Who picks up the tab for a (potentially) pointless election?

There’s been talk from the NIO that if the negotiations crash and burn on his deadline, a new election may have to be called before an Assembly be formed. Accordingly Julian Robertson, leader of the Conservatives in Northern Ireland, emailed Slugger yesterday. Whilst he remains sceptical that the plug will be pulled on 26th March, he nevertheless has some interesting questions for the Secretary of State for Wales, etc..

Will political parties who contested the election in good faith be able to claim their election expenses back from the government? How can we be expected to contest elections for an Assembly which is closed down after 18 days? Will we be expected to fund another election in 18 months time when the Assembly is to be resurrected? Surely we are being priced out of democracy?

I think we should be told!

  • joeCanuck

    The ones who will have a lot of explaining to do, to an apparently increasingly sceptical electorate, will be the DUP.
    They are going to do the once unthinkable but does it really depend on the demise of a certain confused octogenarian?

  • bruce

    It would hardly be the DUP who will take the blame as they would be going into devolution if republicans have done what is necessary. If there is no devolution then you can blame a certain bearded wonder who was never in the IRA.

  • Personally I blame themuns!

  • well 2 comments equally distributive of the blame game.
    Wonder what D’odds are of an Assembly?
    Does anyone give ADams?
    Fri hunour 😉

  • joeCanuck

    As I requested on another thread, Bruce,
    Can you tell us what, specifically, SF now need to do to satisfy your party?

  • Comrade Stalin

    It would hardly be the DUP who will take the blame as they would be going into devolution if republicans have done what is necessary. If there is no devolution then you can blame a certain bearded wonder who was never in the IRA.


    Joe is right. Anytime anyone asks you guys about devolution, you come back with the party line about waiting for republicans to deliver.

    What precisely are we all waiting for ?

  • Crataegus

    There should not have been an election called until this was sorted out it is that simple.

    Failure to grasp this either highlights incompetence, or is an attempt to use the electoral process as a bargaining ploy in the overall negotiations.

    In either case many people have been put to expense and suffered direct loss as a consequence of the decision to call the election.

    Candidates put themselves forward with the express intention of being elected to serve the electorate. They committed time and money on that basis.

    If there is an implosion I would be of the opinion that the NI Office should foot the Bill for the direct costs plus the costs of the time of those who went out to canvass, put up posters etc.

    Calling an election is a serious matter, calling an election to a body that in all probability will not function is putting faith and hope before common sense. Worse than that it is using and abusing people.

    Perhaps Hain knows something the rest of us don’t?

  • Mick Fealty


    At this moment, we are just waiting for a deadline, no more, no less. As Douglas Adams once put it:

    “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by”.

  • JohnT

    Although I’m not a DUP supporter, SF seem determined to hand them a justification for not entering government. I nearly kicked in the TV last Sunday watching the Catriona Ruane interview.

    Just answer the bloody questions on policing. I’m sure even republicans were embarrassed by her ‘I’m not going to play your game’ nonsense. I can just imagine the reaction of the average DUP supported.

    Lets have clarity, for once.

  • Taffy

    In many respects the DUP triumph at the election was an illuson, because it disguised the most significant fact: the inevitable decline of unionism and the inexorable rise of nationalism

    For example, the combined DUP/UUP seat count was -3 in contrast to the 2 gains of SF/SDLP compared with the 2003 Assembly results. The vote share of the two unionists parties was down-3.3% compared with the +0.9% SF/SDLP vote.

    Further, an analysis of the total first preference votes for each side shows that the nationalist vote is now only 25,129 below the total DUP/UUP result. Again if we examine the extents of the unionist decline in the north-east heartland (Antrim, Belfast etc)of the province, the losses are even more dramatic.

    Thus, it’s a matter of time before unionism is in a minority,and the prospect ot a united Ireland looms ever closer. From a Welsh perspective it would seem reasonable for the DUP decide to share power with its neighbour while it has the chance.

  • Frustrated Democrat


    Time you learnt some hard reality.

    SF got their vote out the unionists didn’t, in any referendum the vote would be at worst 60:40 in favour of the UK.

    So no UI in the next 2 or 3 generations and probably not ever if the assembly gets up and running and people are happy with it.

  • Rubicon

    The questions Julian Robertson poses points to a more serious issue. It would seem fair to compensate the political parties (or at least most of the parties) but this would not produce any resolution. Wouldn’t it be better to require all candidates standing for election to undertake that they will take their seats and support the institution to which they want membership?

    Such a requirement would obviate any need for compensation as well as providing a working Assembly.

  • Crataegus


    Firstly FD is right turnout in Unionist areas was lower but if there was a border poll I can guarantee they would be queuing at the polling stations at 7am.

    The only possibility of there being a united Ireland in the near future is if Nationalist persuade a portion of the Unionist community that a United Ireland would be a good idea. Currently they are going about that courtship in a very odd way.

    In the process of winning people over I would imagine that it would be in the interests of both sides to have an Assembly that worked, but who know if that will happen. As I said odd people, odd constraints.

    The other problem with the united Ireland is all the boring practicalities of harmonisation of various forms of administration, laws and tax structures. We are currently in the Sterling zone and moving across to the Euro has potential problems and benefits. Would people in the north still enjoy joint citizenship? What sort of Ireland, would there be regional assemblies etc etc etc. There are a lot of issues that would need to be addressed before you could have a meaningful ballot.

  • Nevin

    Mick, SO’T posters might be interested in the Blair’s Legacy link on the http://www.conservativesni.org/ site – filed under Blogroll. Jeremy Paxman has a low key whinge about NI politicans from the comfort of the Merchant’s Hotel.

  • Bill

    Would people in the north still enjoy joint citizenship?

    Citizenship would be decided by the rquirements of the country whose passport was wanted as pointed out elsewhere on slugger.

  • Taffy

    The decline in the unionist vote was due to a continuing reduction of their share of the total vote. This is a result of demographic change; not a failure to ‘get the unionist vote out.’

    Even from this side of the Irish Sea it appears that nationalists are approaching parity, and will eventually have a majority of the population.

    Inevitably there will be a strong movement towards unification, but I agree it will rest with the will of that new majority. Some may not want to enter a united Ireland straight away.

    Harmonization should not be too much of a problem given the declared intention of the UK not to stand in the way of the expressed will of the Irish people. We are also mindful of the ease with which Germany was able to resolve the ideological differences dividing East and West Germany.

  • Spinster

    Julian is onto something. Why should parties with generously funded Westminster and EU seats be allowed to call the shots? This is taxation by exhaustion. Give all the parties a pound per vote as suggested for GB. Then let the largest cross community group of MLAs that show up at Peter Hain’s door be the government. Waiting for SFDUP consensus is tosh.

  • Realist

    Within the next week the DUP have the biggest circle to square that they have ever had to confront. Where has all the talk about the Northern Bank money having to be handed over and the McCartney killers produced gone to? That mantra, put out right up to the election, has been replaced with the begging bowl and the whinging about a financial deal. Talk about everyone having their price!! They might have the mandate at the moment and they probably intend to live off the back of that for a good few years. If their European member of Parliament follows through on his threat and resigns his seat if the big man sits down with the shinners then watch the sale of toilet tissues increase in the shops around DUP HQ. That mandate will look sick if a disillusioned part of their electoral support decides that they were conned and the DUP slip to third place in a European by-election the crowing will stop. They want to see the back of Jim anyway but he could have the last huge belly laugh at them and whats the betting he wouldn’t stand as a principiled Independent DUP?