Motion of confidence trick

Expecting to lose (or rather, not win) the election, Cameron is setting all his chips on pre-emptively delegitimising a Labour government. The headline on the front page of the Times (dispensing with the pose of objectivity) is

Miliband trying to con way into No. 10, says PM.

(It’s an objective fact, because it’s a quote.) The former cabinet secretary who oversaw the 2010 coalition negotiations has dismissed this suggestion:

We live in a parliamentary democracy. The rules are very clear and they are laid out in the Cabinet Manual, and it says the ability of government to command the confidence of the elected House of Commons is central to its authority to govern.

But I found most interesting Cameron’s response, explaining why any government that depends on support from the barbarians in the north would be presumptively illegitimate:

Why is that a problem, why does that raise huge questions of credibility? Well for the obvious reason that the SNP don’t want Britain to be a success, indeed they don’t want Britain to exist. [SNP voters] have every right to vote, of course they do. But I’ve also got every right to warn of the dangers of a government propped up by a bunch of nationalists who don’t want our country to succeed.

I find this startlingly apocalyptic. “Britain” used to include all of Ireland, but didn’t cease to exist when part of that island gained independence. The fact that the SNP is expected to gain a broad majority across one of the constituent nations of the UK suggests that “they don’t want our country to succeed” is too facile. After all, it’s their country too, isn’t it?


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