The Scots have voted; now the manoeuvring for coalition partners begins.
Recap: the SNP leads with 47 seats, followed by Labour with 46, the Tories with 17, the Lib Dems with 13, the Greens with 2 and one other.
Alex Salmond argues that for a coalition to have “moral authority”, it would have to respect “the wishes of the electorate and the verdict of the people”. The principle he appears to be working from is: the larger the party’s representation, the more legitimate its place in government. Which sort of sounds reasonable.
(Unless, of course, he’s just saying such things to try to dissuade the Lib Dems from getting together with Labour again. But never mind that.)
This principle, however, logically has implications not just for who should be the senior coalition partner. There’s talk of either Labour or the SNP joining up with the Lib Dems and the Greens. But what moral authority do these minor parties have to form part of the government? The Tories, in third place, would surely have a better claim than either.
Indeed, on this logic the most morally legitimate coalition would be between the two largest parties: an SNP-Labour ‘dream ticket’. None of that unseemly mucking around with the minor parties – who are, by definition, the least popular.
No takers? Then you need a different moral logic.