In a world where politicians use Twitter as a space to fire off new campaign ideas, it was perhaps no shock that Nicola Sturgeon recently chose to use the platform to make a seemingly out-of-the-blue proposition to the Labour Party. On Monday the 10th of December, the leader of the Scottish National Party, Nicola Sturgeon, sent a direct tweet to the leader of the Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn. She proposed that they join forces to topple the Conservative Government and stop Brexit.
We can break Sturgeon’s tweet down into two main ideas. Firstly, her complete lack of faith in the current deal that the Prime Minister is proposing is abundantly clear. Sturgeon refers to the current state of affairs as a ‘shambles’, stating that it cannot be allowed to continue. Secondly, she suggests that with Jeremy Corbyn and Labour’s help, Brexit can be scrapped through another referendum. This proposition then raises the question that if a general election were to be called in the next few weeks, as many are predicting, is a Labour/SNP coalition a realistic possibility?
Politically, it is questionable as to just how well Labour and the Scottish National Party align with one another. In terms of a second referendum on Brexit, both the Scottish National Party and Labour seem willing to leave that as an option on the table. However, in wider politics there are stark differences between the two parties’ policies.
Scottish Independence is most definitely the biggest difference of opinion! Sturgeon has made no secret of her inherent desire for Scotland to claim its independence. But an alignment with Labour would surely mean kissing goodbye to this career-long goal. In their 2017 manifesto, the SNP have stated that a second independence referendum would be put forward after the Brexit deal had been agreed. However, Labour have campaigned vehemently for a United Kingdom. Therefore, in order to join Labour, this policy would no doubt need to be compromised. Realistically, this is something Sturgeon may be unwilling to lose without gaining something in return. It is thus the idea of Scottish Independence that might make an SNP and Labour alliance impossible in its practicalities.
There is also historic bad blood between Sturgeon and Corbyn. This can be traced right back to when Corbyn took over the role as leader of the opposition. The tension between the two dates back specifically to 2015, when Sturgeon called Corbyn not ‘credible’ to be prime minister. However, this opinion drastically changed in 2017 when the prospect of a hung parliament loomed over British politics. This prompted Sturgeon to say that she would support Labour and form a government with them, if that is the way that the election was headed. This current suggestion of a Labour/SNP alliance then, is not a spur-of-the-moment suggestion as the tweet format would imply. Rather, it is an idea that Sturgeon has been formulating for over a year.
Despite their main differences however, there are some key policies which Labour and the SNP both firmly agree on. The 2017 manifestos of both parties included a key policy relating to tax. Both parties aimed to increase the rate of income tax on the highest earners in the United Kingdom (those earning more than £150,000) from 45p, which it was at the time of election, to 50p. This proposal to increase tax for the wealthier in society, in order to subsidise the struggling sectors such as healthcare and education, has remained key to both parties.
Echoing each other also with regard to childcare, both parties’ 2017 manifestos outlined a policy to extend free childcare to 30 hours per week for 2-year-olds. This answers a desperate call for cheaper childcare from new parents who struggle to navigate a society in which they must go back to work in order to provide for their families, but also cannot afford the increasing prices of childcare.
The need for an alternative plan for Brexit, along with several shared policy ideas, could build enough common ground for Labour and the SNP to seriously consider negotiating an alliance. This alliance could not only topple Theresa May’s chances at getting her deal through Parliament, it could also be enough to overthrow the entire Conservative Government at a general election.