extend term of current Scottish westminster MPs until actual independence? there are doubts in my mind how active those MPs might be BUT it could smooth transition if they weren’t spending their time campaigning for their westminster seat & helping the new political reality grow instead while still representing Scottish seats.

      Spend money on a UK general election campaign in Scotland after Yes winning OR spend same money helping to sort out the new reality in Scotland …. which one seems a bit daft?

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 9 Thumb down 17

      Iain December 1, 2013 11:12 am Reply
  • I am still reading my way through the white paper
    One of the first impressions that I got was that the timetable is unworkably tight and badly thought through.

    In the unlikely event of a Yes victory there would be 18 months to complete the most complex negotiations to untangle the legal, financial, military and political relationships that currently bind us together. Then, there would have to be the horse trading over the costs and financing of it all. Finally there would have to be the drawing up of new treaties, arrangements & agreements with the UK, EU, NATO, UN and many others.

    In the middle of all of this falls a general election and a probable change of government & at the end of it a further election to the Scottish Parliament.

    All of this was known when the timetable was drawn up.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 27 Thumb down 11

    Bob Chicken November 30, 2013 7:33 pm Reply
    • Oh, I don’t know, it would be a shame if poor old Alex was voted out of office before he could manage to get rid of the Queen and get his own picture as founding Head of State on the new Scottish Euro notes and coins?

      I think the English should hold back their election for him, it’s the least they can do when he’s goung to save them all that money!

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 11 Thumb down 15

      Andrew Argyle November 30, 2013 8:45 pm Reply
      • On the subject of Scottish Euro notes, does anyone remember the Euro designs once proposed for UK bank notes? Banal in the extreme, featuring images of Euro wonders – presumably in homage to the greater glory of the Euro State.
        I very much hope that – should Scotland ever adopt the Euro currency – we can continue to enjoy the rich variety of our own banks’ designs of notes. That is, if our banks’ identities haven’t disappeared in an orgy of globalisation and further disgrace.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 13 Thumb down 6

        Robert Wakeham November 30, 2013 10:05 pm Reply
      • Would rather have “poor old Alex” running affairs than both of Len Maclusky’s lap dogs

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 9

        john in kintyre December 1, 2013 2:38 pm Reply
    • Good for you as a ‘NO’ voter for taking the time to inform Bob.

      I know you are only half way through but does any of what you have read whet your appetite?

      I’ve not read it yet as I want a hard copy so I can put this bloody laptop down and properly immerse myself, it’s on order.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

      JnrTick December 1, 2013 11:14 pm Reply
  • Well noeee’s well most of you are — what’s is proposed by the BT brigade for the betterment of the Great Uk – well Westminster?
    Apart from who is on the bank notes Queen Camilia and King Charles – a frightening thought though lol
    Cameron — too scared to talk and upset Scotland and Osborne and Boris
    Clegg – too scared to upset Cameron
    Milliband- too scared to upset UNITE and Balls
    LAmont – too scared to upset UNITE and Milliband and Balls
    Sarwar —too busy given talks abroad. Might follow his old man by ripping up his British Passport if the job is right
    Davidson- no one listens to her anyway and is on the way out
    The lib dem from FIfe – as above except there is no one to replace him
    SoS for Scotland or Governer general – too scared of Nicola Sturgeon
    I wasn’t in Charge during the financial collapse Darling- charges big monies to talk.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 11 Thumb down 13

    H20 December 1, 2013 1:54 pm Reply
  • Angus really knows how to wind the Unionists up.

    Could Newsie analyse the potential occupations of Scottish Labour MPs and MSPs? How many will seek a Scottish seat,retire or try for one in rUK. I dont see Jackie Baillie making way for any MP, do you?

    Douglas Alexander is positioning himself as MSP fir Paisley South to become Labour Leader.

