Labour minority government – or coalition with the Lib Dems – would not actually need the SNP’s support

Professor Colin Talbot of Manchester University has written an interesting blog which reinforces many of the points made here by Tony Greaves.

He mentions that much of the talk of “Confidence and supply” deals, Queens Speech votes and second 2015 elections ignores the reality of the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011, which is kind to minority governments.

There’s been a lot of talk about Ed Miliband needing the SNP’s support to get into Downing Street.

There is one essential snag with that. He doesn’t need their support to become and remain Prime Minister.

Under the FTPA, if David Cameron tries to form a government, only a majority of the House need to vote in favour of this motion to turf him out of Downing Street:

That this House has no confidence in Her Majesty’s Government.

In order to give Ed Miliband the keys of Number Ten, within 14 days of the above motion being carried, all that is needed is for a majority of the house to vote in favour of this motion:

That this House has confidence in Her Majesty’s Government

Based on Professor’s Talbot’s seat projection figures of 29th April, I set out below the scenario whereby both motions could be carried without the SNP voting either way. The Liberal Democrats would have to vote in favour of both motions. My figures can be tinkered with, but it needs a big change to alter the reality: Ed Miliband can take, and hold, office without the SNP’s support.

Numbers as at 29th April

Here’s a second scenario for the motion of no confidence in a Cameron-led government. Here the LibDems can support a Cameron government, but if the SNP vote against it, as they have said they would, Cameron falls.

sc 2

In my third scenario here, the SNP and the LibDems vote against Cameron – it’s pretty overwhelming then:

sc3

From this I conclude that the LibDems could actually join a coalition government with Labour without it being supported by the SNP (with reference to Nick Clegg’s statement that he would not do a deal which involved the SNP). All the SNP have to do is vote against a Cameron-led government (which they’ve said they would do) and abstain on the vote of confidence in a Miliband-led government.

Of course, there could be a perceived issue of legitimacy of a Miliband-led government, if Labour end up with significantly less seats and/or votes than the Tories. Nick Clegg has questioned the legitimacy of such a “coalition of the losers”. I don’t approve of that phrase. We are an anti-Tory party in many respects – in many policy areas when you compare full-fat Tory policies with ours, we are poles apart. So if you look again at scenario three above, even if Labour finish second, there could be a natural coalition around them which is anti-full-fat Toryism in nature. That is not losing. Such a coalition commands a vast swathe of voters, perhaps the lion’s share of voters. The votes just happen to be distributed across several parties. It is a very legitimate bloc of common interests.

Having said all that, Shaun Lawson on the Our Kingdom blog argues that some of the accepted polling and projections are flawed in favour of Labour, and that the Tories will get around 290 seats. That’ll mean a high probability of a continuation of a Tory/Lib Dem coalition, he argues. I hope not.

(With thanks to Mark Thompson for pointing out the Shaun Lawson post.)

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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45 Comments

  • Bill le Breton 6th May '15 - 10:03am

    Paul, it was also interesting to read Talbot’s conclusion: “There’s a wider point here too – the British Political Tradition is always said to have favored ‘strong government’ but current voting patterns suggest people are much less concerned about that idea. Maybe the British electorate would welcome a Government that had to constantly negotiate policies rather than act like an “elective dictatorship”? We are probably going to find out.”

    It is becoming clear to me, at least, that this is the main Clegg and Co strategy. viz. that the UK needs an era of coalition governance to change this attitude towards ‘strong governments/majority governments’. How long is an era? 20 to 25 years or five elections resulting in a coalition, the continuation of which are aided by the Fixed Term Parliament Act.

    Why a series of coalitions rather than of minority governments as described above? Coalitions are more European and this strategy of Clegg’s is very European in cultural terms.

    Anyway, I think we should expect that if the cards fall in ways that provide the LDs with a part of the balance of power, Clegg’s real red line is that he will demand membership of a coalitionrather than supporting a Minority Government – just read what Clegg says repeatedly.

    And secondly, Clegg willnot feel bound by either the FE or a special conference provided he wins the support of more than 50% of the new Party in the Commons. If he doesn’t get wider support he will rely on the constitutional status of an MP being responsible to his or her conscience, the needs of his or her electorate and therefore not bound by any Party constitutional niceties.

    Those of us against membership of another Coaltion this time and content to see minority governance if necessary, will have a huge fight on our hands, from Friday onwards.

    Be prepared.

