Three stories in one

Published: Apr 23 , 2015
Author: Alan Smith

We are in political season, so I make no apology for another observation on the political landscape, from which the negotiator can learn so much.

All three stories involve the SNP.

Story 1. As the tension and torture of last year’s Scottish independence referendum fade away, the resurgent SNP wants to go again – perhaps as early as next year.

In a TV debate between the four Scottish party leaders, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said that although the SNP candidates standing for election in Westminster in May would not be pushing for another referendum, the next elections for the Scottish parliament, due to take place on 5 May 2016, were “another matter”.

This marks a change in tact for the SNP, after former leader Alex Salmond said the referendum last year had settled the issue “for a generation”.

The point here being that the negotiator needs to be constantly aware and ready for the next battle. Just because conflict has gone away, does not mean it will not come back. Change is constant, conflict is often a component part of change.

Story 2. The cabinet secretary and head of the civil service Sir Jeremy Heywood has ordered an inquiry into a leaked memo claiming Nicola Sturgeon said David Cameron would be preferable as Prime Minister to Labour leader Ed Miliband.

The Scottish First Minister and leader of the SNP said the claims, published in the Telegraph from a leaked memo apparently written by a civil servant, were "categorically, 100 per cent untrue".

Sturgeon accused Whitehall of "dirty tricks" and wrote to Heywood asking him to investigate the leak. Smoke and fire come to mind, however it does show that we are always on, and the story has to be consistent and clear. Moreover the whole team need to stay together. Are your team saying the same thing as you? Is the team ‘on message’

Story 3. The SNP currently has six MPs at Westminster, but opinion polls suggest this could increase considerably following the May’s election.

Former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has previously indicated he believes there is a chance the party could hold the balance of power.

There is much speculation that the SNP, led by Nicola Sturgeon, may try to form an alliance with Labour if a hung parliament occurs in May’s general election. If this happens, it could stop the Conservative Party coming into power even if it won the most seats in England.

It will be interesting to see how hard the SNP push tough guy Miliband for concessions in order to win their support. Indeed it will be interesting to see in the face of a poll that suggests almost 60% of the UK voters see a  minority Labour government propped up by the SNP would be the worst possible outcome of the general election, whether such an alliance would be possible.

Pushing a short term advantage mean seem very attractive at that moment, but pushing it too hard might be problematic in the long term. Have a view about the long term strategic implication of what you do today on tomorrow.

Alan Smith


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Muck Shift

Just when is a deal not a deal…? I heard this story from a friend of mine the other week; there are some lessons to be learned! So, my pal is a developer and is building some houses on what is essentially a square site. Two sides of the square can be accessed from the road in a neighboring housing estate and the other two are beside a field owned by another developer. There is a huge pile of muck to shift before the actual building project; this phase is known in the trade – and not unreasonably - as a "muck-shift"! As there will be 80 -100 lorries coming in and out each day for 6 weeks, it was considered more convenient to access the site over the field, so an approach was made to the developer to discuss the terms under which he would allow access. This is a standard arrangement and the deal typically is that the field would be returned to the owner in its original condition. Developer makes a bit of money, where otherwise he wouldn’t; homeowners in the adjoining estate are less inconvenienced; builder does not need to spend money cleaning the streets and getting them back to a usable state at the end of the project. Win-win.

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