Tag Archives: backbencher

Tick tock, Tory Theresa, is your time up?

On her way: She’s managed to dodge the bullet for nearly two years, but is she about to resign at long, long last – putting US out of her misery?

It’s looking bad for Theresa May. She may be ousted on the eve of the European Parliament elections she promised we wouldn’t have to hold.

After the disaster that was the introduction of her third (and final?) attempt to get an EU Withdrawal Bill passed by Parliament, it seems she may be facing a full-scale Cabinet revolt and demands for her resignation.

Apparently Sajid Javid, Jeremy Hunt and David Mundell (he’s Secretary of State for Scotland, by the way) have all requested meetings with Mrs May, but have all been rebuffed.

It seems Penny Mordaunt is also saying she can’t support the new Withdrawal Bill. Reporters are saying it’s an indirect way of telling Mrs May to go, while being able to say that they never overtly demanded it.

The sticking-point seems to be the promise related to another referendum.

Meanwhile the Tory backbench 1922 committee is meeting with the Chief Whip, Julian Smith – to discuss rule changes that will allow an immediate vote of “no confidence” in Mrs May’s leadership.

Tory MPs are openly telling the broadcast media that she has to go – and not the usual suspects, either. Here’s Tom Tugendhat:

And here’s Tim Loughton:

Former Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb has also said she should resign as soon as possible.

We are told there will be no statement from 10 Downing Street this evening.

Judging from past form, that means there will be a statement from 10 Downing Street this evening.

It’s all very disappointing for This Writer.

For once, I don’t have any popcorn in the house.

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May running scared from debate shows even SHE has no confidence in herself

December 17 was a big day in the House of Commons.

Theresa May turned up to report her pathetic – miserable? Abject? – failure to bring back anything useful from her meetings with EU leaders last week over her Brexit deal (in fact she ended up with less security than when she left the UK).

Jeremy Corbyn told her to stop hanging about and set a date for the delayed “meaningful vote”, in which Parliament can provide its verdict on the deal, demand changes, and even delay the UK’s departure from the EU, if it is deemed necessary in order to get an acceptable agreement.

Mrs May said it would happen on January 14, nearly a month from now and five weeks after the date originally set for the vote (which Mrs May called off when she realised she didn’t have a chance of winning it).

Mr Corbyn said, “I should bleedin’ cocoa,” or words to that effect, and tabled a motion of “no confidence” in Mrs May. And didn’t she look old, when he was doing it? Tired out; defeated … I wouldn’t be surprised if she resigned.

In her immediate response, though, Mrs May… ran away.

She scuttled out of the House of Commons like a scalded rat.

Subsequent developments suggest she cleared off to get legal advice on reasons to deny Mr Corbyn his debate (the government may refuse to allow a debate and vote on his motion, although a good reason is expected).

Before she responded – not in person, of course; she got some flunky to do it – both the Democratic Unionist Party (which had been propping up Mrs May’s minority government until its MPs realised she had double-crossed him over the Irish border ‘backstop’ arrangement) and Jacob Rees-Mogg, spokesman for the Tory backbench European Research Group (who had demanded his own vote of “no confidence” – in Mrs May’s leadership of the Conservative Party because he didn’t like her Brexit deal either) declared that Mrs May had their full support.

This means the DUP is now a gang of hypocrites who have betrayed their voters by supporting a deal that could lead to Northern Ireland quitting the UK and rejoining the Irish Republic…

… and the ERG, along with any other Tories who voted against Mrs May but planned to support her in Mr Corbyn’s vote, are also a gang of hypocrites because they actually voted to remove Mrs May from office, less than a week ago.

To quote the (soon-to-be-former?) prime minister herself, nothing has changed – so the 117 Tories who voted against her have no reason to change their minds.

(That’s unless you count the fact that Brexit is due to happen right before a new EU law comes into force that penalises tax evaders and Mrs May’s plans ensure that it won’t apply to the UK – although the reason they might want to get out of the bloc before falling under the jurisdiction of such legislation just… I don’t know… escapes me.)

Late in the evening, Mrs May’s flunky turned up with an excuse to deny Mr Corbyn his vote of “no confidence” in Mrs May.

No sweat. It seems Mr Corbyn intended to escalate his motion to “no confidence” to one in the government if the government blocked his motion against Mrs May – for obvious reasons.

As it is, he was pre-empted by the leaders of the other opposition parties. They wanted to make Labour look bad for failing to demand a vote of “no confidence” against the government in the first place (even though such a vote would have been lost; the motion against Mrs May had to come first, because it puts the screws on the other MPs who had turned on her).