  • Abstention is another option. I expect Lib Dems to abstain where there is no prospect of a formal agreement. With only roughly 30 MPs it is hard to see how a colalition would be staffed let alone agreed.

  • Adam Corlett 6th May '15 - 10:17am

    You might also be interested in this article: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/a-lib-lab-coalition-is-perfectly-possible-with-the-snp-as-the-silent-partner/ “A Lib-Lab coalition is perfectly possible – with the SNP as the silent partner”

    It says something similar. I think it’s slightly wishful thinking, but if the SNP can be persuaded to abstain, the threshold for a majority falls to under 300, and a Lib-Lab (+SDLP?) coalition then probably has a majority. That’s also relevant for Bills that are clearly only about England+Wales – if the SNP refrain from voting (as they’ve said they will – with caveats), the Lib Dems hold the balance of power.

  • @Bill le Breton “Be prepared”

    I was a Scout too, Bill. Don’t worry – we are.

  • I fear this will resolve in the installation of a very unpopular minority Labour government. The prospects for Lib Dems in an equally unpopular Lib-Lab government are deeply worrying.

    I am sure that the leadership must be aware of this.

  • Paul,
    Like you I hope that the conclusion of Shaun Lawson is incorrect.

    Thank you for sign-posting the blog by Prof Talbot.
    I have been appalled /irritated by the apparent lack of knowledge of the BBC “experts”, reporters et al on the subject of the Fixed Term Parliament Act ( FTPA ).
    They have been talking about a second election later this year. The only way to achieve that would be to get a bill abolishing the FTPA through Commons and Lords.
    Such a process would not begin until Parliament is recalled. That rules out May and June. The idea that a bill could be rushed through both houses before the third week in July when MPs reach for their buckets and spades seems fanciful. If they get back to Parliament at the end of September, the possibilities of getting such a bill through before Christmas seem limited. What would the justification be? How would it not look like “cut and run” to the voters?

    Short of an election the week before Christmas, being called at the beginning of November, assuming abolition of the FTPA could possibly be get through both Houses in the weeks of October, a second election in 2015 is not going to happen.

    Or am I misunderstanding something?

  • Stephen Hesketh 6th May '15 - 10:42am

    Bill le Breton 6th May ’15 – 10:03am

    Agree with much you say Bill.

    Clegg’s strongly European-informed cultural views (which I don’t have many issues with) – but which probably also have much to do with his views regarding what he and others have sought to change the party of British-style social justice Liberalism in to (which I have very deep issues with).

    Regarding your second point, one has the feeling (and some evidence) that he will carry on regardless until he achieves this goal or is removed as leader.

  • Stephen Hesketh 6th May '15 - 10:49am

    My distinct preference is to elect a new leader and rebuild the party away from government but if that does not come to pass, I agree wholeheartedly with Paul’s comment:

    “Nick Clegg has questioned the legitimacy of such a “coalition of the losers”. I don’t approve of that phrase. We are an anti-Tory party in many respects – in many policy areas when you compare full-fat Tory policies with ours, we are poles apart. So if you look again at scenario three above, even if Labour finish second, there could be a natural coalition around them which is anti-full-fat Toryism in nature. That is not losing. Such a coalition commands a vast swathe of voters, perhaps the lion’s share of voters. The votes just happen to be distributed across several parties. It is a very legitimate bloc of common interests.”

    Well said.

  • John Roffey 6th May '15 - 11:21am

    According to the Independent – the Mail has blocked regular columnist Peter Hitchens article this week because of his contempt for Cameron & Osborne. Simon Heffer has not appeared during the election campaign, either, because of his even more extreme views.

    The Guardian has allowed the, ever insightful, George Monbiot to express his views:

    There are issues that really matter at this election. But Britain’s media are ignoring them

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/may/05/election-issues-media-ignoring-nation-arrested-development

    Worth reading if you want to start returning to reality after the mania of electioneering – worth reading to see the extent to which the main parties, in conjunction with the MSM, have, effectively, psychologically re-programmed [or programmed] so many voters.

  • Peter Watson 6th May '15 - 11:39am

    “Nick Clegg has questioned the legitimacy of such a “coalition of the losers”.”
    I had not heard Clegg use that phrase, but it is deeply depressing if he has expressed such a view. It’s bad enough hearing Lib Dems dismiss the possibility of working with the SNP, but this seems wrong for a party with a commitment to electoral reform and more proportional representation.

