SNP are playing the game

The SNP has found itself in an awkward situation where they want Labour to do well on one side of the border but not the other. Ideally for Sturgeon and Salmond, Scottish Labour would collapse as English Labour surges to win enough seats to offer the SNP a deal. Effectively, the party strategy is to cut off Labour’s head and then shake its hand. That’s why Nicola Sturgeon recently gave us some odd voting advice.

Last week, Sturgeon urged English voters to vote Green because she wants to see more “progressive voices” in the Commons. However, the reason may also be that she doesn’t want to create a link between voting Labour and a possible Labour-SNP deal that includes another Scottish Referendum within the next decade.

Given her main reason for entering politics was her hatred for the Conservatives, it seems strange that she wasn’t advocating support for Labour, the only party who can expel Cameron from Downing Street. A strong Labour turn-out is also the most likely to give SNP the balance of power, and then stand the best chance of securing more Scottish funding, another referendum, and scrapping Trident.

This weekend, the mask did slip slightly as Alex Salmond stated the obvious, “if you hold the balance, then you hold the power”. If the SNP want power, they need more people to vote Labour, they just don’t want to say it.

Parties take risks on donations

The furore that broke over weekend over the most recent donations scandal shed light on a part of political life that usually stays behind the scenes. Donations are the lifeblood of political parties, and if you show willingness to help a party then it usually have to drop its guard to maximise the potential donation.

The weekend story of the Liberal Democrats allegedly accepting a donation from one person, knowing that it was from another, won’t be discussed at dinner tables across the UK tonight. The media will push the scandal of “cash for access” but the fall-out will be minimal as, for the public, the story is too peripheral and opaque to make a lasting impression and, for those who follow such things, it won’t come as a surprise that Vince Cable voiced tacit support for a Financial Transaction Tax.

Sadly, the impact of tonight’s Dispatches will probably be to further darken politics’ reputation. But perhaps the real question is why political parties appear to take such risks for the sake of a few thousand pounds.

Helpful Debates?

Finally, we know that we will have one seven leader debate, one debate with the five opposition party leaders, and a slightly unusual session with Cameron and Miliband being questioned separately (think back-to-back Marr episodes).

Having attempted to analyse the Republican Candidate debates in the run-up to the US elections in 2012, Cicero Elections remains unconvinced of the benefits of group debates in helping voters choose a party. We are interested to see how the British public, already sceptical of our politicians, will react as the carnage of a seven way debate unfolds on their TV screens. We wish ITV host Julie Etchingham the very best of luck.