Oh yeah, and the Tory-supporting mass media have been pretending that those other opposition leaders are right, in a desperate bid to stop Mrs May and her Brexit deal looking like what they are.

Apparently someone on Newsnight didn’t get the memo and called them for what they are.

So at start of play on Tuesday:

  • The DUP have been outed as hypocrites for supporting Mrs May in spite of that party’s own policies.
  • The ERG has been outed as hypocrites for supporting Mrs May in spite of her failure to give them any of the assurances they wanted.
  • The Tory backbenchers who voted against Mrs May last week will be hypocrites if they don’t vote against her in whatever “no confidence” motion actually happens.
  • The leaders of the opposition parties that aren’t Labour are hypocrites because they have been briefing against Mr Corbyn for failing to call a “confidence” motion against Mrs May’s government that they know can’t be won on its own; the people mentioned immediately above had to be reminded of their own behaviour first.
  • The Tory-supporting mainstream media are a very poor joke.
  • Mr Corbyn is golden.
  • And Theresa May is toast. It is clear that she does not have the confidence of the House of Commons; otherwise she would have allowed MPs to discuss the motion of “no confidence” in her.

I can’t wait for whatever happens next. If someone calls Mr Corbyn an anti-Semite again, we’ll know they’re scraping the bottom of the barrel.

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Seven things we learned from Theresa May’s ‘confidence’ vote

Theresa May: Thanks to Conservative MPs, we’ve all been stuck with lame duck for Christmas. And we’ll all be stuffed!

Theresa May – now a lame duck prime minister – hauled herself out onto the steps of 10 Downing Street to make a statement after winning a ‘confidence’ vote in her leadership, held by Conservative MPs.

It wasn’t convincing – but then, neither was her victory. She won by a margin of just 83 votes. Of those who voted for her, 139 were members of the government and were voting to keep themselves in higher-paying jobs. She had support from only around one-third of backbenchers.

And support for her Brexit deal in Parliament can be seen to stand at just 200 votes – although this may change, depending on the corruptibility of MPs’ opinions.

Here’s Graham Brady, announcing the result, followed by Mrs May’s statement:

https://twitter.com/rosskempsell/status/1072967308849676300

So what have we learned from the vote? Consider the following:

1. Mrs May gained four votes fewer than Margaret Thatcher in 1990. Thatcher resigned, but May has said she is determined to continue*.

The vote shows fewer Tory backbenchers support Mrs May than supported John Major when he faced a confidence vote.

By the way, the ConservativeHome website conducted a snap survey of party members that revealed two-thirds of them want Mrs May replaced as leader:

https://twitter.com/Ollie4themany/status/1072960620205670405

2. She only won the votes she had by promising to resign before the next general election*, which suggests that far fewer Tory MPs have real confidence in her leadership than was demonstrated by the result of the ballot.

3. She restored the party whip to two MPs who had been suspended because of sexual misconduct – and allegations of the same. This shows she remains capable of huge failures of judgement.

4. Her Brexit deal is dead; she can only muster 200 votes for it, from among 650 MPs.

… Or is it? Remember, Tories are notorious for lying and going back on their claims. Mrs May has a little time with which to bribe her rebellious backbenchers.

On the other hand…

5. Brexiters in the Conservative Party are a bunch of hypocrites.

But this does not help Mrs May as they oppose her. Mr Rees-Mogg has already stated that he hopes Mrs May will resign:

6. She has given the Democratic Unionist Party another reason to ditch the ‘confidence and supply’ arrangement that keeps her government in office.

https://twitter.com/ToryFibs/status/1072966961624219656

https://twitter.com/ToryFibs/status/1072959949205061632

Add it all together and there’s only one conclusion possible:

7. Winning the confidence vote was the worst result Mrs May could have had.

It will be interesting to see if she does bring her deal back to Parliament next week.

If not, the result will be worse for her.

*I know: What Mrs May says and what she does are two separate things. We’ll have to see whether this is yet another of the lies for which this clergyman’s daughter has now become notorious.

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Why has the number of letters of ‘no confidence’ in Theresa May apparently FALLEN?

Theresa May: A confidence vote from her backbenchers is the least of her worries. Her alliance with the DUP is falling apart and she no longer has the ability to pass legislation. Her government is a lame duck.

What the blazes is going on in the Conservative Party?

