This post on the No Thanks! blog was to have been a more discursive piece on the question of a vision for the union (see conclusion to a recent post) but events have overtaken me and this subject is more urgent.
The No Thanks! blog has been scrupulous in sticking to its remit of seeking to maintain the union of Scotland and England. I have avoided anything to do with any other aspect of British or Scottish politics, but this brief post comes with an unambiguous message:
Jeremy Corbyn – if you become the leader of the Labour party and after that prime minister do not make an alliance with the SNP. You may not mean it to but it will lead inexorably towards the breakup of the United Kingdom.
The context for anyone who hasn’t become aware of this issue is that Corbyn has been cited recently as saying, for example in The Scotsman today,
If there isn’t a Labour majority but a minority and we’ve got to work with other parties on the basis of a day-to-day arrangement or a supply arrangement then do that. Now obviously you have got to work with other parties to get things through and I would be prepared to do that
and a spokesman for him is quoted (this is the crunch for me) as saying
Jeremy would definitely do a deal with the SNP.
I don’t know how familiar Corbyn is with Scotland. I do know his entire political career has been spent in North London, first as a Haringey councillor then as MP for Islington North. I used to live in Crouch End, a few minutes walk from Hornsey town hall where he will have attended many a meeting, and I have good friends in Islington. I am 100% sure the affairs of Scotland do not weigh heavily on the minds of the good people of North London or the London Labour party but the views of a leader who would be willing to see the breakup of my country do weigh heavily on mine.
Corbyn may not understand the SNP. They look progressive at the moment and he might want to cosy up with them in the belief that Labour and the SNP have much in common. But they have one objective only – separation – and if its achievement involved supping with the devil, and with a short spoon at that, they’d do it.
Moreover, and I’m going to be blunt here, the SNP have spent years trying to shaft Labour in Scotland, latterly and obviously with some considerable success which I hope is only temporary. For Corbyn to forge some sort of pact with the SNP at Westminster would be the grossest betrayal of his Scottish comrades who were so prominent in leading and supporting the ‘Better Together’ campaign.
And should he have delusions about the SNP’s democratic mandate, let him remember that a majority of Scots did not vote to dissolve the union less than a year ago and the ‘stunning victory’ of the SNP in this year’s general election was based on a flawed first past the post system in which they got a whisker under 50% of votes cast. A majority of Scots have never voted for the SNP or for separation.
I think Corbyn was tactically unwise to be so explicit about how he might deal with the SNP. He’s not leader yet, he’s not in a parliamentary situation where Labour holds the balance of power (unless the Tories break up over the EU) and the next general election is almost five years away. There’s a saying about keeping your powder dry and he’s sprinkled something liquid all over his. The SNP will love him.
In the big picture of the Labour leadership race I can’t imagine an electoral pact with the SNP is up there with the main issues that concern party members.
This brief and somewhat unpolished post is entitled A message for Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party. The message for Corbyn is – drop your daft proposal. The message for Labour members is – if he doesn’t, under no circumstances vote for him.
No Thanks! will be on holiday for the next fortnight, beyond the borders of the country wherever you draw them. I doubt if news of the UK, let alone Scotland, will penetrate as far as my destination. We’re not really the centre of the world after all.