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Sunday, May 06, 2007

SCOTTISH ELECTION - FORMING A GOVERNMENT

The election result is about as close as it could possibly be. The SNP have ended up one vote ahead but, as I had prophesied, it will take 3 parties to form a majority. There is even the possibility that Labour could win their challenge to one seat & become largest party until the SNP challenged in another & so on in the manner of Bush/Gore. However the SNP's moral claim is good in that they have the largest number of votes & that they have clearly broken labour's hegemony in Scottish politics. There is even a probability that some Labour members will be comfortable with being in opposition. Opposition allows a party to reform itself, get rid of the dead wood, work out new policies & lie back allowing the reformers to make a mess of it. The SNP have certainly made a number of spending promises which it will be virtually impossible to all keep. I hope they will be held to their pro-growth policies - cutting business rates & corporation tax, but this is easier said than done.

It is theoretically possible to form a government supported by 65 of 129 members in an coalition between SNP (47), LDs (16) & Greens (2) but this would depend on every MSP remaining both loyal & healthy & would lead to endless ambushing by the Labour & Tories. In my opinion the SNP are being foolish in continuously denigrating the Tories. They are 1 vote larger than the LDs (theoretically they & Margo MacDonald could also form a coalition with the SNP) but the old SNP insistence on being a "socialist" party, quite out of keeping with their Irish style growth policies has defined the Tories as class enemies.

My bet will be a technical minority government of the SNP & LDs with a de facto deal with the Tories - I may be biased because that would also be my preferred choice, far better than any deal involving the Greens, which would make it almost impossible for the SNP to achieve growth & totally impossible to avoid blackouts. Such a government would obviously make a referendum on independence impossible but with the other 3 big parties opposed there just is not anything close to a majority for it.

The other alternative would be a Labour & LD coalition equally supported by the Tories. In some ways this would be more logical, particularly for the Tories who are on much better terms with Labour. However since there is obvious dissatisfaction with Labour a 3rd government led by them would make it seem that the only way to get rid of them would be an SNP majority. Thus the SNP should be given most of the month allowed to form a government to see if they can, or are willing to (seeing their attitude to the Tories) form a government.

As Margo MacDonald pointed out it doesn't have to be settled in a few days.

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