From election to government…?

There is an interesting, almost throwaway line at the bottom of Gerry Moriarty’s study of South Belfast today. It’s from Alex Maskey on the DUP (subs needed):

“The DUP’s last Assembly manifesto was for a fair deal, not for no deal. They could pay a high price if they fluff this opportunity because, the unionists I have managed to engage with, I am very, very sure that they want the Assembly up and running.”

Brian Feeney explores a parallel to that line of thinking when he notes that:

Blair does not intend to exit Downing Street a few weeks after being faced down by Ian Paisley. How ignominious an end to his wretched premiership would that be? We are not privy to the dire warnings Blair has given Paisley but you can be sure that unionism will pay dearly if Blair is humiliated.

There will be an election unless Paisley has the guts to say he will not share power with Sinn Féin.

He will not do that because, like Blair, he wants to go out on a high note, to crown a career of dangerous, negative, incendiary rhetoric with a period in office whatever the price.

So what is likely to concentrate such apparently disparate minds?

According to one senior journalist Slugger talked to this morning, the post election phase will see a shift to the door of No11 Downing Street. And it is likely to be a very different affair to the Blair/Powell ‘Tell us what you’d like for Christmas’ Show.

We understand that the ‘austere and prudent’ Chancellor may insist that further requests for additional revenue will need to made, not in terms of narrow party interest, but in terms of the joint interest of any prospective government.

Interesting play, if it comes to pass…

  • Yokel

    Maskey is right. The DUP are to drive a hard bargain but ultimately do a deal.

    Mick, I think your senior journalist misses the key issue. Fine, Gordon isn’t going to bring the chequebook out but his desire for a quick ‘win’ that NI could present him with, is what he will focus on, espcially if the DUP stall on a deal timeline.

    I’ll say it again, the DUP have, apparently, spoken to Brown’s people. I have no idea of the outcome so draw your own conclusions.

  • Yok,

    I am not sure Gordon is quite naive enough to believe that anyone will get quick victories out of NI… But it could indicate a smooth segway between one approach and the other…

  • mickhall

    We are not back to the guessing game are we, lets not encourage them.

    Surly the UK government would not have called an election if they felt the DUP would be unwilling to enter government with SF. [If so the British government should cease work on the MI5 building, for they are getting very little return on their money, what with the spooks not knowing what big Ian is up to and WMD.]

    Having said that, by not entering government, what a God Almighty kick in the pants Paisley would be giving Blair before they both depart the stage, and think what you like about the old brute, he does have a good sense of humor.

    He is only human and must be just a little tempted to wipe that silly smile of of Blairs face.

  • Yokel

    Mick & Mickhall

    The DUP are in a holding pattern because they don’t know how the election turns out. If they get a decent result (and they probably will) then the issue is detail, mainly timing but teh bais cmandate to go ahead will be there.

    No one should underestimate two things:

    a) How much resentment there is with Blair and in particular the feeling he’s legacy hunting and, on the unionist side a feeling that he’d sell his children to SF to get his deal. They’d love to stick two fingers up to him.

    b) That the Gordon faction frankly don’t want Tony get a crowning glory. It’ll only be pressure from the sidelines. It’s not that they want to see NI go up in smoke

    Add those together you get the possibility of time shifted (into Gordon’s time) but next to no other major changes Assembly up and running.

    I don’t think Gordon is some bang on pro Ulster style unionist, he may not prove so apparently generous as Tony, but he may prove more straight and less ‘nationalist’ in outlook. I doubt very much we’ll see major concessions to the DUP from Gordon but frankly he won’t need to unless the DUP over reach themselves. Things are, by and large, in place.

  • Even by the normal, whiny heights of self pity Sinn Fein attain, “the unionists I have managed to engage with” is one of the more priceless bits of Provospeak I’ve heard in recent years. That’d be as opposed to the unionists you used to murder? Poor diddums, no one hugging you back.

  • Greenflag


    ‘but he may prove more straight and less ‘nationalist’ in outlook. ‘

    On the other hand he may prove more crooked and thus more ‘unionist’ in outlook.

    IIRC Blair has described himself as pro Union -it’s just that his ‘unionism’ might not be of the same qulaity or thickness as Paisley’s and the OO.

  • Yokel

    Tony Blair says a lot of things Greenfleg….

  • Snapper

    Karl Rove –

    Who is “you”, in “..the unionists you used to murder..”?

    Would really love an answer please.

  • Sorry the syntax was so evidently hard to follow. That was ‘you’ as in ‘Alex Maskey’. And it’s a statement that holds good even if all he did in ‘the IRA’ was make the tea.

  • Snapper

    Karl Rove,

    I suggest that you put up or shut up.


    if this is not man playing then I don’t know what is. I seem to recall being red-carded for much less some time ago.

  • Greenflag


    ‘Tony Blair says a lot of things Greenflag….’

    True- but then so too has Paisley and for twice as long as Blair . Whether Paisley will ‘reverse’ his anti Irish/Republican/Catholic /Fenian fervour so that he can sit at the same table as McGuinness or Adams remains to be seen . I *&*%#@#*&* hope not -that way this farce of an Assembly will be buried -forever!

  • mickhall

    There is little doubt Brown is a Unionist, although his preference to maintain the union may centre on the UK Labour Party organizing within the north, if this were to happen it is difficult to believe the Tories would not follow suit, especially if they could cut a deal with the UUP, that would end in some sort of merger. The LP may if SF does not raise its game, take some of the working class nationalist vote as well as loyalist workers.

    Its a thought, it depends whether the UK trade unions would be prepared to run with such a reactionary formula.