Naftali bennet Square

Can Israeli politics offer hope for ridding us of the SNP?

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SOMETHING FASCINATING is happening in Israel. The Holy Land is seeing what must be the most unholiest of alliances being made in the Knesset. Right wingers like Naftali Bennett (now there is a unionist and a nationalist combined) are working with centrists, leftists and Arab parties to form a unity government.

A break out of peace and harmony perhaps? Of course not, this is Israeli politics and it makes our own look a wee bit timorous by comparison. This multicultural taskforce has been assembled for one job. To get rid of Benyamin Netanyahu. There are few figures as polarising in modern democracies and make no mistake his survival to date dwarfs anything managed by Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon. He is Goliath and Goliath is Likud.

The centre right party dominates Israeli politics and has done for decades. Eventually people of the same trade in different faiths realise they have to put their faith in a trade, a bargain, a coalition of the desperate. They’ve done just that.

Despite Likud’s dominance, it is often forgotten it has almost always been because of wheeler-dealing by Likud with minor parties, usually those far more ideological than Likud. People have many opinions on Israel and I am going to offer mine: Israel is not and has never been a one party state.

Nor for that matter has Scotland, yet so many of the London media say so increasingly. If cancer came with a side order of septic toothache we’d be halfway towards the groan I’m making just thinking of them. There’s a coffee table somewhere in a London café where a choir of Les MacMiserables scribble their drivel on what they think of Scotland, it’s all so defeatist.

Let me repeat: Scotland is not and has never been a one party state.

Once that is established we can think afresh. Here are a few starters,

The SNP does not have a majority.

The Green vote is not 100% pro-independence (polling suggests it is very split).

The Scottish Tories are not remotely conservative.

Scottish Labour is barely conscious.

The Scottish Lib Dems are barely alive.

They all are pro-remain, they all are politically correct (and out of touch) and none of them seem to have much to do with their London headquarters so we have to ask the obvious.

Why has there been no coalition talks? It is not as preposterous as it sounds. Sinn Fein and the DUP manage it. Israeli settlers and Arabs are making a fist of it. If these parties really want to oppose and not simply repose they need to face a simple fact.

The SNP are going to be in government until they are. So either you think the SNP government is great and you are coasting along (I’m trying) or you think you can do a better job with a working majority.

Over in Ireland Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, descendants of opposing sides of a civil war, have worked out a fudge that sees them share the head of government, first FF and then FG will be in overall control. A muddy, grubby, fudge that works.

A Windows coalition could see each party nominally being the First Minister for one year. That coalition could open the books, release information held back by the SNP and start to focus on delivering on devolved government. So who would gain what?

The Greens would be partners instead of supplicants and could focus, if they wanted to, on green issues. There are many.

Labour and the Lib Dems would have a genuine centre-left government that could restore funding to local government and away from wasteful projects.

The Tories would be able to finally shut up about indyref (though they should anyway) because a Windows government wouldn’t be having a referendum on anything.

Could London pony-up some cash to invest in some green infrastructure upfront? Refinance PFI UK-wide to bring NHS costs down? Yes. Would that be worth it to stabilise the UK. I’d say so. We are not talking Covid level funding here. Far from it.

Is any of this likely? No. It doesn’t matter. Politics is the art of the possible. If the Greens and others even hinted this were a possibility I imagine the SNP and its dear leader would not be quite so acerbic, negligent and spend thrift. The idea of the nation’s books and beneficiaries being pored over by experts would terrify the life out of The House of Murrell.

This is basic stuff but it’s crude poker at worst. Leaving the EU was not likely, nor was saving the pound, but look what happened. Could it be Scotland’s opposition is just too cosy to even try? If Netanyahu can be overthrown Nicola certainly can.

Drop the defeatist claptrap. The SNP is in power because no one else wants to be.

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Photo: Naftali Bennet with other senior representatives of Israel’s major political parties addressing journalists and diplomats at The Israel Project’s pre-election foreign-policy debate. (Mati Milstein/The Israel Project) 

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