We have been told – for months now – that disgruntled Conservative backbenchers have been sending letters demanding a vote of ‘no confidence’ in Theresa May to the chairman of their 1922 Committee, Graham Brady, and that a vote against her would be triggered if her received 48 such letters.

All the indications were that more than 40 such letters had arrived by the middle of last week, when Jacob Rees-Mogg put his own letter in and appealed for others to do so.

But today the headlines are full of the failure to reach the required number and the humiliation of the Brexiteers of the Tory European Research Group (ERG) that wanted it.

And while Nadine Dorris on the BBC’s Politics Live thinks 46 letters have been submitted, other reports suggest only 24 are in Mr Brady’s possession.

What’s going on? Why are we hearing that the number of ‘no confidence’ letters has fallen?

Is somebody lying?

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May survives meeting with Tory backbenchers – but was the confrontation stage-managed?

A crunch meeting with disgruntled Tory backbenchers proved to be nothing of the sort for Theresa May in what members of her own party claimed – before it happened – was a “rigged” event, with loyalists in key places to “desk bang and cheer”.

Mrs May was said to have been summoned to the meeting of the Tory 1922 Committee on October 24 in order to persuade MPs not to submit the required 48 letters demanding a vote of “no confidence” in her leadership – to plead for her career, in effect.

But the meeting showed no evidence of any threat to her. Nadine ‘Mad Nad’ Dorries reckons it was stage managed by the Conservative Party whips – all of whom were, apparently, in attendance:

Mrs May turned up, gave a speech, and walked away with her position intact:

Some critics have seen this as proof of what we’ve seen many times before – that Tories are all talk. If their Parliamentary majority is under threat, they will always defer to whoever happens to be the leader:

Was it really a stitch-up by party whips?

Probably not.

See, for opponents of Mrs May, this is a mathematics problem.

A rebellion by the backbenchers requires 48 of them to send letters, demanding a “no confidence” vote in Theresa May, to Sir Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 Committee. After that, 160 Tory MPs would have to vote against her.

That’s a tall order!

A better bet would be voting against Mrs May’s proposed Brexit deal, when it finally comes back to Parliament – and in whatever form it finally takes. Only around 15 votes would be needed to achieve that defeat, and it is possible that she would not recover.

But there is a random element: A small number of Labour Brexiters might defy their party’s whip to support Mrs May.

They could do it to ensure that the UK leaves the EU – or they could do it to ensure that the Tories remain stuck with their lame-duck leader, who will turn public opinion further and further against them, the longer she stays in Downing Street.

Neither would be wonderful for the United Kingdom, but these are Labour Brexiters, so that is hardly likely to enter into their calculations.

The end result is that Mrs May remains the titular – but ineffective – head of the Conservative Party and the Tory government, but her position remains precarious in the extreme.

As for the 1922 committee, and its failure to carry out a simple function for the good of the UK – here’s a tweet that sums it up perfectly (apologies for the naughty word at the end):

Who can argue with that?

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Cabinet ‘row’ puts Theresa May in serious danger from Tory backstabbers*

Backstabbers: This is an old image but you get the point (even if Theresa May didn’t at the time).

Theresa May’s political career is edging ever-closer to the abyss after a stormy Cabinet meeting over her failure to find a solution to the Irish border problem and the associated threat of a “no-deal” Brexit.

A group of ministers including Jeremy Hunt, Liz Truss and Michael Gove demanded a time limit on any “backstop” – a temporary arrangement allowing extra time to find a way to keep a ‘soft’ border between Northern Ireland and the Republic if one cannot be reached before the UK leaves the EU. But another group including David Lidington insisted that the EU would not agree an exit deal without an indefinite “backstop”.

In other words, they spent an extraordinarily long meeting squabbling among themselves.

That is exactly the way Conservative backbenchers have come to view these debates. And, with Mrs May summoned to a meeting of the backbench 1922 committee today (October 24), at which she is expected to plead for their support, it seems unlikely that she will get it.

Instead, she is more likely to find that the number of letters demanding a vote of “no confidence” against her, sent to 1922 committee chairman Sir Graham Brady, has increased beyond the 48 necessary to precipitate such a vote.

It seems MPs in the “silent centre” – not deep in the Brexit fight, as Beth Rigby characterises them below – have lost patience with the incessant arguments among their leaders and are now keen to end the dithering by ending the tenure of their leader:

But how close is that confidence vote? Evolve Politics has a view about that:

Mrs May must be regretting the use of that 95 per cent figure. It was used in a Commons debate on Monday to suggest that the Brexit deal is nearly complete – and a Labour MP immediately observed that the Titanic completed 95 per cent of its journey without incident (and we all know how that story ended).

