This is our truth, tell us yours
In last night’s staged, and stagey opposition leaders debate, best characterized as a collection of non-entities trying to find a point of difference between themselves and Ed Miliband, Nicola Sturgeon’s bluster, shouting, and haranguing of Ed could all have been punctured by a simple question. On the morning of the first Labour budget, after all the noise and fury has shut down, will she support Labour, or will she vote its budget down and pitch the country into confusion and chaos?
Nye Bevan, famously, and infamously, said at Brighton in 1957 that those who were unilaterally opposed to nuclear weapons were not statesmen, but suffering from an emotional spasm. Implicit in Sturgeon’s posturing last night was something of the same emotional spasm, a desire to obtain through the manouverings of coalition a policy position (opposition to Trident) which had not succeeded at the ballot box.
I’m reminded, not of Bevan at this moment, but of Neil Kinnock, a lesser leader, for sure than Bevan, who told Labour conference, famously, in 1986
“I tell you – and you’ll listen – you can’t play politics with people’s jobs and people’s homes and people’s services.”
In order to try to gain through coalition a policy position that has failed at the ballot box, whether it be Trident, or another bloody referendum, Nicola Sturgeon is implicitly threatening to bring down a Labour government. How easy will it be for Miliband to accuse her of playing politics with people’s jobs and people’s homes and people’s services? Very easy.
Miliband’s obdurate refusal to play ball with her is based on calculation, that Sturgeon will bottle such a decision, for fear that her party would be destroyed in the backlash that would surely follow if the Tories ended up in power because of her emotional spasm.
(Note to commenters – I personally am opposed to the renewal of Trident on both moral and practical grounds – not least because, like Orwell, I believe that every generation of general spend all their time preparing for the last war, not the next one. However, I also believe that if I’ve lost an argument it’s dishonest to seek to obtain, through manouvres, that which could not be obtained by popular consent.)