The Labour-SNP Coalition: A toxic mix or an interesting alliance?

As we move closer towards the General Election, voters are increasingly interested in a range of potential electoral outcomes and their impact on lives of ordinary citizens. One of such outcomes, which is now seen as quite likely by some political observers, is the prospect of the Labour-SNP Coalition, which causes both positive and negative attitudes within British public. Those on the right side of the political spectrum, including Conservative, UKIP voters and right-wing lenient voters, criticize such coalition as a messy union of left-wingers, where the “weak” Labour leader Ed Miliband would be dominated by a strong SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, creating a system of high taxes and increased spending, which will endanger the successes made by Conservative party. In contrast, those on the left wing on the political spectrum see this as an opportunity to reverse the perceived failures of the Conservative party, advancing instead a balance economic plan. Yet, as always in political life, the truth may well lie somewhat in between.

Undoubtedly, the SNP leader looks and is perceived as a potentially stronger leader than Ed Miliband, but her opportunity to dominate the Labour-SNP coalition looks limited.  In practice, if there would be a Labour-SNP Coalition, it is highly likely that such coalition would be dominated by a majority of Labour MPs, who will take the necessary efforts to ensure that Labour party emerges as a stronger side in such alliance. In terms of actual leadership capacities, while there is a strong credentials for a view that Sturgeon is stronger that Miliband, the Labour leader have strong electoral and leadership incentives to organize the possible coalition based on the dominance of his party, not the SNP. Electorally, regardless of any leadership limitations of Labour party under the leadership of Ed Miliband, Miliband represents a rational politician, who clearly acknowledges that in case of serious concessions to the SNP(such as another referendum on Scottish independence, or a ministerial post to Alex Salmond, as suggested by Conservatives), he will definitely be punished in the next general election not only by his voters, but also by those parts of the British electorate, who are unclear about their electoral choice, but have a clear negative attitude towards SNP.

In terms of the rhetoric deployed by some commentators (including Conservative elites) that such coalition would mean a left-wing government with high taxes and high spending, this part of the argument looks even more problematic in few respects. Practically, it is always impossible to predict what happens after the general election, particularly in such difficult and complex area as economics, which nowadays is increasingly affected by the globalization, activity of non-state actors and regional integration processes. Politically, the recent manifesto of Labour party demonstrates less spending and less taxes in comparison to the traditional Labour stance towards these issues, while giving more attention towards issue of economic restructurization. Finally, despite some important successes of the Conservative administration, the economic data on whether a stable economic recovery has been reached remains inconclusive, as illustrated by latest economic findings by IFS and IMF, which showed that there is still a lot of work to be done.

As a result, an analytical perspective shows the prospects of a Labour-SNP coalition may not look as scary as imagined by some parts of the British electorate and political observers.


One comment

  1. 13 May ’15 at 12:21 pm

    It's May 12th

    What genius on the editorial team decided to publish an article beginning with “as we move closer towards the General Election” almost a week after said election?

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