Why is Corbyn so determined to rule out any kind of deal with the SNP to keep the Tories out of power after the next UK election? What audience is he playing to with this posturing? What does he think he can gain from this that is worth the inherently risky strategy of closing off options?
According to reports, he is planning on saying to voters in Scotland that British Labour’s official policy is that, given a choice between cooperating with the SNP and allowing the Tories to form another government, they would choose the latter. The message is that they would prefer to see the Tories in power than to do a deal with another party which is prepared to compromise in order to get the Tories out. On the face of it, this doesn’t seem to make any sense at all.
It might make sense if the SNP was some kind of extremist party. But at the same time as they reject any kind of deal with them British Labour complains that the SNP is not nearly radical enough. British Labour is explicitly rejecting any possibility of cooperation with a party that is not markedly different from what British Labour itself would like to be perceived as being – centre-left; socially progressive; economically prudent; administratively competent; electorally popular. So why treat the SNP as some kind of political pariah?
There is one thing that makes the SNP untouchable as far as any British party is concerned and that is the fact that the SNP represents a threat to the British political establishment. British Labour is part of that establishment. Its relationship with the British Conservative Party is one of mutual dependence. They are bound together by a shared interest in preserving a political system that both are part of and utterly reliant on. They are not two sides of the same coin. They are not that far apart. When the structures of power, privilege and patronage which define the British state are under threat, British Labour and British Tories become as one.
The imperative is to ensure the continuity of the British state. The priority is to maintain the cosy arrangement whereby effective power is kept in the hands of those who can be relied on to serve the same dominant elite. The entire British political establishment has converged on the same narrow set of interests and the same relatively tiny subset of voters who decide Westminster elections. At the point of convergence, distinctions between and among British political parties become meaningless.
Asking questions about Corbyn’s motives in ruling out a deal with the SNP is pointless. This is more instinct than strategy.