Tory-Labour coalition needed to prevent UK breakup, says Lord Baker
Following May’s general election, the Conservatives and Labour should form a coalition government to prevent the SNP from holding the balance of power and destroying the union, former Tory chairman Lord Baker of Dorking said.
A Labour-SNP coalition would be a “nightmare”, Lord Baker said, predicting that it could “stretch the constitution of our country to breaking point.”
The idea of a deal between Ed Miliband and David Cameron seems “quite unthinkable” at the moment, Lord Baker accepts. However, he points to unlikely coalitions that have occurred abroad, such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats with the Social Democrats.
Could Ed Miliband (left) and David Cameron work together?
In a Comment on Friday’s Independent, Lord Baker points to a recent Ashcroft poll forecasting a dead heat between Labour and Tories with 272 seats each, and the SNP grabbing 56 of Scotland’s 59 seats, totally wiping out Labour north of the border.
If Mr. Salmond held the balance of power?
Lord Baker invites the reader to consider what would occur if Ashcroft’s poll scenario came true, with Alex Salmond holding the balance of power on behalf of the Scottish Nationalists in the House of Commons.
The SNP, which has publicly ruled out any deal with a Conservative government, would seriously consider forming a government with Labour. It would hold the balance of power in such critical voting issues as the Queen’s Speech, the Budget, and motions of confidence.
While Labour might initially see the deal as an electoral triumph, it could turn out to become a total nightmare, Lord Baker fears.
Lord Baker wrote in the Independent:
“Mr. Salmond would demand a high price for his support. He has already banked the promises of further devolution following the 2014 referendum and he would assuredly demand more powers to be devolved, which will move Scotland closer to independence and the break-up of the UK.”
For Labour and the UK, a coalition with the SNP would become a “nightmare”, Lord Baker warns.
He points out the irony of Scotland rejecting independence, and later England – “The Mother of Parliaments” – getting it.
In that nightmare, Labour would be handcuffed by the Scottish votes on any legislation related to domestic English issues, Lord Baker explains. “English issues. If changes, for example, in the English education system or on tax matters (where these measures are devolved to Holyrood) are only able to be passed in the Commons thanks to Scottish MPs voting for them, it would stretch the constitution of our country to breaking point,” he wrote.
Sir John Major gives same warning
Former Prime Minister Sir John Major earlier this week expressed a similar fear, warning that the Scottish Nationalists would enter any deal with Labour in order to ultimately achieve their aim of “prising apart” the UK.
Sir John wrote in the Telegraph today:
“A Labour-SNP alliance would be a lethal cocktail for the United Kingdom. The two parties loathe and distrust one another in Scotland. At Westminster, SNP minds would not be focused on the well-being of the United Kingdom, but on their own party interests.”
“In collaboration, the two parties would make common cause at the expense of their natural enemies. For Labour, that will be to pick the pockets of the Tory Shires; and for the SNP, to boost Scotland at the expense of the rest of the UK.”
A coalition with the SNP would be a “lethal cocktail”, Sir John Major believes.
In an interview with Stephen Nolan on BBC Radio 5 Live, Lord Baker said:
“One of the real dangers is that the SNP would be led in the Commons by Alex Salmond, who is a very shrewd politician. He could secure even more levels of devolution. That would lead more to the break-up of the United Kingdom. I think it would be a considerable threat.”
“The Scottish Parliament was created by Labour. They said the one way you can keep our country together is to create a Scottish Parliament. Well, that is not clearly the position.”
David Cameron has called on Ed Miliband to rule out a coalition with the SNP, describing it as the worst outcome from the general election. “You cannot let the people who want to break up our country into the government of our country.”