    What about Alan Reid? Will he stand in A & B against whoever the SNP candidate is? As probably the last Secretary of State for Scotland he’ll be due a good pension.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 5

    Graeme mccormick December 1, 2013 10:36 pm Reply
    • In terms of what happens in all parties in Holyrood, this would be a fun spectator sport – and, whatever actually happens, this is a great ‘parlour game’.
      Paul Murphy – who has been UK Defence Secretary, against Angus Robertson, who would be certain to take the Defence portfolio in an independent Scotland, would be interesting.
      Would sibling rivalry bring Wendy Alexander to a ‘return of the mummy’ in case Douglas made too much headway?
      Like you. it’s hard to see that Jackie Baillie would giving way to anyone, Why should she? She’s a very effective MSP.
      The Liberal Democrats might well back win back some Scottish seats to start their rebuild in Scotland. They wouldn’t have the problem of ousting sitting MSPs because there are virtually none of those.
      But they’d have some cracking candidates with high level experience – Danny Alexander, Michael Moore, [Alastair Carmichael, Jo Swinson, Charles Kennedy, Sir Robert Smith – and John Thurso who, not a Minister, has rebelled against party policy in supporting nuclear power [Doonreay was in his constituency]and in criticising 24-hour drinking and wind power. Could be fun.
      In many ways, these guys coming in with the experience of government in the major league and coming in to win seats rather than take them over, could be the real game changer on Scotland.
      The Tories have no one.
      Labour haven’t got anything particularly exciting to add to Douglas Alexander and Jim Murphy except Anas Sarwar.They’ve got a couple of Holyrood retreads in Cathy Jamieson and Margaret Curran who are capable enough but not fire setters.
      Others in all the parties can be talked up – but they need talking up and that itself rates them as not galvanic..
      Many of the Scottish Lib Dems are exciting MPs and their combined impact at the largely third rate Holyrood could be quite something.
      Then, with an independent Scotland likely to be outside the EU for some time [and this is not intended to provoke you – it’s just a logical probability], we might see the entry to Scottish politics of the Conservatives’ Struan Stevenson and Labour’s Catherine Stihler- both of whom are highly able and have made their mark on Brussels.
      There are genuinely distinguished names not mentioned here – like Labour’s senior MEP, David Martin and former PM, Gordon Brown MP and Alastair Darling MP; like the Lib Dem MPs, Ming Campbell and Malcolm Bruce… but the likelihood is that at their stage, they would not engage at the day to day level of MSPs.
      One of the strongest arguments for independence is the repatriation of frontline politicians to drag up the level of performance at Holyrood.
      For the SNP, Stewart Hosie is competent if not exciting but the others, at Westminster and Brussels are pretty run of the mill stuff. Pete Wishart makes a lot of noise but who would let him loose in government?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 9

      newsroom December 2, 2013 12:39 am Reply
      • “Labour haven’t got anything particularly exciting to add to Douglas Alexander and Jim Murphy except Anas Sarwar”

        Newsie, is your inclusion of Anas Sarwar genuinely a wind-up?

        Exciting? politically? Sarwar?

        I don’t think I’ve been so unimpressed by someone who is supposed to be a prominent politician since taking an interest many moons ago.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 4

        JnrTick December 2, 2013 10:54 pm Reply
        • Poor wee newsie is doing her best, trying to get some froth from spring water, but it’s difficult for her just now, what with her ongoing campaign to “understand and live by the principle of objective fairness.” and her lifetime project of nourishing her prejudices at the same time. Have a little sympathy please.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 7

          Kassandra December 2, 2013 11:13 pm Reply
      • You talk of individuals and the experience they could bring to Holyrood should Scotland vote for independence, but it was not Alex Salmond who won a majority for the SNP but their policies, what was in their manifesto.
        Lib Dems with excellent politicians such as Kennedy, Moore and Swinson, Labour with Murphy, Alexander etc., even the Conservatives all coming home must realise that it is a different electorate they and their respective parties must set their stalls up for, not a British electorate as the differences are apparent.
        Fail to reform, to offer something new tailored for this country, the three other main political parties that is, then they hand the initial early doors design brief to the SNP free of charge.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

        JnrTick December 2, 2013 11:15 pm Reply
  • It is a pity that George Galloway didn’t get voted in at the last election. Love him or loathe him, life around George would be exciting.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5

    Jim B December 2, 2013 11:10 pm Reply
    • Can’t say exciting is a quality I’m after in my politicians Jim, I hold far more weight to those with intellect, honesty, individuals with vision and having the courage to put ethics and morals at the fore of any policy.
      True though that Galloway is a real shrewdy, takes no nonsense, knows his stuff and not frightened to put his head above the parapet whether popular or not.
      I don’t think I’ll ever forget his wonderful performance at the US senate during Iraq, memorable indeed.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

      JnrTick December 2, 2013 11:23 pm Reply

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