Rearguard action against Westminster ‘blackmail’…

OPPONENTS of ‘orders in council’ – laws forced on Northern Ireland by Westminster without any changes permitted – have won a small victory in the House of Lords. It could mean the Government will wield less legislative leverage in future negotiations, and could find it harder to use the threat of imposing unpopular laws here to move the NI process forward, such as the Education Bill, which unionists are deeply opposed to and regard as blackmail.

  • Two points-

    a) it shouldn’t matter- if the rejectionists stopped messing about and formed an Executive, we wouldn’t have to worry about Orders in Council, and

    b) a key element of the draft legislation you missed out on was the ridiculous Tory amendment which would ban northern parties from fundraising in the south. So while parties like the SDLP would be banned from seeking support from their friends several miles away in the south, the DUP and UUP would still be allowed to seek support from their allies several hundred miles away in England. This is a ridiculous, partitionist and needless amendment and hopefully will be rejected by the British Government.

    The Tories cannot get elected to power in the Commons, so have to rely on their strength in the unaccountable Lords to implement their long-running cack-handed anti-nationalist agenda.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Here’s a thought. There’s a fair chance of a hung parliament next time round. This might be giving the DUP pause for thought, since it’s seats would give the party considerable leverage in the House of Commons.

    If its votes were needed by the Government in a particularly difficult vote (eg Iraq), it would be easier for the DUP to wring a few concessions out of Prime Minister Brown. And since changes will be permitted to be made to Orders in Council, in the event of a hung parliament or Govt with a small majority, would it not mean the DUP having a greater influence over primary legislation for Northern Ireland?

    That’s not to say it will happen, but there is a reasonable chance for it, with a good chance of being able to get something out of it.

    Forget November 24. It’s the next elections.

  • Bob Wilson

    Hard to disagreed with my fellw Conservative; Lord Glentoran:
    My Lords, I am afraid that I am going a stage further than the previous debate in proposing to leave out Clauses 12 and 13. Our Government have failed to explain how these proposals will be seriously implemented and managed. What the noble Lord, Lord Kilclooney, said is relevant, because I understand that even the Irish Government have grave concerns about the feasibility of accepting political donations from the vast pool of people worldwide who hold Irish citizenship. It is far too wide. However, it is not only the practical implementation of allowing foreign donations that I object to, but the continuing attitude—and in fairness the Minister made this point—that Northern Ireland is inherently unable ever to move on from its unfortunate past and develop a political system that accepts all the restraints and obligations of those that operate elsewhere in the United Kingdom. Northern Irish politics should not be subjected to abnormalities, exceptions and fudges any longer than it has to.

    There is no doubt that what is proposed is better than the current situation, but that does not mean that it is an acceptable end point. These proposals are another sign of the Government’s continuing failure to raise their expectations of what the Northern Irish people have the right to expect. Nowhere in the Belfast agreement was the idea that political funding should be allowed to remain a grey area, pandering to Sinn Fein’s refusal to behave within the constraints expected of normal democratic political parties. It is in principle wrong that non-nationals should be able to fund ideologies and actions of which they will never have to suffer the consequences. Northern Ireland politics should be decided by the people of Northern Ireland and the Minister and everyone else in your Lordships’ House have said that again and again. The principle of self-determination was stated repeatedly in the Belfast agreement, and that is what this Government should be working towards. Instead, these proposals drive a coach and horses through that principle, with scant regard for the long-term effect on the long and sometimes painful road that Northern Ireland must go down towards political normalisation. I beg to move.

  • Bob Wilson

    On Orders in Council – if there is to be no Assembly it can surely only be a good thing that MPs and peers can suggest amendments to legislation?

  • lib2016

    Gonzo,

    If you saw the funeral of the last Pope you should realise that the world has moved on. Catholics are the largest single church attending group left in England on any given Sunday, one of the conservative backbones of English society which Cameron must attract if he is to hold England for his party.

    Paisley and Co. are no inarticulate suits in the Molyneux mode, still less carefully presented Nobel winners like Trimble.

    It would be political suicide for Cameron and his party to become identified with the DUP and the loose cannons it contains. Labour would destroy them for ever.

  • Gonzo

    It’s nothing to do with ‘association’. It’s to do with one-off votes, and the bargaining that would be done around them.

    If you think ANY party wouldn’t deal with the DUP in Westminster because of some image problem, I fear you are very much mistaken.

    Cameron and Blair would sup with the Devil in the right circumstance. To think otherwise is folly.

  • willis

    Ahem!

    Perhaps these words from the Noble Lord Rooker at the end of the pitifully short education debate may inspire someone to open a thread on this!

    Some of the educational attainment among Protestant working-class boys is a damned disgrace.

    It was quite clear the Protestant working class was not being represented by working-class Protestants. They were being represented by people who were not pushing for those extra resources.

    That is the only way this could have been brought about. It is a really serious issue and I suspect that the point that the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, made is probably answered by low educational attainment, but these spivs and crooks certainly know how to manipulate the legal system for extortion.

    They can add up pounds, shillings and pence, if I can put it in that way.

    They know how to do blackmail and smuggling.

    They are not thick and stupid.

    They may not have an academic qualification but I do not think that is the criterion that one can use to measure this.

  • lib2016

    Gonzo,

    If there could be a deal done behind closed doors you are probably right….but a vote on the floor of the House which would reveal that the Conservatives were dependent on Paisley, McCrea and their friends. There’s no Orange Card – not this century.

    This is a party which has torn itself apart and run the risk of complete selfdestruction over Europe and you really expect it to touch a group which makes UKIP look like moderates.

    A party which was forced to expel the Monday Club because of the need to clean up the way it was perceived by the public needs the same public to associate it with the slogans seen over the last few days and a community whose only political friends in Europe are the BNP. You’re dreaming!

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Not dreaming. Realistic. Politicians will hold their noses for a lot of things. The DUP started throwing its weight around in the Commons over a couple of things earlier this year, and could, in a situation where there was a weak government, have significant influence over key votes.

    To think that both Labour and Conservatives wouldn’t be trying to woo the DUP’s 9 (or 10!) MPs in such circumstances is touchingly naive!

  • ALan

    Gonzo,

    Nose holding?

    I think we’d see a coalition before we’d see a Labour Gov’t dependent on DUP votes. Have you any conception of how much the DUP are detested on the Labour Benches? Rooker’s comments provide a good introduction to the study.