Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

AT the End of Last Week's [...]; COLUMNIST

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

AT the End of Last Week's [...]; COLUMNIST

Article excerpt


AT the end of last week's column, I wrote that the question of whether or not Labour should do a post-election deal with the Scottish National Party would return to haunt Ed Miliband - and promised that in this week's piece, I would attempt to supply an answer.

Well, I wasn't wrong about the first bit. The Conservatives have hammered away at the Labour-SNP line so much so that even some of their most senior figures have started to question the tactic.

Former Prime Minister Sir John Major loyally supported the party line by claiming that a Labour government supported by the SNP would be a "recipe for mayhem".

But Lord Forsyth, who served as Scottish Secretary under Sir John, warned that while talking up the SNP might damage the Labour Party in the short term, in the longer term it would ultimately do more damage to the Union.

The Tories' attacks increasingly have an air of desperation about them - perhaps unsurprising given that the party is now on its third campaign strategy in as many weeks.

They began the campaign seemingly resolved to focus on the 'long term economic plan,' hoping that rising employment and the fear of a return to economic "chaos" under Labour would be enough to get them over the line.

When that failed to give them the clear poll lead they anticipated, David Cameron brought his "happiness agenda" out of cold storage and started talking about "sunshine" all over again with an upbeat manifesto launch promising voters the "good life."

But the sun failed to shine for long and the Tories soon went negative again, this time playing on the fears of English voters about what Labour might do in coalition with the new bogeywoman of British politics, Nicola Sturgeon.

So what should Mr Miliband do? Well, in one sense, he has already supplied the answer. Offered the prospect of a coalition by SNP leader Ms Sturgeon during the BBC election debate a week last Thursday, Mr Miliband responded "it's a no, I'm afraid."

Of course, that didn't go far enough for the Tories and their allies in the national press, who want to see the Labour leader rule out any sort of parliamentary arrangement with the nationalists. …

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