In the aftermath of the referendum campaign the real views of English Unionists pretty quickly began to emerge. David Cameron could hardly wait for the result to indulge in a bit of Scots bashing with his barely thought through wish for English votes for English laws, the aptly called EVEL. More of a proposal to turn MPs from Scotland into second class citizens than anything else. That little bit of indulgence is nothing compared to the barrage of anti Scottish hysteria which seems to have gripped almost everyone in the English media. See here for a glimpse into this mindset, curtesy of Wings over Scotland. The lovebombing from before the referendum has disappeared completely, to be replaced by rather nasty hate bombs.
It is truly remarkable that for a mixture of short term gain and a tribal hatred of the SNP most Unionists are pursuing an approach which can only damage what they profess to hold most dear. What is really surprising is that these Unionists seem to be blissfully unaware of the potential damage they are doing to their beloved UK. Only a few distressed Unionist such as Alex Massie have remained clear headed enough to see the big picture.
This is one in which most Unionist have either crossed, or have come close to crossing the line between opposing the influence of the SNP and rejecting the right of any MP from Scotland to influence the government of the UK. This is particularly dangerous territory for Labour. It is perfectly understandable, if utterly stupid from a pro UK perspective, for the Tories to reject outright any involvement of the SNP in a UK government. They and everyone else knows that the SNP will not have anything to do with supporting a Tory government. So it is a pretty cheap stunt on the part of the Tories to call for Labour to also reject outright any deal with the SNP. The Tories have nothing but David Mundell to lose in Scotland, and his loss is most unlikely to have any effect on the prospects of the Tories remaining in government.
There is though far more at stake for Labour. Even if the party does as badly as some of the predictions, it will remain a major party in Scotland and will hope prosper once again, not just at Holyrood but also at Westminster. Here is the rub though. If Labour were to reject now any kind of deal with the SNP after May, they run the risk that at future UK elections, English Unionists will question why Scottish Labour MPs should get any say in a UK government. If SNP MPs can be excluded, why not all Scottish MPs?
The recent intervention by Alan Johnston was also misjudged. He wants to rule out a deal with the SNP, not apparently because they are Scottish, but on the grounds that they would want the removal of Trident as part of any deal. However many Scottish Labour MPs also support the removal of Trident. Are they too to be cast out from any deal? What about any English or Welsh Labour MP who also supports the removal of Trident? Are they to be excluded from the formation of a Labour government? This is pretty much inconceivable. Which just exposes that Alan Johnston’s real objection is to MPs from Scotland having any kind of influence on a future UK government. His comments are doubly dangerous for Labour. They confirm that Labour is a pro Trident party, a position that is at odds with most of the potential voters that Labour has to win back. By opposing any role for the SNP in a UK government he is effectively ruling out for the future, any role in a UK government for any MP from Scotland.
Whatever the result of the election in May, the long term effects of this hate bombing of Scotland can only persuade even more Scots that next time, and there will be a next time, the only vote is Yes.