Sunday, January 07, 2007

Protesting too much?

Well, well, well. If today's 'Sunday Herald' is to be believed, it seems like one of Labour's Scottish MPs is in talks with the SNP about crossing the floor.

The MP, whom it is claimed has had several discussions with SNP bigwigs about joining the party, is said to be unhappy with the decision to renew Trident, as well as with the current situation in Iraq. If it does come to pass before next May, it will represent a body-blow to Labour's chances of re-election in the Scottish Parliamentary elections.

I'll say here and now that I'm too far down the SNP food chain to know whether this is true or not. For that reason, I would have been inclined to file it under the category of 'I'll believe it when I see it'. However, that was before I read Labour's denial on the BBC News website.

Describing the story as "Fundamentally untrue", a Labour spokesman said: "These talks are so secret that no Labour MP has been involved in them". He then went on to bluster about imaginary black holes, before making a silly remark that perhaps "Alex Salmond is so keen to speak to Labour MPs because Labour is the party with ideas for Scotland's future that will unlock the potential of every Scot, and SNP MPs are fighting like ferrets in a sack."

Does anyone else think this denial might be just a little too spirited, a touch too vehement? It would have been enough to dismiss the story as untrue, but to describe it as 'fundamentally untrue' before launching into an unusually vigorous version of his party's standard ad hominem anti-SNP diatribe, suggests that a nerve might have been touched.

No smoke without fire? Who can tell. One thing's for certain, though. With discontent over Blair reaching a crescendo and Labour about to lose a large chunk of their local government base thanks to PR, their internal cohesion is likely to be tested over the next few months as never before.


Bob said...

Richard, this is perhaps a misuse of your blog, since my comment isn't about the story, except where you mention fighting like ferrets in a sack:-

I've just finished reading the results of the vote on the Trident motion just before Christmas. One point has not been commented on: There is plainly a majority in Parliament against the UK government's proposal to agree the replacement of Trident now (and this doesn't include the shameless Maureen Macmillan who says she is against nuclear weapons and votes against a motion opposing them). How is it possible that that majority failed to pass a motion opposing the UK government's proposal? Is it the fault of the Liberal Democrats who refused to support the SNP motion, although it seems to be in accord with their own party policy? Is it the fault of the rebel Labour MSPs who voted for the SNP motion, but not for the LibDem amendment, which would have been acceptable to the majority? Is it the fault of the SNP leadership, who failed to table a motion that would be acceptable to all, and then scrambled all the SNP MSPs to vote for the LibDem amendment?

Somehow we have handed a victory to the unionists and the proponents of nuclear weapons, even though we held all the aces.

Richard Thomson said...

Hi Bob,

The fact that the anti-Trident majority wihch exists in Holyrood failed to assert itself had me scratching my head as well.

The SNP has in the past been guilty of wording motions that have scared off potential support, but I don't think that can be said to have happened this time. The motion (S2M-5355) said that a convincing case could be made for the non-replacement of Trident and called for a 'full debate' - something which shouldn't have presented any problems to the anti-Trident MSPs in other parties.

In the end, Labour 'rebels' didn't vote for it simply because it was an SNP motion. Ditto the Lib Dems, who despite some of their rhetoric on opposing Trident, only seem to support deferring the decision to 2014.

I don't think it was really a victory for anyone. Hopefully, though, it flushed out a few of our representatives who say one thing to their constituents then do another thing entirely in parliament. With any luck, people will have noticed and will take this into account come the election.