Saturday, May 19, 2007

Life on a knife-edge majority

It's going to be endless fun and games until:
the first Thursday in May in the fourth calendar year following that in which the previous ordinary general election was held.
Malcolm reckons that to be 5th May, 2011.

And here comes the next wee problem for First Minister Salmond:
Angela Constance, the representative for Livingston, is due to give birth to her first child in October.

Her expected absence will mean the SNP and Labour will have the same number of MSPs. This means that even with support from the Greens and either the Liberal Democrats or the Conservatives, the new government would be one vote short of a majority at Holyrood.

The situation could leave independent MSP Margo Macdonald in a particularly powerful position.

Yesterday, the opposition was cautious not to be seen to criticise Mrs Constance but admitted they would take advantage of the situation.
Malcolm wonders:
  • on what possible basis could Ms Constance be criticised?
  • on what basis The Scotsman refers to her as "Mrs" Constance? Her husband is a Mr Knox.
Of course, the SNP, with its usual finesse, brought the problem on itself by abandoning the pairing system some time back.

More irony, too: be careful what you wish for: you might get it.

It was back on 28th March, 1979, that the 11 SNP MPs supported a Tory vote of censure on the Callaghan Government. At that point, the Labour majority was one very sick MP, Alfred Broughton, in hospital with five days to live. Because the Tories and other parties called off all pairing arrangements, and because Jim Callaghan refused to bring a dying man two hundred miles to be "nodded through", the Government fell.

Callaghan's decision and Broughton's willingness to travel to London, despite all medical advice, were the about the extent of honourable behaviour in that affair. A special circle of Hell should be reserved for Frank Maguire, the Independent Republican MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, who left his bar for the occasion, and travelled to London to "abstain in person". He, too, got what he wished for -- Margaret Thatcher's Government.

Is anyone taking bets on whether the Salmond administration survives these next 1446 days? Sphere: Related Content

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