A separatist activist who played a key role in organising the ‘Yes’ campaign in last year’s referendum has quit the SNP for Labour after being disgusted to find many Nationalists quietly backing the Tories.
The Daily Record reports that Mohammed Shoaib, the leader of Asians for Independence and a former SNP branch convenor, believes that the referendum was “last year’s vote” and that the focus in May should be evicting the Conservatives and securing a progressive government wherever possible.
However, he alleges that many SNP members, including those in Nicola Sturgeon’s own constituency of Glasgow Southside, are secretly hoping for a second Cameron administration in order to improve the prospects of another referendum.
Shoaib accused many nationalists of putting “the interests of the SNP before the interests of Scotland”.
This lends fresh credence to the suggestion, outlined in a leaked diplomatic memo, that the First Minister confessed her reservations about Ed Miliband and preference for David Cameron to a French ambassador.
It is certainly unhelpful to the Nationalist leader, especially on the morning she was preparing for an STV debate between the Scottish party leaders.
What the DUP would have said in the leaders’ debate
The sharp distinction between mainland politics and those of Northern Ireland is a real and unfortunate one.
As I have argued on this site before, parties like the DUP wound the Union in Ulster on two fronts: by alienating persuadable Catholics at home, and by operating as marginally relevant mercenaries in Westminster.
Only yesterday, the Financial Times gave a flavour of how badly the leaders of political unionism have served their supporters since the restoration of devolution in the late 1990s.
As disenchantment leads to dwindling turnout, both the Democratic Unionists and the fading Ulster Unionists double-down on the politics of the headcount with counterproductive pacts that prioritise short-term representation over long term renewal.
However, with all that said it remains the case that DUP MPs will be able, if they so choose, to support or help to destroy any government that tries to form after the next election.
Indeed with eight or nine MPs they will, barring real shocks on election night, be markedly larger than Plaid Cymru, the Greens, or even UKIP.
Their exclusion from a sprawling debate which included the leaders of minor parties on the basis of their potential role in a hung parliament thus remains mystifying.
However Peter Robinson, party leader and First Minister of Northern Ireland, has set out the DUP position in a hung parliament for the Belfast Telegraph.
Stressing that his MPs would not attempt to be “the tail that wags the dog”, Robinson set out a pitch which centres, in good pork barrel fashion, on getting more money for Northern Ireland. (Nigel Dodds, their Parliamentary leader, classified the party’s demands as “a shopping list of desirable goodies” amongst other things.)
The Democratic Unionists are prepared to support either Labour or the Conservatives, and claim that there is currently only £10m difference between the two parties’ proposals for Northern Ireland.
However the DUP takes a strong line on defence spending. This might make it a more comfortable component of a Tory-led parliamentary arrangement than one cobbled together by Labour with the very dovish nationalists and Greens.
Wood claims Plaid would work “for good of whole UK”
The chances of the two green-tinted parties, Plaid and the Greens, having a surprise breakout on election night won’t have been helped by the capable performances their leaders put in during the debate.
Leanne Wood, the hard-left leader of the Welsh nationalists, is now attempting to leverage the boost to her profile from last Thursday’s event to establish the legitimacy of nationalist participation in, or support of, a pan-UK government.
Wales Online reports that she is claiming that Plaid would use their influence for the good of “the whole UK”. This reflects the fact that Nicola Sturgeon has been winning over anti-austerity English voters who dislike either Ed Miliband, or the compromises Labour have to make to win.
However Labour are quick to stress that, at least based on current polling, nobody is predicting Plaid to exceed their current contingent of three MPs next month.
Teacher accused of forcing pro-SNP bias on children
A primary school teacher in Glasgow has been accused of attempting to indoctrinate her pupils after spoon-feeding them hostile questions for Labour politicians and taking them on marches, according to the Daily Herald.
Concerns were raised on Twitter after media reports showed some of the children, aged ten, at a political march bearing ‘end austerity’ banners, and complaints have been made to the council.
Karen Lorimer, the teacher in question, is also accused of having fed her charges prepared questions before visits from politicians from Labour and the SNP, as well as Tommy Sheridan, the scandal-ridden former leader of the Scottish Socialist Party.
Ms Lorimer claims to have invited speakers after she could not fully answer her pupils’ questions about why there were food banks – but neither of the Government parties were invited to send representatives.