It is great fun to watch various unionists in turmoil about the prospects of Scottish votes, through SNP MPs, playing a key role in who forms the next UK government and how they govern. The Deputy Chair of the Conservatives apparently thinks it will be undemocratic for Scottish votes to be counted. Miliband seems to have conceded that Scotland is lost to Labour, but proclaims that he will ignore the result.
There is a degree of schadenfreude for those of us who supported the Yes campaign, even if we have to keep reminding ourselves that opinion polls do not yet deliver seats. I suspect that the Tories will edge further ahead in England in the next 6 weeks and that Labour may claw back a few percent in Scotland. The BBC has not even started campaigning yet.
But lets for a moment indulge the idea that the SNP will win 40 or so seats. Who will be Secretary of State for Scotland? If the Tories form a minority government can it possibly be Mundell? What if he loses too? Will they abolish the post? Or give it to a Lord? What credibility would a minority Tory government have on any issues related to Scotland. What happens to the incoherent proposals from the Smith Commission? It may well be First Minister Sturgeon that Cameron has to negotiate with rather than any SNP group leader in Westminster.
And what if Miliband somehow finds the votes in Westminster to install a minority Labour government. Who will be Secretary of State for Scotland? Can it possibly be Murphy? What if he loses too? Will they abolish the post? Or give it to a Lord? What credibility would a minority Labour government have on any issues related to Scotland if they had just been comprehensively defeated here? As above the crucial negotiations may turn out to be with the Scottish government rather than the SNP Westminster group.
The key question is not how SNP MPs will vote in Westminster, but how will Westminster attempt to govern Scotland after a unionist rout. It is likely that we can consign the Smith Commission to the dustbin of history and William Hague’s proposals for EVEL will not work without a Tory overall majority to implement them. Serious constitutional change will be back on the agenda and we may yet get the DevoMax that most of us would have voted for in 2014 given the chance. And if not, what price a velvet divorce?
The SNP are quite comfortable with all the talk of coalition and deals. Their greatest fear is that the election narrative turns into Miliband v Cameron and they get squeezed out of the TV coverage. But I would be prepared to wager they are working through options which are far removed from the current media chatter. And I doubt team Miliband or team Cameron have begun to think beyond how they cobble together a deal to secure the keys to Downing Street. Interesting times ahead.