A nightmare scenario

As ever, Andrew Tickell does an excellent job of taking us through the rules and procedures of the Scottish Parliament. His account of how Nicola Sturgeon might force an early Scottish general election is intriguing. But there is one possible twist to the hypothetical tale which either hasn’t occurred to him or, more likely, was considered too outlandish even in an age of bizarre politics – the Grand Alliance.

Suppose that, when Nicola Sturgeon resigns as First Minister, instead of “the ridiculous spectacle of a Davidson-Leonard contest” envisioned by Andrew we had the rather less amusing spectacle of the British parties in Holyrood forming an alliance sufficiently workable to avoid “complete ungovernability”?

Is this really so difficult to imagine? It may not be easy to see such a Grand Alliance working in the longer term, but how long would it have to last in order to foil Nicola Sturgeon’s devious plan to bring about an early election? If the British parties could cobble together any kind of administration and keep it limping along for even a few weeks, Ms Sturgeon would be left looking every bit as foolish as Theresa May did in the aftermath of the snap UK general election in 2017.

There was a time when a formal association between the two main British parties – even at the North Britain branch level – would have been unthinkable. But that all changed in June 2012 with the formation of Better Together / Project Fear. That set the precedent. It is now not possible – or, at least, not sensible – to discount the possibility of a Grand Alliance of British parties in the Scottish Parliament.

Such an alliance would be justified in terms of a shared British Nationalist ideology which readily overcomes the already uncertain political differences between the British Conservative & Unionist Party in Scotland (BCUPS) and British Labour in Scotland (BLiS). Because we’ve seen it before from their predecessors, it is all too easy to imagine Leonard and Davidson sharing a platform festooned with Union flags; and to hear the grandiloquent speeches about a shared determination to “protect our precious Union” and “save Scotland from the evil of the SNP”. Rhetoric which would be echoed by their respective bosses in London, both of whom would eagerly seize the opportunity to play the ‘unity’ card in the hope of trumping the Mad Brexiteer insurgency threatening the cosy two-party arrangement which has served the British establishment so effectively for decades.

If the thought of a Grand Alliance of British parties wresting control of Holyrood from the Scottish parties doesn’t give you nightmares then reflect for a moment on the damage such an administration could do. Think of the ways it could use even temporary power to advance the ‘One Nation’ British Nationalist project. The possibility of such an alliance may be remote. But the prospect is horrifying. Could Nicola Sturgeon afford to take a chance?

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12 thoughts on “A nightmare scenario

  1. Terrifying indeed. But unlikely I think, given the loathsome characters vying for leadership of the Tory Party, all of whom are anathema to most Scots. Even I f there were a popular Tory leader who could unite the English branch and pacify the population down south, the arithmetic in Scotland is still fifty-fifty. I believe that the differences in self interest between the Unionist factions would be too heavy to form a coalition and the unity of the independence movement too strong. Another option would be a grand committee of all Scottish representatives at all parliaments recalled to Scotland to govern in the national interest. A bit less passive than waiting around! 🙂


      1. How about the following as nightmare scenario?
        Rory the Tory musters a One Nation campaign as Boris disgraces himself and is taken out of the running.
        A sort of Tory Corbyn?


        1. I have said from the outset that we should be wary of Rory Stewart. His campaign in the Tory leadership race has been suspiciously well coordinated and slick. He has backers we don’t get to know about.

          Liked by 1 person

      2. Peter
        Its more than speculation. One of the biggest risk in YES is people assuming Westminster won’t change the ground rules. Where as, indications for some time have been that every facet where Scotland has any power is at risk.

        The future will not be just like 2014 but YES gets another referendum…I fear there will even not be a Hollyrood for much longer. Let alone any mechanism to call or hold a vote.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve long feared that the Unionist parties will do just this, whenever a Holyrood election is called. They collaborate on city councils already, just to keep the SNP out. I have no doubt whatever that unless the SNP gets another majority (with or without Greens), Holyrood will go to a grand coalition of Britnats.


  3. The above scenario is just a bit of intersting discussion.
    However, I am of the opinion, as are many others, SNP leadership has been too slow here, and focusing exclusively on the Referendum option, is not helping matters.
    That has to change… After all, if the pro London lot can change their stance, within days, as it turns out, so should those wanting an end to the Union.


    1. The referendum is not optional. The choice lies in the route taken to get to the referendum. Until recently, it looked very much as if Nicola Sturgeon was committed to taking the Section 30 route, as in the 2014 referendum. There is now reason to think this may just have been a case of her playing her cards close to her chest. The Referendums Bill gives cause to suppose she and Mike Russell are, at the very least, keeping other options open.

      I’d make two further points here. The first is that we must support the First Minister even if we are not entirely convinced about her approach. We hired her to do the job, so to speak, and now we have to let her get on with it. There is no-one else.

      Secondly, we should keep up the pressure on the First Minister. The previous point should not be taken to mean that we should all just keep quiet and let her get on with it. She needs us to be ever more vocal in our demands for a new referendum and our condemnation of the Union. This could well include criticism of the way she is doing things or insistence that she does things differently. So long as we are careful about how we frame our comments; ensuring that we are not seen to be undermining the First Minister’s authority.

      Urging Nicola Sturgeon not to request a Section 30 order is fine. Demanding that she step down and let someone else do the job certainly isn’t. Not all the distinctions will be quite so clear-cut. We need to be a bit clever.


  4. Oh, I think the very idea of a Grand Unionist Coalition would be a wonderful notion. Even just the prospect of it would surely bang the final nail in the coffin of BLiS that they custom-built for themselves in 2014.The final betrayal. Folk would also be reminded of the late unlamented LibCon coalition in London, so little joy for the FibDems either. Especially after their preposterous little soap bubble, that all by themselves they will somehow magically save the whole UK from Brexit, soundlessly bursts. As it very soon will.

    So I seriously doubt the notion would fly. On the contrary, I think the very possibility of it would scare even more voters into the arms of the SNP. Including those traditionally leery of independence but aghast at the thought of any of these half-wit Unionists getting anywhere near any lever of power, and who would in consequence finally decide to go full-indy instead.

    So “bring it on!” (to coin a phrase)

    Liked by 1 person

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