Tom Watson: “Progressive alliance is an electoral dead end”

Nathanael Williams

Deputy UK Labour party leader pledges to Scottish Labour to never have an alliance with the SNP, Liberal Democrats or Greens

“AN ELECTORAL DEADEND” is how the deputy leader of the Labour party, Tom Watson, described any attempt to forge a progressive alliance with parties such as the SNP, Greens or Liberal Democrats.

His comments were part of a speech made at the Scottish Labour party conference today (Saturday 25 February) where he praised Kezia Dugdale and labelled the SNP as “bearers of austerity.”

They follow a difficult week for the UK Labour party which saw it defeat Ukip in Stoke but lose an old stronghold to the Tories in the constituency of Copeland. 

The Scottish Labour party itself faces electoral disaster in the upcoming local elections in May with recent polls showing them at 15 per cent.

“And here in Scotland you know better than anyone that nationalism isn’t a progressive force.” Tom Watson

Watson in his speech said: “I get frustrated on your behalf when some people – mostly, it must be said, in England – argue that the solution to our current difficulties lies in a “progressive alliance”. I can see how, on the surface, it’s tempting. How it feels like a shortcut to power.

“Because, the parties that supporters of the progressive alliance would hook us up with – are actually no such thing. And here in Scotland, you know better than anyone that nationalism isn’t a progressive force. The SNP are a party that willingly continues to impose austerity on local councils in Scotland.

“So trust me, I know what I’m saying, when I say the idea of a progressive alliance is an electoral dead end. The last general election should have made that absolutely obvious to us all.

He went on to describe the 2015 UK-wide general election which saw Ed Miliband’s Labour party lose after being accused of being in “nationalist’s pockets”. The UK Tories led an electoral campaign filled with images showing Labour as a party controlled by a foreign and dangerous influence.

These took the form of Ed Milliband on posters and leaflets placed inside the pockets of former First Minister Alex Salmond and current First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

“Remember those awful posters, Ed Miliband in Alex Salmond’s pocket?” Tom Waston

“Remember those awful posters, Ed Miliband in Alex Salmond’s pocket?

“They were brutal, they were unfair, but they were effective. The Tories demonised the idea of a progressive alliance, of Labour propped up by the SNP – and used it as an electoral stick to beat us with.”

The deputy leader also used his speech to praise the leadership of Kezia Dugdale and urged the party to have patience over the performance of Jeremy Corbyn. “Now is not the time for a leadership contest”, he added.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the UK Labour party is set to speak to the conference on the Sunday 26 February.

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