The SNP will support a future Labour Government on progressive legislation. When it comes to painful austerity measures to bring down the deficit, they would force Labour to have the Conservative side to support them. That way, the SNP can paint Labour as the same as the Tories. Thus the hope will be to chase Labour out of Scotland, as the Conservatives have been as they hang on to one MP.
To read Sunny Hundal's analysis you would think that Nicola Sturgeon really wants a Conservative Government, to make the case for Scottish Independence that bit stronger. I disagree with his view:
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.
The bigger prize for the SNP is to play the game of removing Labour as any serious opposition to them north of the border - to dominate Westminster in a hung parliament and to win in the Scottish Parliament. Hence SNP encouraging the English to vote for the Green Party. Making Labour more dependent on the elected SNP MPs in parliament. In short, the SNP can try and take credit for any legislation that is progressive while claim Labour is working with the Tories on austerity measures.
The deputy SNP leader on BBC Radio 4 Today made clear this Easter Monday the SNP would support Labour on a bill by bill basis, even if the Conservatives have more seats. While this is being sold as keeping Labour honest to left wing policies, the honey trap should be obvious. Labour cannot be completely anti-austerity in government - the extent to which some measures will be done, in a bid to keep interest repayments down and credibility with the markets, will not be fully realised till after the election. Result is SNP can claim Labour are the Tories if they depend on the opposition to pass austerity measures. Ed Balls as Chancellor will be aware of the need himself to play this game himself - I predict the Blair Brown relationship will be nothing compared to the two Eds in Downing Street.
The Liberal Democrats had the most to gain in the leaking of Sturgeon's supposed comments that Miliband would be a weak premier, and that she wanted a Conservative government to make it easier for the SNP to argue for independence. They want to be seen as the honest broker in any coalition or special voting arrangement. Nick Clegg tried to position him as such in the debate: less cuts than Conservatives, less borrowing than Labour.
The opinion polls did not believe Nick Clegg, as Nicola Sturgeon resonated with people south of the border on progressive policies like zero tuition fees, and offering friendship with England to provide left wing policies. It is a poisoned chalice that many Labour supporters are willing to drink from in the hope that for once, a Labour Prime Minister has to stay on the left.
Government's are not immune to market's assessing risk regarding a high deficit, and the relative low interest payments on the national debt are not guaranteed. Britain never was a Greece as Cameron tried to claim, but that is not the same thing as saying high deficits are sustainable or desirable over the long term. That the coalition failed to cut as much as they planned helped the recovery we have had, rather than most of us have felt.
Will Ed Miliband be tough enough to deal with the poisoned chalice, becoming Prime Minister and make the case that if he fails it was Tartan Tories that had it in for him as he seeks a full majority in a snap election? If his whips when in opposition can be as effective in Government, he might yet play the game the way SNP never envisaged.
Up for grabs for the next government is the future constitutional settlement of this nation. After the indy referendum it might be easy to forget that. The problem is to beat the nationalists Labour must be an electoral force to be reckoned with north of the border. That would be best helped by a progressive Labour Government. English voters should consider voting a majority Labour Party is the only way to safeguard the United Kingdom as it is. The risk is a minority Labour Government.
As for a Conservative majority, hopefully they understand the future federal structure necessary to safeguard the union. Hopefully members are listening to Paul Goodman:
What is the alternative, if the Union is to be saved (and Cameron to stay on, for that matter)? Margaret Thatcher tried to wish the problem away. John Major sent back the Stone of Scone. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown tried a devolution halfway house with rotten foundations. None of these ploys worked.
Only the federal solution remains: unless, that is, one prefers shouting "Boo!" at Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon in the hope that they will go away (which they won't) - while simultaneously bringing closer the very SNP-Labour deal that Team Cameron is rightly warning the country against.
It is time to put the Conservative and Unionist Party name to the test - and prove Peter Hitchens wrong that you would never accidentally on purpose allow a situation where independence happened to lock-in a future English Parliament.
As David Cameron said:
I have no time for those who say there is no way Scotland could go it alone. I know first-hand the contribution Scotland and Scots make to Britain's success - so for me there's no question about whether Scotland could be an independent nation.
There is no question for me that Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland and Alex Salmond in Westminster know how to make that happen in a hung parliament where the Liberal Democrats do not help Labour or Conservative to the 326 majority of MPs. The nationalists do not come at the English with swords and guerilla raids. They come in the spirit of friendship and camaraderie. The smiles and bonhomie cannot disguise that the SNP will do what they can to ensure an independent Scotland happens.
If you thought that the indy referendum had settled the future of Britain, be prepared to wake up to a potential headache after May 7th. The SNP were not knocked out, rather Labour is on the canvas in Scotland as we await the count to start when the polls close. If Conservative voters in Scotland are serious about saving the union they need to vote Labour or Liberal Democrat to keep the SNP out.
The nationalists are coming, and Labour are the ones to blame. For by them losing MPs in Scotland we may well be a step closer to the break up of the United Kingdom. Can anything happen in the next month to change that? Well I expect leaking the memo was an attempt by someone.
England - if you wanted a say in the future of the United Kingdom during the indy referendum, this General Election you have by either returning a Conservative or Labour majority government. Judging by the polls, many things will hang in the balance.
Article written originally by John Sargeant on Homo economicus' Weblog