The claim isn’t even true, though – according to Labour (and Remainer) MEP Richard Corbett:

So: No deal with the EU can be supported in Parliament because the Cabinet cannot agree on it – and in any case there is much more yet to be resolved.

Backbenchers’ minds will be focused on the reputational damage to their party if a “no-deal” Brexit takes place. Mr Lidington reportedly fears it cause as much harm as Black Wednesday, when the Pound crashed out of the then-European Exchange Rate Mechanism under a Conservative government, wrecking the Tories’ then-reputation as a party of economic competence.

If Mrs May stays and Brexit is fumbled, the Conservatives could be out of office for at least a generation. Considering the current state of the party’s membership – whose average age is well past 70 – they may never recover.

These are valid reasons for backbenchers to seek Mrs May’s removal, and they may decide that is the best course of action at the meeting.

Or will she fob them off with more flannel about how well her plans are proceeding?

*I know there’s a separate row about the use of metaphors involving physical violence in our political discourse. But references to Conservative leaders being stabbed in the back by their own MPs go back at least as far as Edward Heath, the first Conservative prime minister in This Writer’s lifetime. Margaret Thatcher did the dirty on him, as Geoffrey Howe later did to her.

Tory selfishness: MPs threaten rebellion against Theresa May – because they might lose their seats


Conservative MPs are threatening a rebellion against Theresa May over Universal Credit – not because of the harm being done to vulnerable people, but because they’re afraid they might lose their cushy Parliamentary jobs over it.

Here‘s how the story is being reported in The Independent:

The article states: “Tory rebels will defeat the government unless huge cuts for people moving onto universal credit are stopped, Philip Hammond has been warned.

“Up to 30 Conservative backbenchers are ready to act unless the hardest-hit groups – single parents and second earners in families – are given urgent help, one predicted.

“The number is many more than is needed to overturn Theresa May’s fragile majority of just 13, even if she clings onto the support of the Democratic Unionist Party.

“Crucially, regulations still need to be passed to move millions more people onto the controversial new benefits system, creating a clear opening for a Conservative revolt.”

The story that backbenchers are concerned about their constituents who claim Universal Credit – or will in the future – is heartwarming. If only it were true.

Here’s Clare Hepworth to deliver the reality check:

That’s right. These people were happy to put the boot in when they thought there would be no backlash against them.

It’s only now their own easy life is in danger that they’re starting to show concern.

Fake concern.

And that’s no concern at all. It might last until the next general election but if they managed to hoodwink people into electing them again, you can bet they’d be pulling on the jackboots to give the poor a hard kicking the very next day.

Here‘s the sticking-point:

The Independent (again) elaborates:

The article states: “The Conservatives have been hit by a shortage of candidates for the next general election because activists are “demoralised” by Theresa May’s leadership and fear defeat, a party insider has revealed.

“The number of applications is “down on previous years across the board”, the prime minister has been warned – even as the turmoil at Westminster cuts the odds on a snap poll.

“Some branches in target seats have been forced to postpone decisions, despite pressure to get candidates in place early, the executive editor of the ConservativeHome website said.

“The warning comes as the Democratic Unionist Party’s threat to pull its backing for the Tories in a bitter clash over Brexit leaves the government’s future in growing doubt.

“Without the DUP, Ms May lacks a majority and – if unable to pass a budget – will face demands to accept she is unable to govern and must stand down.

“There was also widespread “pessimism about the next election”, with only about one-third of party members expecting an outright Conservative victory.”

Reading between the lines, we may conclude that a general election may happen soon and the Conservatives are in no position to win it, as only around a third of party members believe they can win and the kind of people applying to be candidates in target seats are unlikely to change that outlook.

That’s why backbenchers are suddenly looking for an issue that will make them more popular with the general public – and that’s why they have suddenly developed bleeding hearts over Universal Credit.

But they seem to have forgotten something we all learned recently (during votes on Theresa May’s plans for Brexit):

That’s right. There are no Tory rebels. They always fall back into line when push comes to shove – even when they know Mrs May is betraying them.

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Here’s why all the Brexit focus is on Labour: the Tories are fighting a silent civil war

Theresa May at Policy Exchange, wondering which policies she can exchange for peace within her own political party.

This Site has mentioned the Tory problem with Brexit before, I think – but let’s make it clear: Any announcement Theresa Maybe makes will trigger division among her own party.

