SNP-backed Miliband or a return to the John Major years? Only the Lib Dems can stop it

by Samuel Dale

He’s back. The most successful prime minister – nay politician – ever to grace British parliamentary democracy.

A man of such grace, skill and power that he swept all before him in his pomp. Adored by his own. Feared by rivals. Yesterday, he spoke and we – humble electorate – must heed his wise counsel.

I speak, of course, of Sir John Major. Well, that seems to be the absurd narrative pedalled by the electorally-charged right-wing press that once lampooned Major’s premiership. Times change. Major’s speech gave warning of the higher taxes, fewer jobs and general mayhem of a Labour government supported by the SNP.

Firstly, he’s right. A Labour/SNP deal would be a disaster for Britain and the Labour party as well.

There would be an economic chilling effect around new investment into the UK while the PLP would be split over any arrangement with the nationalists. In fact, I was warning about it on this blog before it was cool.

But, as many have pointed out, it was John Major’s Government in the 1990s that actually did deliver higher taxes, fewer jobs and general mayhem.

Look at the facts. There’s Black Wednesday, when a self-inflicted economic crisis pushed the Bank of England’s interest rates to a crushing 15% in September 1992.

Thousands of families repossessed as mortgage rates became unaffordable and unemployment rocketed. As if his economic policies were not bad enough he then declared that “unemployment was a price worth paying” to get Britain recovering.

Major pledged not to raise VAT before the 1992 election before imposing an 8% VAT levy on fuel.

He spent the best part of the 1990s in constant battles with his backbenchers over Britain’s role in the EU as he failed to hold his party together.

The NHS was underfunded and we had the scandal of thousands of pensioners dying of the cold every winter in the 1990s.

Major also oversaw the Conservatives biggest ever election defeat that put them out of power for 13 years and still failed to see them win a majority. His seven years tarnished the Tory brand so much that it has failed to recover almost 20 years after his departure.

While Major has resurfaced to warn of a left-wing Labour Government, he reminds us what happens under another dangerous coalition: a small Tory majority.

The slim Conservative majority that Major argues for – an unlikely but not impossible prospect at this stage – would see David Cameron relying, like he did, on the people who hate his guts.

He would have no choice but to do daily, vote-by-vote deals with Peter Bone, Bill Cash, Christopher Chope, John Redwood and other headbangers.

These are the socially illiberal, EU-hating, gay marriage bashing isolationists who would drag Cameron, so easily swayed, to the right.

Welfare cuts would be sprayed about with even less precision than the bedroom tax. High value property would continue to go under-taxed while consumption over-taxed. The richest pensioners would be given goodies after goodies. Non-doms would probably get a tax cut. There would be parliamentary showdown after parliamentary showdown.

And, of course, they would do everything in their power to drag the UK out of the EU. Whatever the costs.

So John Major came to remind us about the prospect of one troubling coalition but he has reminded us of two.

What would you prefer: Ed Miliband negotiating with Nicola Sturgeon every day or David Cameron with Christopher Chope?

One wants to break up the UK, the other break up the EU. The SNP or a re-run of the chaotic John Major years? Both are unappealing and unstable offers.

So we look to a third unappealing prospect. The only way this country is not being dragged to the right or left is if the Nick Clegg-led Lib Dems get enough seats to have a key government role. That’s what John Major reminded us yesterday and it’s not pretty.

Sam Dale is a financial and political journalist

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

10 Responses to “SNP-backed Miliband or a return to the John Major years? Only the Lib Dems can stop it”

  1. ex labour says:

    The avowed intent of the SNP is to destroy the union, and yet Miliband and Labour are prepared to deal with the very party who is prepared to do this and who has destroyed labour in Scotland, just to get into power ? I suppose your mouth frothing appraisal of the Major years has diverted your attention from this.

    The bottom line and answer to your question is yes, I would prefer Cameron dealing with Chope as opposed to the propect of an SNP Labour alliance. Furthermore its tragic and desperate that a Labour leader would even consider this arrangement. Utterly pathetic and weak minded.

  2. paul barker says:

    I takes guts to put up an article advising readers to vote Libdem, on a Labour site, good for you.

  3. swatantra says:

    Lets not forget the 30 odd ‘Loony Left’ Labour MPs who could well exert a stranglehold on a Minority Labour Govt, as well as the Tartan Army of 50 SNPs.

  4. Look, there won’t be a deal between the SNP and Labour. Anyone who thinks there will be really doesn’t understand the sheer bile and hatred between the SNP and “Scottish” Labour. Do you really think that swivel eyed foaming at the mouth Ian Davidson types would let Miliband have a deal with the SNP?

    Mind you, i suspect that “London” Labour would quite like to get shot of “Scottish” Labour. After Umuna’s kneecapping of Murphy last week, I think the Labour hierarchy blame Scottish Labour for the mess that they’ve found themselves in since the referendum. Who can blame them, after all as it’s mostly “Scottish” Labour’s rightwards lurch that has cost them.

