Tories: “There was no discussion of a hung parliament.”

Well, it seems that Eamonn’s story about the Tories meeting with the DUP and UUP in London over the weekend has kicked up a minor storm… But in a statement (carried below the fold), the Conservatives deny there was any discussion of a hung parliament. In fact the senior Conservative spokesman insisted the discussions were focused on the current difficulties at Stormont. The spokesman claims Owen Paterson was meeting the two parties in his capacity as shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland:

“What this was, was the shadow Secretary of State as somebody who could potentially be the actual Secretary of State in a matter of weeks, holding private talks with representatives of the two main unionist parties to explore how we might overcome some of the political instabilities at Stormont, and to avoid a situation in which we might potentially, should we win the election, inherit a collapsed Assembly and direct rule.

“That is an entirely responsible role for a potential Secretary of State, away from the glare of the media.

“So far as the Westminster election is concerned, the only deal is the current deal between the Conservatives and the Ulster Unionists. We will be putting up 18 Conservative and Unionist candidates at the next election, offering the people of Northern Ireland national politics and the chance to vote for modern, centre-right inclusive candidates.

“There was no discussion of a hung parliament.”

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  • Drumlins Rock

    thats that sorted then, alot of wild speculation over nothing it seems.

  • Jaggers

    Presumably Mr Paterson will be meeting with SF/SDLP this coming weekend to “to explore how we might overcome some of the political instabilities at Stormont, and to avoid a situation in which we might potentially, should we win the election, inherit a collapsed Assembly and direct rule.” Right !!!

    It’s not for nothing that Nick Clegg of the Lib Dems is attracting the Kingmaker moniker and 10-12 unionist MPs might become significant to the Tories.

    As I said on another thread, this meeting has the unpleasant smell of gerrymandering about it and is significantly different to a peer-to-peer agreement between the DUP and UCUNF in that it was being overseen by what is seen as the govt in waiting. Not cricket, Mr Paterson.

  • Ulick

    …holding private talks with representatives of the two main unionist parties to explore how we might overcome some of the political instabilities at Stormont

    So why did they attempt to keep it secret and why were the other parties not invited?

  • mayday

    I think many have missed the point over this issue. It would be irresponsible for the Conservatives not to seek to stabilise the policial process in Northern Ireland. Woodwards attempts have been shambolic. A new Conservative administration doesn’t wish to have to pick up a collapsed process in Northern Ireland and the electorate should be very worried about SF creating a poltical void where dissidents can gain an initiative in progressing their violence. Realignment cannot be seen as gerrymandering but rather creating a new choice for the electorate. The real choice could be vote for a voice in national politics or a vote for abstentionism and political siberia

  • crazy fenian 32

    Maybe eamon might do us a favour an put it to the torys when they plan to meet the shinners an s.d.l.p.If the torys think it important to meet the unionist in secret we can asume that if sinn fein pull the plug on the asembley its the fault of the unionist playing hard ball on issues still outstanding from st andys aggreement.

  • granni trixie

    If these talks were anything more than to help ‘sort out’ an impass in the current negotiations (which I believe is the case whatever the Tory spokesperson says), then the timing is significant as it is irresponsible to distract participants energy into electroral pacts etc instead of getting to yes in NI.

    Plus, why was PR there? Wasn’t the reason he had handed over to Arlene so that he could ahem give his full attention to sorting out family matters,coming in as a player only for key elements of the negotiations?

    Hardly builds the public’s confidence in politicans/politics.

  • tacapall

    Realignment cannot be seen as gerrymandering but rather creating a new choice for the electorate.

    Posted by mayday on Jan 21, 2010 @ 11:55 AM

    How can this not be “Gerrymandering”, single party voice for Unionism, this would be “political siberia”, why blame Sinn Fein they are only demanding what Unionists agreed to in an Internationally binding agreement. The real issue is what are the sticking points, what does Unionism want in return for honouring their side of the deal. The Conservatives see an “opportunity” to cover their backs in the event of a hung parliament promising Unionists the old “British bulldog” politics. No point in talking to Nationalists with Sinn Fein not taking their seats.

  • Does anyone think the Tories would want it to be known that they are even contemplating a hung Parliament. This story has to be bedded because it has wider implications than our corner of the country. Tories learning the difficulties of operating in small political region. While not on a talks ‘agenda’, there is no doubt Tories will be evaluating all scenarios including that of a hung Parliament and making efforts to reach out to the DUP just in case.