Conservative backbenchers were at each other’s throats over the EU before the referendum and they will be again. So will Mrs May’s cabinet, as it contains both Remainers and Quitters.

The longer she delays any policy announcements, the more she manufactures vacuous soundbites like “Brexit means Brexit”, or “Red, white and blue Brexit”, the worse it is likely to be for her and her party in the end.

The Conservative Party is, in fact, far more divided over Brexit than Labour ever could be; divisions or contradictions in Labour have to be manufactured by right-wing journalists, as we have seen today (January 10).

Perhaps those journalists would be better-employed demanding no more delay from Mrs May. Let the Tory blood-letting commence.

The reason why Theresa May is so silent on her Brexit plans is because, as soon as she comes off the fence, the Tory party civil war on Europe will flare up again in public.

The divisions between those who consider it vital that Britain continues to participate in the single market and those who are determined to wrench Britain away from any connection to Europe run deep.

On the one hand, people like Michael Gove say:

We don’t want or need to be in the single market (…) We don’t want to be bound by being members of the customs union. Outside we can negotiate new trade deals with emerging economies. Inside we’re trapped.

On the other hand Tory grandee and former chancellor Ken Clarke argues that “you cannot leave a market of 500 million people without making yourself poorer than you otherwise would be” and Anna Soubry, former business minister, has called on her leader to “show she’s prepared to stand up to the hardline, fall-off-a-cliff Brexiteers and say, ‘no, we’re not going to do it your way’”.

Within the Tory party, anyone who calls for a more specific definition than ‘Brexit means Brexit’ is dubbed one of the ‘new bastards.’

Source: The Tory civil war will re-ignite – Richard Corbett

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Labour ‘fiscal charter’ rebels are ignoring the evidence

Mr McDonnell in Redcar with shadow business secretary Angela Eagle and constituency MP Anna Turley [Image: Ian Forsyth for the Mirror].

Mr McDonnell in Redcar with shadow business secretary Angela Eagle and constituency MP Anna Turley [Image: Ian Forsyth for the Mirror].

The shock and anger professed by some Labour MPs at shadow chancellor John McDonnell’s decision to oppose George Osborne’s Charter for Budget Responsibility – in line with Labour’s anti-austerity policy direction – defies belief.

Mr McDonnell has claimed his decision was triggered by a meeting with steel workers in Redcar, where the factory is to be closed down after the Conservative Government wouldn’t lift a finger to save it.

He said: “Originally what I said to people was, ‘This charter is a political stunt; it is a political trap by George Osborne; it is virtually meaningless; he ignores it himself time and time again.

“‘He never meets his targets, so this is just a stunt. Let’s ridicule it in the debate and vote for it because it’s a meaningless vote’.”

But then he went to Redcar. “I met the steelworkers and I had families in tears about what’s happened to them as a result of the Government failing to act, failing to intervene.

“I came back and I realised, as the consequence of the Government’s failure to invest in infrastructure, in skills, the cuts that are going to start coming now, I realised that people actually are going to suffer badly.

“It brought it home to me and I don’t want the Labour Party associated with this policy.”

This Blog has already reported that the change of heart was also prompted by the worldwide economic outlook. The Charter commits the government to balancing the books within three years, provided there is not another global crisis. Mr McDonnell announced in a letter to fellow Labour MPs: “In the last fortnight there have been a series of reports highlighting the economic challenges facing the global economy as a result of the slowdown in emerging markets.

“These have included warnings from the International Monetary Fund’s latest financial stability report, the Bank of England chief economist, Andy Haldane, and the former Director of President Obama’s National Economic Council, Lawrence Summers.”

According to the BBC, former shadow chancellor Chris Leslie criticised the U-turn and said Labour should set out its own motion: “To go from one extreme to the other is wrong in economic terms but also it sends the wrong message to the general public as well.

“I think to be fair to John McDonnell this is a very difficult balancing act, it’s a very difficult topic, but it’s incredibly important that he is clear and consistent and explains fully not just what Labour’s position is but also why he backed George Osborne’s surplus a couple of weeks ago and is now against it apparently.”

But Mr McDonnell had already explained his reasoning in the letter to the Parliamentary Labour Party and, according to Paul Mason of Channel 4 News, he had indeed planned to move its own alternative to the charter, and to table amendments – but “both these possibilities have been ruled out by the clerks of the Commons.”