  • Paul Walter Paul Walter 6th May '15 - 11:50am

    Bill
    I agree with your post but question this bit:
    “And secondly, Clegg willnot feel bound by either the FE or a special conference provided he wins the support of more than 50% of the new Party in the Commons. If he doesn’t get wider support he will rely on the constitutional status of an MP being responsible to his or her conscience, the needs of his or her electorate and therefore not bound by any Party constitutional niceties.”

    Surely the fact of the matter is that he IS bound by the new process for post_election negotiations surely?

  • Paul Walter Paul Walter 6th May '15 - 11:53am
  • Martin 6th May ’15 – 10:18am …………….I fear this will resolve in the installation of a very unpopular minority Labour government. The prospects for Lib Dems in an equally unpopular Lib-Lab government are deeply worrying………

    Why would it be unpopular, because David Cameron says so? A minority Tory government was kept in power by compliant LibDem MPs and look what happened to the party… We have had 5 years of Milliband’s family, eating habits, personal appearance, etc., being demonised by the right wing media…We have a campaign where the ‘Mail’ and ‘Telegraph’ are urging ‘tactical voting and the re-hash of the ‘Bacon Sandwich’ in an hysterical “Sun” headline….

    All this instead of asking where £12Billion in welfare cuts are coming from…

  • matt (Bristol) 6th May '15 - 12:25pm

    Anyone who thinks that either Tory or Labour will be able to lead a ‘popular’ government is daft or a robotic drone. All outcomes will be unpopular, and have credibility issues.

    The likely character test for any Prime Minister from any party this time will be to overcome significant challenges of perceptionm narrative and media management in the country as a whole, whilst fighting a guerilla internal party-management campaign in order to stay in office day to day, the likes of which we have not seen since Major or Callaghan.

    The only popular candidate for PM this week is Princess Charlotte.

  • John Tilley is entirely correct that abolition of the FTPA cannot happen this year (and in fact it is not particularly likely to happen at all).
    Equally, the prospect of the House of Commons voting for an early general election under the procedures laid down in the FTPA seem to me, in the short term, minimal, since the SNP will not want one (why should they want one when they will already have won such a high proportion of the Scottish seats ?) and the Labour Party will not want one until polls show that they have a chance of reclaiming from the SNP a sufficient number of Scottish seats to give them either a working majority or a significantly larger number of seats than the Conservatives.
    So Nick Clegg’s vision of there necessarily having to be a further general election this year if our party does not form part of a governing coalition does not really seem at all plausible.
    Readers of this post should not however assume that I am hostile to our participation in a coalition, for I do very much agree with Nick that we would have a more stable and better government if we were able to agree on a coalition on an acceptable basis – better than the basis on which the present coalition was formed in 2010 – with whichever party has most seats and most votes.

  • @Hugh p – your additional analysis of John Tilley’s point about the FTPA, emphasis’s what no one has talked about: a true coalition government involving MP’s from Labour and the Conservatives – something that was offered back in 2010, but Labour declined the offered invitations…

    The next 6~9 months could if the results don’t give any one grouping an outright majority, take us yet another step down the road to multi-party government…

  • Stephen Hesketh 6th May '15 - 1:16pm

    Hugh p6th May ’15 – 12:31pm
    Hugh … with whichever party has most seats and most votes. Leaving aside the ‘and’ and the likelihood of that occurring, I would like to explore the principle.

    Lets say at the next GE that Lib Dems, Greens, Labour, SNP and Tories combined have 65% of the vote but that a resurgent and even more right wing UKIP have the highest individual party percentage with 35% of the vote. Do you believe that under such circumstances we should speak to UKIP first? Surely not.

    The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a Liberal society, not to make up the numbers. This party should speak preferentially to those most likely to deliver Liberal outcomes and who have just shared the greatest policy overlap with us.

    That said, I believe our greatest task this time is rebuilding the party ready fo 2020. That must be our first priority; we are unlikely to get a second chance to do that for very many years.

  • @Martin “I fear this will resolve in the installation of a very unpopular minority Labour government. The prospects for Lib Dems in an equally unpopular Lib-Lab government are deeply worrying. I am sure that the leadership must be aware of this.”

    That’s why we have the Deficit Red Line. Balls would never sign up to it – ergo no Labour coalition.

  • I take Stephen Hesketh’s point, but, fortunately, if in the unlikely event that at the next GE UKIP were to secure both the highest number of votes and the highest number of seats, it is not even remotely probable that we will be UKIP’s preferred coalition partner !

