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Cameron’s last throw and Lynton Crosby’s series of bungles

cameron in troubleCameron is getting desperate. Throwing around billions in unfunded promises (the NHS, housing association hand-outs, raised inheritance tax threshold) cut no ice. The inevitable promise of higher rate tax cuts (unfunded again) didn’t impress. The boast that the Tories had turned round the economy from a basket case to a world beater simply didn’t ring true in people’s lives. The claim that the Tories represented the ‘party of working people’ is beyond satire. So having used up every trick in the book, including vilifying Ed Miliband which turned counter-productive once people saw him at length on TV and could make up their own minds, Cameron has now resorted to the most preposterous device of all – trying to inflame English nationalism against the Scots in order to turn voters against a Labour-SNP deal after the election.

This ruse is rich with ironies. Nicola Sturgeon is portrayed as ‘the most dangerous woman in Britain’ when only 6 months ago Cameron was begging and pleading with her to stay part of the union. It is claimed that a Labour government would be held to ransom by the SNP when Cameron has spent the last 5 years being held to ransom by his ever rebellious far-right party within a party. Major returns from the dead to proclaim that Labour would face ‘blackmail’ from the Scots when he himself faced blackmail almost every day of his government from the Ulster Unionists and the anti-Europe Tory Right (or ‘bastards’ as he famously called them). This is all wild, off-the-wall rhetoric. They would do well to remember Angela Merkel’s recent dictum: when a big party mixes with a small party, the big party always wins.

The ultimate irony is that if the Tories did pull off this last trick, another 5 years of Tory rule would lay the most compelling foundations for another referendum which would almost certainly be won by the SNP. The SNP surge has been fired by the seeming inevitability of Tory-dominated, London-based, Establishment-run government, including New Labour’s aping neoliberal Toryism, and by far the most productive way to hold on to the union and contain the SNP outburst is a power-sharing arrangement in Westminster based on a different ideology in which nevertheless the big party still holds all the aces.

It isn’t as though power-sharing were a novelty in Britain. Of the 20 British governments in the century to 2000, half were coalitions and minority governments (5 of each). Nor is it necessarily the case that the leader of the largest party automatically becomes prime minister. The decisive factor is which leader can collect enough minority support to put together a majority in Parliament. That was how the Labour government took office in 1924.

Image credit: photo montage by Left Futures


  1. David Davies says:

    And remember in Wales the Tories actively negotiated to serve in a Cabinet under a Nationalist First Minister in 2007. Only the incompetence of the Liberal Democrats unable to run a meeting to endorse the agreement stopped it happening.

  2. Gary Brooke says:

    Probably best not to mention the ’24 Labour government, Michael!

  3. Robert says:

    1924 a labour party, 2005 a Progress party sadly massive differences in the whole ideology.

  4. John p Reid says:

    The labour PM in 24 left to form a Tory coalition, the labour PM in 2005 left tomakemillions in the Middle East

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