Former Scottish Government minister urges a progressive alliance in order to create the best possible UK Government for Scotland
FORMER Scottish justice minister Kenny MacAskill has said that the people of Scotland could “blame” the SNP if the “most rightwing Tory Government in a generation” is returned to power in 2020, necessitating a progressive alliance.
MacAskill made the comments in a meeting on the subject of co-operation between centre left parties at Westminster, at the IdeaSpace 2016 SNP conference fringe festival. He spoke in a session on possible co-operation between the SNP, Labour and the Green Party.
Speaking to an audience of SNP delegates alongside SNP MP Philippa Whitford, Compass think tank director Neal Lawson and Green party of England and Wales co-leader Jonathan Bartley, MacAskill said that the idea of an alliance, possibly based on a shared programme of opposition to Trident and Austerity and support for proportional representation, which could be agreed to by candidates from different parties.
Failure to do so might leave SNP voters feeling let down by the party, MacAskill argued.
He said: “We will not going to be to become the government in 2020.
“We can become the third party, we can even become the effective opposition, but we can never form the government at Westminster, that’s always been our problem.”
“People from the housing schemes will say I voted in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2020 and nothing changed. So what’s the point in voting?” Kenny MacAskill
Therefore, he argued, the SNP should take the idea of an alliance seriously in order to create the “best possible” government at Westminster, which may also be a government more amenable to the idea of granting a second independence referendum.
Failure to do so may cause the SNP’s new found support to turn against the party.
He said: “Our people…will see us as failing to deliver the change they wanted.”
“And they will stop voting.
“People from the housing schemes will say I voted in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2020 and nothing changed. So what’s the point in voting?
“If we sacrifice them to a decade of tory rule we will take the blame.”
Whitford was more sceptical about the idea of a progressive alliance, saying centre left parties should work together in parliament, but also saying that the “main challenge” to the project was Labour, which was confused and hostile to the SNP.
Johnson, who was elected as green co-leader alongside Caroline Lucas MP in September, said that the project needed to include social movements and come “from the bottom up” rather than be a top down process arranged by party leaders.
Lawson, who has organised cross-party events to promote the idea of the alliance, said: “We live under and electoral system that favours the right.”
“In order to meet and govern the increasingly complex society, we need a more complex politics.
“It [progressive alliance] has to be a way we prefigure a new type of politics.”
Proportional representation (PR), Lawson said, was fundamental to re-organising UK politics and should bind together the left. He paid tribute to the SNP for consistently supporting PR, even after the system delivered the party 56 of 59 Scottish seats in the 2015 general election.
Boundary changes administered by the conservative party are expected to reduce the presence of leftwing political parties at Westminster, where the electoral system already favours the right.
Picture courtesy of Scottish Government
Check out what people are saying about how important CommonSpace is. Pledge your support today.