The Guardian reported the responses of Labour MPs John Mann and Mike Gapes: “In a comment piece written for the website Politics Home, Mann said “There has been no debate, nor any consultation within the Labour Party.”

But the new developments Mr McDonnell cites all happened within a very tight period. When was there time for a consultation or debate, prior to last night’s meeting?

Mann continues: “The reality is that to have voted with Osborne would have led to political meltdown in Scotland… New Corbyn supporters would have been bemused and demoralised. It would have been a political disaster with huge consequences.”

On one aspect of this, it seems likely he is correct. SNP supporters, ignoring the vacillation of their own party’s leader on this subject (she opposed it – and Labour – during the election campaign, then supported it after the Tories won. Now it seems she and her party are opposing it again) have leapt to the attack in any case, claiming – improbably – that it is Labour that has wavered, in denial of the fact that a new leadership has brought new policies with it.

New Corbyn supporters are anti-austerity, though. They will be delighted by Mr McDonnell’s decision.

The Graun continued: “Mike Gapes, Labour MP for Ilford South since 1992, took to Twitter on Tuesday morning to condemn his party’s state. ‘There is now no collective Shadow cabinet responsibility in our Party, no clarity on economic policy and no credible leadership,’ he wrote. Challenged by another user of the social media site to show loyalty to Corbyn, Gapes responded: ‘I will show loyalty in the same way as he was loyal to Kinnock, Smith, Blair, Brown, Beckett, Miliband and Harman. Ok?'”

No. How about showing loyalty to the majority of the party who support Messrs Corbyn and McDonnell and the policies they are promoting?

All in all, it seems the Labour leadership won’t be able to do right by these ‘rebels’ (if they can be called that) no matter what they choose to do. McDonnell was criticised on the pretext that supporting the CBR was against his anti-austerity beliefs (and never mind the fact that he explained his reasons for it) and now he’s being criticised for opposing it, in line with his anti-austerity beliefs.

Do these people – Messrs Leslie, Mann and Gapes – realise that they aren’t making sense?

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Chances of Labour-SNP alliance are dwindling due to nationalists’ own strategy

SNPlogo

Now even shadow cabinet members are speaking openly against any alliance with the SNP, post-election.

Vox Political has previously reported on Labour backbenchers’ concerns that any link with the Scottish nationalists would make a future Labour government vulnerable to a partner who would walk out when it best suited them – and least suited Labour.

Now it seems this concern has spread to shadow minister. Andrew Rawnsley has reported in The Guardian: “A growing number within the shadow cabinet … are urging a much more emphatically anti-SNP message.

“One of them says that Labour now needs to say ‘loud and clear’ that it would not treat with the nationalists as ‘a party that wants to tear the United Kingdom apart’.

“Another agrees: ‘We’re going to have to say no deal with the SNP.’

“It is also necessary, they argue, to disabuse Scottish voters of the notion that voting SNP will give them a perfect world in which David Cameron is thrown out of Number 10 and Scots hold sway at Westminster.

“Senior Labour figures also contend that striking any sort of bargain with the SNP would be such a strategic mistake that they should never countenance doing one anyway.

“Says a member of the shadow cabinet: ‘If we do a deal with the nationalists, my fear is that it will not just be the end of the Labour party in Scotland, it will be the end of the Labour party in England.’”

This is bad news indeed for supporters of the nationalist party, who were banking on being able to tell Scottish voters that Labour was a spent force in their country – and then convince them that voting SNP would give them a strong voice in an alliance with the same party in Westminster. It isn’t logical, but that’s what they’ve been saying.

And the nationalists are now finding themselves in bed with the Conservative Party, in their attacks on Labour.

North of the border, the SNP tells voters Labour is too similar to the Tories (this is, of course, a lie).

South of the border, the Tories are telling voters Labour is too willing to ally with the nationalists.

The two claims are mutually exclusive. A party that was similar to the Tories would never ally with the SNP, and the SNP would never ally with a party that was similar to the Tories.

But that doesn’t matter because they are being made to different sets of voters. It’s only when these fictions are presented side-by-side that they look as ridiculous as they really are.

Either way, the result will be the same, if voters are persuaded by these false arguments. As Rawnsley writes: “The Tories and SNP suggest that a vote for the nationalists will be a vote for a Labour government. The reverse is much more likely to be the case.

“What a mighty irony it would be if voting SNP were to put David Cameron back in Downing Street.

That outcome might secretly delight the leadership of the SNP.

It is rather more doubtful that it would please many of the Scots currently saying they plan to vote nationalist.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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