  • You Gov poll for Scotland yesterday had SNP down to 44, Labour up to 28, Cons down to 15 and ourselves now up at 10.
    Perhaps SNP will not do so well in seats as many think.
    Yes I agree with you that the media obsession with a second election just does not hold up, Votes of no confidence, 14 day cooling off periods and two thirds majorities on confidence votes all say a minority government should last 5 years.
    However i still suspect a Cons majority government which in the longer term would be good for our party recovery, once they become unpopular.

  • Since the current coalition comprises two parties which both failed to achieve majorities in 2010, is it not also a “coalition of the losers”?

  • Stephen Hesketh 6th May '15 - 2:30pm

    David-16th May ’15 – 2:00pm
    “Since the current coalition comprises two parties which both failed to achieve majorities in 2010, is it not also a “coalition of the losers”?”

    You are only spot on David!

  • Paul.
    really interesting. I think I may even have said something about fixed terms in an earlier post. I think that uncertainty might force caution on who ever is in power because they are going to need to carry the House on a vote by vote basis. To me the prospect of an early second election is not that likely, because realistically only the Conservative party is in the financial position to fight one. Labour have the ground troops, but not the funds and the Lib Dems are a little short on both. Also there’s a very good chance that it still wouldn’t resolve anything. So personally, I think that there is going to need to be a more grown up, less adversarial approach over the next few years.

  • @theakes Miliband knows he’s got one shot at being PM and this is it. If he fails he’ll be removed and those who’ve been biding their time since the fratricidal act of September 2010 will be unsheathing their sharpened knives.

    If he’s not too far from the Tories and the SNP will get him over the line, he’ll go for it. Otherwise all that sibling pain and hurt will have been for nothing.

  • TCO 6th May ’15 – 2:56pm

    @theakes Miliband knows he’s got one shot at being PM and this is it. If he fails he’ll be removed and those who’ve been biding their time since the fratricidal act of September 2010 will be unsheathing their sharpened knives.

    If he’s not too far from the Tories and the SNP will get him over the line, he’ll go for it. Otherwise all that sibling pain and hurt will have been for nothing.

    Unlike Dave Cameron who is ‘secure, in his leadership…

  • Stephen Hesketh 6th May '15 - 3:31pm

    Hugh p6th May ’15 – 1:40pm

    Hugh, the key point is surely that members and supporters alike work collectively to further Liberal Democrat values and policies. Predetermining who we might speak to based on the number of seats won by party X under our casino FPTP voting system is not the best way to further our aims but only, once again, to make us hostages to chance and (mis)fortune.

    If we wish people to support us at elections, the least we could say is that we will work with those whom we believe are most aligned with our manifesto commitments and in line with what our own supporters have voted for. What others have voted for should be subsidiary to this.

  • Expats,
    In advent of a very close hung parliament that favours Labour I think Cameron will resign. He’s already said he won’t fight for a third term.

  • @expats I think Cameron is in a worse position than Mili, given the King over the Water who is waiting to whoosh in and take his place. As Glenn says, if he can’t get a deal he’ll walk quickly a) because he’s done the job so no challenges left to accomplish, 2) the Tories are very unforgiving of leaders who aren’t winners and he will be a two-time loser and 3) it’s probably in the Tory long-term interest to let Labour screw up with the Nats.

  • @Stephen Hesketh “in line with what our own supporters have voted for”

    The problem was, Stephen, that too many of our erstwhile supporters were voting against, not for. And that fundamental dichotomy was never resolved prior to 2010.

  • Eddie Sammon 6th May '15 - 4:00pm

    Good stuff. It is true the “lion’s share” of voters are against full fat toryism, but they are also against full fat socialism. Especially on immigration, at the moment.

    Regards

  • I think Paul Walter has clearly demonstrated that the Tories could be defeated by a grand coalition minus the SNP if David Cameron doesn’t follow the civil service rule that he must resign once it is clear he doesn’t have a majority and Labour with our support could form a government.

    It was interesting to read Colin Talbot on the problems of amending the budget (http://blog.policy.manchester.ac.uk/posts/2015/04/could-the-snp-block-a-labour-budget-no/ )
    where he concludes that the current rules make it impossible to amend the budget to either increase spending or introduce a new tax. He states that the standing orders would need to be changed to enable the budget to be amended and more time would be needed to discuss it. It is likely that the SNP will want to amend the standing orders. But which parties would agree to do so without it being part of a deal?

