Alex Salmond was doing the rounds this weekend, talking about the inevitability of a Labour minority propped up by the SNP as the government post-May 7th, and hinting around what that would entail. That’s his wont, and I wouldn’t expect him to be doing anything else at this stage of the election cycle, the zombie leader of the Nats talking up his side’s chances. But I do hate the way he throws around the word “progressive”, particularly when nationalism so often stands in the way of progressive politics, even as defined by Salmond himself.
Take the way those who are broadly supportive of the SNP in Scotland but are not SNP politicians themselves (politicians watch what they say very carefully) talk about Britain. The academics, the journalists, the hangers-on. One thing you often hear about from these types is about how Britain is becoming like America, in that it has two very desirable parts of the country with a bunch of “fly-over” bits in the middle. In their analogy, Scotland is like one coast, London the other, with the rest of the country a sort of avoid it if you can hell pit.
That’s the way the Scottish nationalists see Britain: most of England outside of London is poor and knackered, and they don’t really give a toss. Given they’re nationalists and only care about their fellow Scots, the English poor may be someone’s problem – but they sure aren’t theirs.
By extension, any arrangement involving the SNP and Labour at Westminster would almost certainly hurt the English poor foremost. All of Salmond’s demands would obviously be concessions to Scotland at the expense of England; Labour would struggle, while trying to balance the budget, to really help the English regions in any meaningful way with Salmond standing in the way. Now, you could say that the Tories don’t care much about the English poor either. But then all you’re saying there is that the socio-economically deprived amongst the English should cosy up to UKIP even more as having a Tory government versus a Labour-SNP deal will effectively make no difference: they get screwed either way.
Salmond and the SNP can do what they like, it’s a free country. I just wish the Left would stop doting on them as progressive heroes in waiting. Take Natalie Bennett, talking about wanting a “progressive alliance” with the SNP. Just as UKIP don’t care about the poor of southern Europe, the SNP don’t care about the English poor. Nationalism stands in the way of any such feeling. All of things the Left supposedly wants to achieve in this country, the Nats want to tear down. Including, come to think of it, the very concept of that country itself.