Andy McSmith's Election Diary: The truth about a Tory-SNP pact


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A document has been unearthed that proves that the SNP secretly approached the Tories to do a deal after the general election. No matter what Nicola Sturgeon may say, they were anticipating if not hoping for a Conservative victory. The price they demanded for co-operation was a free vote on devolution.

But this was a while ago. On 18 November 1976, to be precise. The approach was made by the late Hamish Watt, the SNP Whip in the Commons, and the father of Maureen Watt, Scotland’s minister for public health.

He talked to a Tory whip, Bernard Weatherill, a future Speaker, who reported to Margaret Thatcher that “I gained the impression that since the SNP were likely to be the dominant force in Scotland after the general election and since we were likely to be the next government, he was anxious to come to some sort of working arrangement with us.”

Weatherill’s note is in the archives of the Margaret Thatcher Foundation at Churchill College, Cambridge. There is no record of any response from Thatcher.

Exonerated after mistaken identity

In Tory-held Stourbridge, in the West Midlands, the Labour candidate Pete Lowe was accused of misleading voters with his “Born, bred and believes” campaign, after the Ukip candidate, James Carver MEP, uncovered his birth certificate, which shows that he was born in Wolverhampton.

Lowe says he has always lived in Stourbridge, but in 1968, when  his mother was expecting twins, there was a complication and she was rushed to Wolverhampton hospital. One twin died; Pete Lowe was the other. Mr Carver has apologised, by phone and on Twitter.

Thatcher’s insult legitimised

Speaking at an event in Leyton and Wanstead for Labour’s John Cryer, Rodney Bickerstaffe, who created the Unison trade union from a merger of smaller unions, mentioned that he was conceived in 1944 in Whipps Cross Hospital in the constituency, where his mother was a nurse.

His parents were not married and his father took off before the baby arrived, a month before the war ended. That was considered scandalous in those days.

It meant, Bickerstaffe said, that when Margaret Thatcher or Tony Blair called him a bastard, they were right.

Sibling of the day

“As the oldest of three siblings I would be very upset if one of my younger siblings started trying to compete on my turf.”

David Cameron’s biographer, Isabel Oakeshott, gives Sky News her very personal reason for thinking Ed Miliband should not have run for the Labour leadership.

Quote of the Day

“We should stick pompous Michael Fallon on the end of a nuclear missile and fire it off into space. The world would be a happier place.”

Michael Fallon got personal with Ed Miliband, so Ken Livingstone got personal with him.

A lesson on the limits of the Union

Leaders of six parties in Scotland held their debate in Aberdeen University against a backdrop that included a set of five fascinating works of art known as the Black Paintings. Painted by an unknown hand about 360 years ago, they used Old Testament images to warn Charles II to stay faithful to the National Covenant of 1637, which laid down the terms on which Scottish Presbyterians were prepared to accept union with England.

Despite their obvious relevance, nobody so much as mentioned them.

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