    If there was a minority Labour government the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats might support amending the rules to make life difficult for Labour, but if either of these political parties wanted to reduce spending the current rules would allow amendments to do so, so would they support changing the rules?

    @ Paul Walter
    “Surely the fact of the matter is that he (Clegg) IS bound by the new process for post_election negotiations surely?”
    He has not been bound by conference decisions in the past.

    @ Bill le Breton

    If the numbers work and Clegg does a deal to form a new Conservative-Liberal Democrat deal I would hope he wouldn’t ignore the vote of conference if he didn’t get the two-thirds majority required. If he did ignore it and he had support from about 5/8 of the MPs I am not convinced the party would do anything to remove him. I am not convinced that any of the 20 MPs against the coalition would want to stand against him for the leadership and then there wouldn’t be 75 local parties to support a new leadership election. Would we be able to amend the constitution to give the power to call a new leadership election to Federal Conference? Would there be a majority for such action or would we just continue our decline in members, activists and councillors?

    My problem is that I have no confidence that Nick Clegg could form a coalition agreement with either the Conservatives or Labour that will not continue our decline and which might bring the party to a situation worse than 1951. I think we have to reject all coalitions and try to get as much as we can for a confidence and supply agreement.

  • If there is a Labour government then I would prefer the Lib Dems went into coalition with Labour, even if the two don’t have a majority. I mostly like Labour policies but they can be very authoritarian, the Lib Dems would (hopefully) prevent this.

    If this thing happened the best thing would be if the Liberals got an entire government department (say the home office) and Labour got everything else. That way there would be a clear line at the next election, everything that happened in regards to law, order, crime and punishment would be the Lib Dems and they take all the credit and all the blame for that and Labour get the blame or the credit for everything else.

    I also hope Nick Clegg loses his seat and a new leader who is genuinely willing to work with Labour emerges.

  • Stevan Rose 6th May '15 - 7:39pm

    The problem as I see it is with the seat projections in that I cannot see how anyone can predict those with any confidence. This is not a clearly unpopular government like the Major and Brown administrations. I think Tories and Lib Dems will do better than the opinion polls say based on leader performances of the last couple of days and by intense targeting of seats and voter profiles. Miliband’s only objective seems to be gaining the world record for getting the most incidences of “working” into one sentence and it is becoming severely irritating.

  • @MichaelBG “if te numbers work and Clegg does a deal to form a new Conservative-Liberal Democrat deal I would hope he wouldn’t ignore the vote of conference if he didn’t get the two-thirds majority required. If he did ignore it and he had support from about 5/8 of the MPs I am not convinced the party would do anything to remove him. ”

    I thought the Southport convention meant if the special conference was against the final decision is an all member ballot

  • Passing through 6th May '15 - 9:47pm

    @Stevan Rose

    “This is not a clearly unpopular government”

    Current UKPR polling average: LD= 9%

    I wonder what a “clearly unpopular” governing party would get?

  • @PT hint: the government consists of two parties not one.

  • Stevan Rose 6th May '15 - 10:15pm

    “Current UKPR polling average: LD= 9%
    I wonder what a “clearly unpopular” governing party would get?”

    As TCO points out Government means 2 parties. Jointly polling 43% according to UKPR. That’s what the Blair landslide got in 1997. 3% more than the Blair landslide of 2001. Slightly better than the Thatcher landslide of 1983. As governments go, this one is about as good as it gets. On the other hand the Opposition are polling at around the same as Michael Howard got in 2005 resulting in sub-200 seats. I don’t personally reckon that someone with the popular appeal of Michael Howard deserves to be PM on Friday.

  • WildColonialBoy 6th May '15 - 11:54pm

    @John Tilley

    You say you are appalled by BBC experts talking about an election by Christmas.

    The only person I’ve seen talking about that is Nick Clegg

  • Steven Rose.
    Whoever commands the house wins. That is the nature of British politics. I know Lord Oakeshott is something of a dirty word here but I hope his efforts to form a progressive alliance works. Coz to be honest I don’t support the Bedroom tax and sanctions against the venerable Crowing about Michael Howard is all fine, but the fact remains that it is irrelevant to the vote in 2015. I don’t want another five years of the bedroom tax or tax cuts for the rich or any of the BS spun by the Conservatives and I don’t really get the impression that that many Lib Dems do.

  • I guess a lot of people will be receiving an e-mail around now entitled – “Stability, Unity and Decency”

    It is not exactly ” Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité “.

