I’m confused. Apparently we should fear an Ed Miliband led Government because it would have to be propped up by the SNP. Nicola Sturgeon would be pulling the strings, we’re told. This would be a disaster for Britain, we’re told.
So frightened by the way this has polled in England, Mr Miliband has ruled out a coalition with the SNP. Then he ruled out a confidence & supply deal with the SNP. Last night he went on television and told the country that he would rather not be Prime Minister than make a deal with the SNP.
This is ridiculous. Firstly, Nicola Sturgeon is not even standing in this election. She won’t be a Member of Parliament at Westminster. If the next Government needs a deal over a particular vote, it won’t be Nicola Sturgeon who they take to one side in the lobby.
Secondly, we have just spent five years with a coalition Government. Has Nick Clegg held David Cameron to ransom in the coalition? I know some Liberal Democrats would say if only. No, they agreed on a programme and then delivered it – at some considerable political and personal cost to the Liberal Democrats.
Of course the Tories warn that it was the process of deal making that would make the SNP dangerous. They might be right there. But it is Ed Miliband’s response last night that I want to return to.
Mr Miliband said that he would rather not be Prime Minister than accept a deal with the SNP. Think about that statement for a moment. Is he really saying that if the election throws up a result where Mr Miliband could form a stable Government, just by dealing with the SNP, he would tell the Queen that he was sorry, but the future health of the Scottish Labour Party was more important than the nation? Would Miliband really become the first man since Lord Halifax in 1940 to refuse the offer to become Prime Minister?
In 2010 the country faced an immediate financial crisis. The meltdown in the Eurozone was happening as a backdrop to the coalition talks. People laugh now at comparisons with Greece, but there was a very real chance that we could have struggled to borrow money to keep the lights on.
Faced with that situation, Nick Clegg, the “Kingmaker” of that election, chose to go into a coalition that worked. The more stable of the two options. That brave decision has almost destroyed his party, but he took it because it was, in his view, the right thing to do. The country needed a stable Government, and that’s what he provided.
Yet, even before the election has finished, Ed Miliband has conceded that he won’t do the right thing. He would rather see a minority Government limp along without the ability to govern than do the right thing. He would rather see David Cameron as Prime Minister than form a stable Government.
Some will call his announcement that he’d rather not be PM than deal with the SNP one of principle. I can’t do that. I condemn him. His words condemn him. He is putting his partisan interests ahead of the nation. For that he deserves to lose.