  • The Conservative statement still leaves scope for a Conservative-UUP-DUP pact vis-a-vis Westminster candidates.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Ok unless someone has some firm evidence that indicates more to this the facts are –
    the DUP knows it cant really do a deal saying there is “community confidence” without some sort of agreement from the UUP.
    I’m guessing here that any face to face meeting between the two could easily descend into a slanging match.
    Owen and the Conservatives want this wrapped up before they come into office so they “facilitate” the meeting.
    They decide to have it in England and in private to try prevent the mass hysteria that the multiple post on here have been evidence of.

    That to me seems to be all that the participants says took place, can anyone show me any evidence to the countary? things dont always have to be complicated conspiracies and plots.

  • Nevin
    “The Conservative statement still leaves scope for a Conservative-UUP-DUP pact vis-a-vis Westminster candidates.”

    What they said was:

    “We will be putting up 18 Conservative and Unionist candidates at the next election, offering the people of Northern Ireland national politics and the chance to vote for modern, centre-right inclusive candidates.”

    So, theoretically, if the DUP put forward modern and inclusive candidates under the Conservative and Unionist banner then yes, there is still scope.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    The Conservatives in Northern Ireland will not support DUP candidates under any banner. The ethos of the DUP membership will not fit with Conservative policies and principles.

    The purpose of the CU deal was to move NI politics away from a sectarian headcount into normal politics, this could not under any circumstances include the DUP.

    So disregard all the media hot air and DUP spin they will not be part of any voting pact with the CU’s. That is of course unless they decide unilaterally not to put up candidates in South Belfast or Fermanagh and South Tyrone.

  • Jaggers

    Frustrated Democrat, for an overview of the Tory’s markers and red lines for alingnment, take a look at their partners in the European Parliament and then come back and say the DUP would “not fit with Conservative policies and principles”

  • FD, I should imagine that the purpose of the UCUNF deal was, from a Conservative perspective, to enhance Conservative opportunities in the event of a hung parliament. This card would soon become a joker if the Conservatives achieved a decent majority.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Nevin

    No, that was NEVER the purpose of the deal, it was a NI initiative between local UUP members and Conservatives here to introduce mainstream politics to NI. There are heading for 400 Conservative members in NI who have always wanted national politics.

    Remember this deal dates back for almost 2 years and was thought in the first instance to have the possibility of only 1 or 2 seats in 2010. It is only now possible to project that this could be more due to the TUV and DUP shambles. Personally I think it unlikley that there will be a hung parliament in any event as most polls are showing a 10%-14% lead with a steady 40% and this has never been overturned in such a short space of time, however who knows – a week… etc..

    Jaggers

    The EU is not Westminister and I have looked at their partners in the EU, have you? Or are you just spouting Labour propaganda, look at all their partners and tell me they are all lily white!

  • granni trixie

    FD: any relative to IJP?

  • Jaggers

    Frustrated Democrat, far be it for me to appear supportive of the British Labour Party but their block in the EU, the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, do appear more wholesome than the European Conservatives and Reformists, particularly some of the latter’s members from former Warsaw Pact countries. Mind you given that the DUP refuses to align itself with any grouping in the EU you may have a point that it may be a step too far to see a tie-up with the Tories. My point is the Tories don’t have ideological problems in aligning with parties whose views are radically different to their own.

    The EU is indeed not Westminster but neither is Westminster the same as Northern Ireland – in the overall scheme of things, Northern Ireland is a tiny part of the UK with a population 5 times that of Croydon. I don’t think the Tories would lose any sleep in doing deals with a party in such an insignificant part of the whole if it were to shore up a majority in a hung parliament.

  • Frustrated Democrat, polls not so clear cut, and margins are tight. Check out UKpolling and a commentary here: http://www.thedissenter.co.uk/2009/10/conservative-practicality/

  • Frustrated Democrat

    GT

    You are obviously quite new, I have been posting on this site for a very long time and long long before IJP joined the Conservative party and the deal was ever thought of.

    So the answer is NO.

    Dissenter

    The answer is in the constituency detail for the key marginals, the margin is much greater where it needs to be.

    The public national polling figures have been static for many months apart from an occasional blip up or down Cons 40/41 Labour 29/30 a lead which will give a comfortable majority

  • Jaggers

    FD, with a Tory lead of over 9% required to avoid a hung parliament, I would say the Tory position was precarious – for example, the Ipsos MORI poll on 22 November 2009 placed the Tories 6% ahead of Labour and even if you dismiss this as a blip and say Tories are at 41% and Labour at 29%, it doesn’t require a major change to bring the difference below 9%, at which point there can be hung parliament in the Tories favour.
    Indeed if the Tories poll towards the trend but just lose out of an overall majority, then it might be preferable to rely on 10-12 unionist MPs of whatever shade than have to offer significant compromises to Nick Clegg and Co. And even if the Tories do a deal with the Lib Dems, it would be a useful tactic to have the possibility of alternative support as a bargaining tool.