    From my perspective, that of a mainstream Liberal Democrat, these words – “Stability, Unity and Decency” are the watchwords of conservatism, of the status quo, of keeping things the same.

    I joined the Liberal Party because I hungered for change, radical change to make the world a better place, not to keep things as they are.

    When Nick Clegg talks about “..our wonderful united kingdom” — it shows that he has lost the plot.

  • Robin Bennett 7th May '15 - 10:53am

    That Milliband will not need the SNP was predicted by, of all people, the pro-independence website Wings over Scotland on March 12.

    “…Labour can in theory pass pretty much any policy it wants. If it wants to make any left-wing, redistributive changes, it can get them through with the backing of the SNP. But if it wants to pursue Trident renewal, welfare cuts and the rest of its centre-right agenda, policies opposed by the SNP, the Tories will vote for them.

    It’s a perfect storm of political opportunity. Effective total power, but buffered with a ready-made excuse. Renew Trident, attack welfare and immigration, then dare the SNP to vote down a budget increasing taxes on the wealthy…”

    Instead of repeating Tory predictions of “chaos” after the election, we should have hammered home to potential SNP voters in Lib Dem seats that the SNP will be the pointless party in Westminster.

  • Matthew Huntbach 7th May '15 - 1:37pm

    Robin Bennett

    Instead of repeating Tory predictions of “chaos” after the election, we should have hammered home to potential SNP voters in Lib Dem seats that the SNP will be the pointless party in Westminster.

    Indeed. The only way a minority Labour government is going to be pushed around by the SNP forcing it to do things that it does not really want to do is if the SNP can get Tory support for those things. So the situation would only be “chaos” if the Tories were prepared to join with the SNP to make it chaos.

    If the SNP wanted to maximise their power, they’d need to back a minority Conservative government, perhaps by abstaining on “English” issues rather than outright. They could then be forever threatening to bring it down if it doesn’t deliver to Scotland. The Tories in return could willingly concede purely Scottish things, because the overall cost would not be great. I.e. they could make more cuts in services in England with tacit SNP backing at the cost of more generous funding of Scottish services. Given the difference in population between England and Scotland, the Tories might find that a cost worth paying to push their overall goal of tax cuts.

  • @John Tilley “It is not exactly ” Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité “.”

    I don’t recall the French Revolution being all fun and games, John. Frankly I’d take evolution over revolution every time.

  • I sincerely hope that the 2015 General Election results enable Labour plus Lib Dem MPs to outnumber the Tories, UKIP and DUP MPs because any Tory based government would have major implications for the future of the UK Union, including:
    – If the Tories govern the UK it will give the SNP the excuse they need to include another independence referendum in their 2016 Scottish Election manifesto.
    – It would enable the SNP to blackmail the rest of the UK, forcing concessions on a vote by vote basis and if this happened it would cause major resentment against Scotland.
    – It would risk two years of chaos relating to an in-out referendum on EU membership which seems mostly likely to do severe lasting damage to the UK economy and international standing.

    Unfortunately a Labour-Lib Dem minority government could leave open the option of the SNP combining with the Tories and others to defeat the minority government but clearly the SNP’s credibility in Scotland would be very severely damaged if they did this.

    The essential/primary concessions (before all else) required of Labour by the Lib Dems prior to joining them in a minority government must include:
    – A Constitutional Convention whose terms of reference include devo max for Scotland and ALL other parts of the UK Union using the same agreed principles, albeit with time related conditions depending on individual regional needs and preferences.
    – Any new underpinning regional financial package will be based on need and ability to pay across all of the UK Union and not be based on the existing illogical Barnett Formula.
    – The Constitutional Convention must report back by June 2016 and Labour and the Lib Dems must be committed from the agreement of the Terms of Reference to fully support its recommendations.
    – The Constitutional Convention’s recommendations must be implemented before 2018.

    Clearly the SNP would have to join Labour and the Lib Dems in accepting the findings of the Constitutional Convention and preferably this could be done without a UK wide referendum. My reason for not wanting to put matters to the UK public relate to the very true statement by Lord Heseltine on the BBC2 Daily Politics programme on 5-May-15 when he pointed out that UK public opinion is formed by ‘the way that newspapers handle the news over a significant period of time’. IF any Lib Dems need any convincing about this I’d refer them to the media coverage leading up to the 2011 AV Referendum and its outcome.

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