Ian Birrell: The two parties have more in common with each other than with the insurgents. A national government would prevent a constitutional crisis
Now we have this possibility being explored in the British media.* It isn’t a joke any more. Kites are being flown. Elbows are being dipped in the waters of public opinion. A Tory/Labour coalition is now being discussed openly as a readily imaginable scenario.
More imaginable, I suspect, for people in Scotland who have the recent experience of seeing British Labour standing shoulder-to-shoulder with their Tory allies in a desperate effort to preserve the structures of power and privilege which define the British state. and from which both parties benefit greatly. The inexorable rise of the SNP and other Scottish parties is, in part at least, explained by the fact the distinction between the main British parties has been all but blurred out of existence.
Scotland has pretty much shrugged off the old politics of faux rivalries and interminable spin. In Scotland, politics is now much more about policies than parties. It is about issues, not sound-bites. It is about people, not personalities. The old Tory/Labour division is barely relevant. Increasingly, the division is between the British parties, which represent the old politics; the old order; and the old ways, and the Scottish parties, which represent the new, progressive politics that has arisen out of the positive, aspirational grass-roots Yes campaign.
Ian Birrell tries to put a gloss on this possible Tory/Labour coalition by portraying it as “government of national unity”. A nice bit of spin in itself. But he gives the game away with his use of pejorative, emotive and, some would say, downright insulting terms such as “insurgent” and “militant” to refer to those who are doing no more than using lawful democratic processes to challenge an unacceptable and untenable status quo.
By his use of such language Birrell reveals a British establishment that sees itself as besieged by political forces it neither understands, nor wants to understand – only to obliterate. The ruling elites of the British state are under threat. It is only to be expected that the British establishment will close ranks to defend the established order. Under such circumstances, a Tory/Labour coalition becomes not only imaginable, but almost inevitable.
But let there be no mistake, for all that this alliance will be represented as being for the benefit of the people of these islands, it has but one purpose. It is entirely about thwarting the democratic will of the people of Scotland. It is all about stopping the SNP and the tide of dissent that success for the SNP is likely to unleash.
British politicians are scared of the people. And that’s just the way I like it.
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