Labour in chaos as Scottish branch rejects anti-Tory coalition with SNP

The Labour party is in turmoil north of the border after senior MSPs angrily rejected suggestions of an anti-Tory pact with the SNP at Westminster.  Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale was joined by MSPs Jackie Baillie and James Kelly in a public show of defiance after the party’s new Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland refused to rule out a House of Commons coalition with the nationalists.

Dave Anderson, who replaced Ian Murray as the Shadow Scottish Secretary after the latter resigned during the ‘Corbyn Coup’, said a coalition with the SNP may be a price worth paying to keep the Tories out of power.

Anderson, who is the MP for Blaydon in the north east of England, was on a trip to Scotland when he was quizzed on a possible pact with SNP MPs.

He said: “It is far too early to even contemplate that but what I am not prepared to do on behalf of the Labour Party nationally is to rule that out completely.

“If that is the price that we have to pay to prevent another rabid right-wing Tory government then, I tell you what it is, we have got to at least think about it and discuss it.

“Three and a half years before a possible general election it is a conversation we don’t need to have.

“Obviously Scottish Labour would be the loudest voice in the room if and when we ever … have to contemplate coalition.”

The comments follow similar remarks Mr Anderson made in an interview he gave to The Herald newspaper where he said of an SNP coalition, “I would hope we don’t ever need one”, but added “If we get further down that line we may well have to consider it.”

However in what appears to be a sign of panic within Scottish Labour ranks, senior Labour MSPs posted tweets proclaiming their opposition to any deal with the SNP.  Holyrood leader Kezia Dugdale, responding to a barb from Conservative counterpart Ruth Davidson, tweeted “Unlike the Tories in 07-11, Scottish Labour doesn’t support any deal with the SNP.”

Shortly afterwards, colleague Jackie Baillie tweeted: “No matter what you read, Scottish Labour does not support a UK gov deal with the SNP. The SNP want to break up the UK not make it better.”

MSP James Kelly followed, tweeting: “Scottish Labour will have no truck with general election deals with the SNP. We won’t give power to a party that wants to split the country.”

no deal tweets

The tweets signal Scottish Labour’s increasing reliance on the hard-line Unionist vote for electoral survival.  The recent Scottish elections saw the Scottish Conservatives out-manoeuvre their Unionist rival by adopting a hard pro-Union line during the campaign.  Ruth Davidson relegated Kezia Dugdale into third place.

The split between Dugdale and Labour’s Shadow Scottish Secretary follows similar rifts within the party north of the border.  Scottish Labour’s Deputy leader Alex Rowley recently signalled his backing for a second independence referendum – a stance that is at odds with that of leader Kezia Dugdale.

Rowley, along with several other Labour MSPs, also backs Jeremy Corbyn in the contest for the Labour leadership.  Dugdale has called on Corbyn to step down.

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6 thoughts on “Labour in chaos as Scottish branch rejects anti-Tory coalition with SNP

  1. Andy Borland

    “Obviously Scottish Labour (sic) would be the loudest voice in the room if and when we ever …. have to contemplate coalition.”

    The loudest voice certainly.

    But the voice with least authority or weight.

    Dave Anderson appears to be a Labour man who has just the right combination of patronisation and condescension to go far in the party!

  2. Jimbo

    The war for the OO vote.

    Must be a bit of a quandary for the OO – Who to vote for, those idiots who issue permits and pay for our OO walks or the ultra right Conservative and Unionist Party?

  3. Jams O'Donnell

    Good to see that the Scottish branch is tearing itself apart too. Eventually we will see it disappear, and allow a badly needed real Scottish left wing movement to emerge.

  4. David Macqueen

    Scottish Labour seem to disagree with just about everything the UK Labour party suggest is best for Scotland. The new shadow Scottish Secretary seems to grasp we have our own identity and National pride. Scottish Labour does not. Purely down to the people that are leading the branch office merrily down the path to oblivion

    It’s ironic they have just won a by-election with the support of the Tories
    Better together? Those two are one and the same. #defunct

  5. vagabondo

    I wonder whether James Kelly MSP considered retweeting Annie Wells’ and Brian Whittle’s (both Con and Unionist MSPs) congratulations to Labour on getting their their candidate for Irvine West onto the council with the help of a massive transfer of Con and Unionist second preference votes.

    How many Labour members voted for Ruthie in May because they thought she had more chance than Kezzie? The Unionist coalition seems to be clinging together in increasing desperation.

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