It’s off – official

While it was never officially on it is now officially off, Brown has said no autumn election and in Andrew Marr’s opinion, Brown’s comments mean a 2008 one is not on the cardseither. It takes the immediacy out of the Unionist pact talks however a deal sooner rather than later is still the wiser course. It also increases the likelihood it will be under new Westminster boundaries with the SDLP unhappiest about the latest proposals.

  • kensei

    Short run embarrassment for Brown and the Labour Party, but I doubt it’ll play two years hence. On the plus side for Labour he has got the Tories to show some of their cards, which he will no doubt nick or trash in the intervening period.

  • slug

    “On the plus side for Labour he has got the Tories to show some of their cards, which he will no doubt nick or trash in the intervening period.”

    Labour will nick the abolition of IHT for estates over £1m? Great victory that for Labour politics…

  • ulsterfan

    It will give UU and DUP a chance to get real talks going about a merger or agreed candidates.
    It is only a matter of time and the impetus will be FF ambition to open up shop in NI.

  • Unimpartial Observer

    Huge sighs of relief all round for the UUP!

    This at least gives the UUP time to dump its excuse for a leader ASAP and do its best to lay the groundwork with a new direction, and a new leader, for an election next year.

    As for Labour – well this has been a very bad week indeed, and anyone old enough to remember Callaghan’s 1978 decision to postpone the election will be all too aware of the fatal consequences of that delay.

  • Ginfizz

    UO has hit the nail sqaurely on the head. From an NI point of view, the UUP must be delighted and from a GB point of view GB (he of the Brown variety) now looks like a gutless wonder who was merely jerking around with the voters. I expect the Tories eventually to return to their end-of-Blair status now – 3/4% clear of Labour and a hung Parliament likely. If the economy starts to go down the plug-hole Labour are in the soup!

  • Sir Herbert Mercer

    What is the point of the “the latest proposals” link? It directs towards this blog.

  • kensei

    “Labour will nick the abolition of IHT for estates over £1m? Great victory that for Labour politics…”

    Surely it was under £1m? He mightn’t go all the way, but he might raise the threshold to make it less of an issue. All I can say on Labour is that the Tories would be worse. The dog whistle stuff was well in force at their conference.


    “UO has hit the nail sqaurely on the head.”

    No, he didn’t. Labour had to call an election the following Spring in 1978. Brown doesn’t have to call an election for another 3 years. If a week is a long time in politics, how long is that?

  • The separatists in Wales, Scotland, N.Ireland and the Ulster Nationalists needed a quick election. And if the NOW poll results were accurate, then the English Nationalists would also have had a helluva boost- a UK government would have been elected which commanded less than majority of English votes.

    Now, we can relax.
    Let’s sit back with a nice juicy Havanna and Bushmills and watch the “Devoltion Project” *develop* and crumble in three parts of the kingdom…

    Result for all true UK Unionists right across the board.

  • Turgon

    Like others I regard Unimpartial Observer’s comments on the UUP as very accurate. An election now would have been a big problem for them, time might help.

    Of course time might also help the prodiban. With a snap election there would have been no prodiban organisation (there is not even a party yet). Failure to stand would have been very damnaging maybe fatal as would standing and having a disaster of McCartney type proportions.

    With time it may be possible to create an organisation and there may (though not necessarily) be further disenchanment with the deal. I still think the prodiban mountain is extremely high but at least we can have a bit of time to acclimatise to the height needed.

  • PP

    I read this different. Peter Robinson and the DUP that will be relieved. The perception of Paisley and McGuiness getting on so well would have had many unionsits making an emotional response and voting for Allister and Co. Photos of the “chuckle brothers” will be less emotive in 18 months time. Now PR and the DUP need to get the message across of the pragmatism of power sharing with SF.

  • fair_deal

    Sir herbert

    Link fixed

  • Turgon

    That is a very reasonable counter suggestion. I think you are right that the pictures and events will be less emotive. However, at the moment the prodiban have no structure at all, no workers and the candidates will be presented as nutters, malcontents and irrelevant (except possibly Allister). In addition if time passes and Paisley does not stand in North Antrim his personal vote will not necessarily transfer to his heir and Allister’s chance could be enhanced.

    It is a close call but I think they have a better chance if the election is delayed. Also it postpones the day of reckoning for me to have to get Elenwe’s permission to go canvassing for the prodiban.

  • Nevin

    No election also means that journalistic and DCMS resources will not be diverted from the ongoing Causeway saga – and that could put a different form of pressure on the Chuckle Brothers. Will Comical Marty stand by his man, Papa Doc? Opportunities for ‘spit-in-the-hand’ horse-trading?

  • Nevin

    “It also increases the likelihood it will be under new Westminster boundaries with the SDLP unhappiest about the latest proposals.”

    How about an alternative proposal? Why not six constituencies with three MPs from each elected by PR?

  • Nevin

    [aside]Gordon has been left to pick up the pieces as US officials were angered by ‘blase’ attitude to IRA.

  • Picador

    When will the boundary changes come into effect?

  • Bigger Picture


    I also have to comment on your posts on this blog. It is interesting to know where the prodiban types can go from here. I understand your points that they know have time and structures can be put in place. However i think a reactionist vote would have been their best springboard at an election this autumn, otherwise what momentum do they have to build on?? Am i right in saying that no more elections are due now till 2009??

    The reality now is that it is up to the DUP to wipe out opposition in terms of Allister and Co by standing up to SF and delivering real results over the next two years. I have no doubt that personnel may have to change for this to occur but if it can be then i doubt people will see Allister and Co as having very little to offer.

