Former British Ambassador (and previous Liberal/Lib Dem member) Craig Murray has been knocked back by the SNP in his attempt to stand for them because, according to his account, he wasn’t willing to say ‘yes’ in reply to a question about whether in a hung Parliament he’d be willing to vote for the Bedroom Tax if that was part of a deal to secure other SNP policies. He was rejected for “lack of commitment to group discipline”.
Over on Lib Dem Voice, Caron Lindsay has written about the light this throws on the SNP’s adjustment to its huge growth in membership. It also highlights the essential nature of hung Parliaments: the way to maximise getting your own policies through is to agree to vote for some policies that you don’t like in return. Sticking to a line of only voting for that which you agree with 100% results in getting less of your policies enacted.
There’s nothing mystical, magical or even particularly political about that. Getting more of what you do want by agreeing to some of what you don’t want is a basic aspect of life, both at work and outside work.
It is however a basic aspect of life that the Liberal Democrats have frequently struggled to communicate during this Parliament, and one which many of the party’s critics, both internally and externally, have often acted as if it doesn’t exist and that there is no downside at all in a hung Parliament in only voting for things you completely agree with. That’s wrong; doing that comes with a big cost in missed opportunities.
With the SNP becoming more explicit that such trade-offs are a matter for all parties, it may be that after May 2015 political debate is rather more based on the sensible acknowledgement of the existence of such trade-offs. Maybe.