A few months ago, First Minister Alex Salmond made the decision that the Scottish Government would decide how the Leveson proposals would be implemented in Scotland. No doubt with half an eye on the independence referendum, the opportunity to build a Scottish solution to a UK problem was simply too good to miss.
Today, given the Prime Minister has abandoned Leveson discussions with Labour and the Lib Dems, there will be a vote on Monday on whether Leveson will be underpinned by significant statutory legislation, as Miliband and Clegg prefer, or whether the press will get their own way with a Royal Charter, under Cameron’s proposals. The vote is expected to be very tight and the SNP may well hold a balance of power that it does not want.
Going by Evening Standard Paul Waugh’s calculations:
For a Royal Charter:
315 votes – Con + DUP + Ind
For statutory legislation:
314 votes – Lab + LD + Plaid + Green + SDLP + Alliance + Respect
As a matter of principle, the SNP does not vote on devolved matters, which Leveson patently is. However, if the six SNP MPs abstain on Monday, as they did for similar principles on the Equal Marriage vote a few months ago, then they will likely be handing David Cameron an important victory and opening the Nationalists up to charges of being Tartan Tories and helping ‘Salmond’s best buddy’ Rupert Murdoch.
It’s a bit of a nightmare lose-lose scenario, and the least worst solution is probably to vote alongside Labour and the Lib Dems, not to mention the McCanns.