  5. Tafia says:

    You miss one inescapable fact – the people that vote SNP are not interested in UK – so bleating about what the tories will do to England is casting seed on stoney ground.

    Same as the Tories wheeling out John Major in London the other day – does anyone seriously believe that people in Scotland give a flying what a former Tory PM says in London? The voters of Scotland will decide what is the best for Scotland – and they resent England telling them what is good for them far far more than England seems to realise.

    If Labour want to win back the vote in Scotland then they are going to have to stop campaigning on England only issues (health and education are devolved and fighting a GE campaign on England only issues – such as the NHS, alienates non-England voters) and start saying things the voters of Scotland want to hear.

    They aren’t going to vote Labour out of sentimentality.

    The argument of ‘vote SNP get Tory’ is bollocks because they voted Labour and got Thatcher. They voted Labour and got Major. They voted Labour and got Cameron. No matter what they vote, they end up with the Government England chooses. And they are not going to accept that anymore – and indeed why should they.

    And they aren’t going to vote Labour out of concern for what they regard as a foreign country – which as we know from the referendum at least 45% of them do regard UK as a foreign country.

    So if Labour want their vote, start singing a song Scotland wants to hear as opposed to the one Labour wants to sing.

    As a point if interest, all the people opposed to scottish/welsh nationalism would have opposed Irish Home Rule in the 1920s. And when it happened, the sky didn’t fall in. And Asquith’s Government of the 1920;’s was propped up by Irish nationalists. In fact Callaghan’s Labour government of 77-79 was propped up by the SNP.

    It’s not the first time nationalists have propped up a UK government and if it leads to home rule of some sort that won’t be the first time either. There are still people alive today who voted for Asquiths government so it happened in living memory is how recent it was.

    If you don’t like nationalists then why do you vote? Labour, Lib Dem and the torie are UK nationalists.. The SDLP (Labour in Northern ireland) is also nationalist.

    The election is largely centred around England-only issues – health, education etc are devolved and what goes on outside of England is none of Westminster’s business nor their remit and is nothing to do with what is supposed to be and claimed to be a UK election. If you are bothered by nationalism then tell the main parties to only fight the election on UK-wide issues.

    They interviewing people on the street in Edinburgh as I type. All Edinburgh seats look like they will go SNP. The interviewer is pointing out the oil price etc and the random people being asked aren’t interested – they just don’t want Westminster interfering imn their country anymore.

    One of the spin-offs in this is England is going to end up with some form of devolved governance similar to the other three countries. UK as a concept is dying and will be buried by lunchtime May 8th and both Labour and the Tories will change and adapt to the new dynamic and England will become devolved as a result.

    Think on. The collapse in Labour Scotland hasn’t happened over long term. It’s happened in less than 5 years (less than 2 actually) and is entirely self-inflicted – and the same could happen in England or Wales post-GE to either of the big two parties and just as quickly.

  6. Richard T says:

    “No matter what they vote, they end up with the Government England chooses.”

    This is, of course, factually wrong.

  7. Tafia says:

    This is, of course, factually wrong.

    No it isn’t. When Heath, Thatcher, Major and Cameron won, how did Scotland vote? It voted Labour whereas England voted Conservative.

    When Wilson, Callaghan, Blair won Scotland voted Labour but Labour won because England voted Labour as well. Remember, Wales was a principality of England back then and not a country and legally and electorally classed as part of England.

    In fact the last time Scotland voted Conservative was 1955.

    Scotland General Election results 1830 to present –

    The voters of Scotland wish to decide for themselves and until Labour accepts that and makes Labour in Scotland a totally independent party and the STUC totally independent of the TUC then it is a lost cause north of the border and the longer it takes them to accept that and evolve then the greater the damage will be.

  8. uglyfatbloke says:

    Scottish Labour has n’t really lurched to the right; they’ve (mostly) been there for decades. The problem is n’t their leftness or rightness, it’s the low calibre of most of the MPs, MSPs and councillors.
    Tafia is of course factually correct about the electoral arithmetic.

  9. Mr Akira Origami says:

    “Only the Lib Dems can stop it”…

    The LibDems were unable to stop Labour jumping into bed with the Nationalists in 2007.

  10. Mr Akira Origami says:

    From a comment above: “If you don’t like nationalists then why do you vote? Labour, Lib Dem and the torie are UK nationalists.. The SDLP (Labour in Northern ireland) is also nationalist.”

    The Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones has admitted the possibility of a hung parliament and said he would be more than happy to see a deal with the SDLP.

    By jumping into bed with the Welsh Nationalists, Welsh Labour has shown it’s real politics. Welsh Labour are now seen as Nationalists in sheep,s clothing.

    Labour have massively lost support in Scotland but they have lost a third of their support in Wales. In Wales though, defection from the Labour party will be mostly to UKIP not Plaid Cymru.

Leave a Reply