    As well i think Allister would have been looking for an election at this stage as it would have given him a mandate of sorts to carry on his letter writing campaign and a springboard to any future euro/assembly fight. As it now stands they have to wait the guts of two years in which time alot may change and result in a complete dominance of the DUP’s position (if they realise the opportunity they now have).

    I suppose alot can happen in two years and to be fair Turgon your analysis is accurate if everything stays the same but two years is an awful long stretch of time in politics and i think the DUP really know how good an opportunity they now have to get things right and get all unionists on their side.

  • Bigger Picture

    Also as a further point i will write this.

    It may be true that it took years to oust Trimble from his position. However the difference lies in the fact that during the first run of the assembly there was 18 DUP MLA’s plus McCartney and the united unionist crowd, plus Peter Weir and Pauline Armitage in the UUP who were setting about the task of underming the assembly and the executive at that time.

    The current crowd have no one to voice their concerns except Allister in the Euro Parliament and some low level councillors. They are starting from a far far lower base and given that opposition is considerably lower than that of 1998 it will be very difficult for Allister and co to keep momentum going. As i said a springboard resistance vote in an Autumn election would have been what the prodiban needed as it is pontificating in the scarcley reported Euro parliament and writing letters will not undermine the DUP in the places were it needs to happen.

    The DUP should be licking their lips now if they get the thing done right then they are set in NI for the long haul.

  • Unimpartial Observer

    Kensei – fair point. I’d be the first to admit that my natural (cultural?) bias towards the Tories may be clouding my judgement here!

    But I still think Gordon’s “bottling it” will have major long-term ramifications for him.

    But then I would have thought the Northern Bank imbroglio would have damaged him also. Turns out it actually strengthened him!

    And in fairness I can see that with the polls having been so much against him it would have been seen as quite reckless (and out-of-character) for Brown to go to the country at this juncture.

    I do think he should front up and be honest about his reasons – the huge and unforeseeable sudden swing to the Tories – and stop trying to spin the sort of guff he gave Andrew Marr!

  • Unimpartial Observer

    Turgon – you are quite right that this does give Jim Allister and the ‘prodiban’ more time to try and get their show on the road.

    Problem is – similarly to the UUP – will they use that time effectively and take the election scare as a “wake up call”; – or will they just keep on going the way they have been?

    In all honesty, Jim Allister needs a far higher calibre of people around him if he is to make his movement successful.

    He needs more of the likes of Turgon, and less of the likes of the 5th-rate numpties whom he had around him at Moygashel.

    Allister, much as I would disagree him on practically everything (!), is a serious, heavyweight politician.

    I was very struck by the gaping chasm of the contrast at Moygashel – where you had a heavyweight like Allister, seemingly surrounded by people who are at best 5th-division cast-offs and at worst stark raving mad (like the councillor who blamed the 2005 Asian Tsunami on gay people in Thailand(!!) etc etc)

    Perhaps I am being overly harsh in my judgement, but I feel Allister really needs a few more heavyweights if he is to amount to anything more than Sidehow Bob.

  • Dewi

    Mark Devenport just mentioned “The Prodiban” on the tele…LMAO – I thought it was just used on here !!

  • Bigger Picture


    But how much of a heavy weight is Allister really?? (and that is with all due respect to him) Lest we forget he got elected off a DUP campaign were he handed in his DUP membership forms along with his nomination for Europe. He has sat in Europe and been ignored to a degree by the DUP back home to diminish his profile. Now there is no doubt he is a capable and hard working political figure but i don’t think he has the reputation that many people feel he has outside his own followers, whose crictisms of, i fully agree as UO has set

  • Outsider

    Allister is a pretty big player and with the correct tactical manuavres he had give the DUP at the very least a bloody nose in the next election, although he needs to learn from Bob McCartneys mistakes.

  • Turgon

    Bigger Picture,
    Sadly I have had to do other unimportant things like family and work so can only now respond to your post. Reading your comments, on reflection, I think your analysis could well be better than mine on this.

    I agree that the annoyance and blacklash against the current arrangement and the DUP position may well fade. I fear it may soon become something which is just accepted with a resigned shrug. An early election would probably have been better from the point of view of mobilising people angered by the DUP entery into government with SF.

    The problem with an early election from a prodiban point of view would have been the complete lack of organisation; lack of workers to canvas; lack of funds for posters etc. Also they might have had to run less well known politicians or ones seen as past it or malcontents etc. The DUP would of course have played on this.

    Allister himself is well enough known to have weathered that and it is possible he would have had a good showing in South Antrim. That might have galvanised a new party and provided a spring board to future success. A good showing might have allowed a party to be set up (but I think might is the operative word). A victory would have really been a huge spring board. I do not know whether or not he could have actually taken the seat though and even a good showing, if defeated could have been seen as the prodiban have had their best shot and failed. So a good non victorious showing although it might have helped could also have been seen as a death knell.

    Now with time to build a party there may be a chance of a coordinated party attempt at subsequent elections. Again though you are correct in stating that a lack of elections in the near future and stopping of the obvious love in will hurt the prodiban.

    So I really do not know whether election or no election would have been the best outcome for the prodiban. It may well be that we are fated to fail no matter what happens.

    To an extent I guess I personally am glad we can wait because I am a pretty cautious person by nature and at least I can have hope, to have had the election and lost heavily would probably have destroyed us.

    Unimpartial Observer,
    The idea of a wake up call is very valid and they do need to do something but as Bigger Picture observes waiting has problems. Thank you incidentally for your kind remarks to me personally.

    I guess overall the mountain is vast whatever happens and whatever the prodiban do. It is a bit of an Everest for the prodiban. Still George Mallory is a bit of a hero of mine so we might as well have an heroic and doomed attempt.