Unionist pacts receeding?

The possibility of a unionist pact in South Belfast and Fermanagh South Tyrone at the next election has been questioned by Sammy Wilson. Owen Paterson has apparently confirmed that the Conservative Party will be contesting every Westminster seat at the next general election. He refused to speculate on any deal between the UUP and Conservatives. If there was a joint Conservative / UUP candidate that would effectively end any chance of ousting Michelle Gildernew. Clearly this could be a very negative effect for the UUP from an agreement with the Tories. This episode also shows either that some Conservatives do not fully understand the nuances of Northern Ireland politics or that they do not care that much for issues which many unionists would regard as highly important.

  • Terry

    I’m afraid Turgon that the idea of voting pacts, which encourage people to vote for a single ideal against another ideal, ignoring the concept of parties and policies, is the very antithesis of functioning, flourishing, democracy. Extremely negative unionism, which such pacts represent, are the very sort of thing which drives hundreds of young Protestant unionists to leave Northern Ireland for the rest of GB when they leave university, never to return. They are petty, and in the worst instances amount to little more than conspiratorial anti-democratic gerrymandering. Looking at the figures from those who actually voted in Fermanagh-South Tyrone in the past couple of elections, there is a clear nationalist majority in that constituency. Trying to stitch it up for unionism is the sort of thing that encourages political radicalism amongst the community on the other side and is very bad for the unionist community in the long term. The birth-rate in Fermanagh is massively higher in the nationalist community and hence it’s a lost cause for unionism. Give it up.

  • Dewi

    Owen Paterson? Is he important? Terry – you are right about the demographics of FST but one last throw of the dice might have a chance…..

  • Turgon,

    … some Conservative’s do not fully understand the nuances of Northern Ireland politics

    The plural of Conservative is Conservatives.

    Did you really think that they (the Tories) were going to jump in to NI as a ‘new, improved’ unionist party? Do you think they have any interest in you squalid little bigotries? You know them so badly, it’s quite sad.

    And, as Terry says, the democratic choice in F/ST is nationalist. Your obsession with trying to replace the choice of the majority with a minority candidate is interesting. Not democratic, mind – just ‘interesting’.

  • aquifer

    Voters should be able to chose between a party of an for the union and schismatics whose sectarian identity dooms the union.

    Why vote for Pepsi when you can have the real thing?

    And aside from the principles involved, conservatives could get quite a few votes now that the ethnic outbidders have had their credibility crunched by co-operating and then not co-operating in government.

  • Turgon

    Horseman,
    Sorry I hate it when people make that mistake and now I have made it. I will correct it immediately.

    In terms of the Tories I agree.

    Strangely I also have a certain sympathy with your comments about it being anti democratic to try to remove an SF MLA. However a number of parties have done similar in the past including I believe the SDLP and Alliance.

    I also think it reasonable to try to remove an individual who does not attend parliament and who has stated that she would not encourage people to report criminals to the police.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Turgon,

    Pete B. has just opened up another thread on this subject.

  • ??

    Did you really think that they (the Tories) were going to jump in to NI as a ‘new, improved’ unionist party? Do you think they have any interest in you squalid little bigotries? You know them so badly, it’s quite sad………….

    The Tories have been in NI for years, you just wouldnt know it given their electoral success so far

    And, as Terry says, the democratic choice in F/ST is nationalist. Your obsession with trying to replace the choice of the majority with a minority candidate is interesting………….

    WHy? Many constituencies right across the UK have MPs elected by a minority of votes.

  • Elvis Parker

    Sometimes so called ‘unionists’ in NI are so parochial they drive you mad. Note Turgon about the Conservatives:
    ‘they do not care that much for issues which many unionists would regard as highly important.’
    If you mean the Conservatives do not think the the pinnacle of political achievement is to have one more Ulster Prod elected to a Parliament of 650 MPs you’d be dead right.
    The Conservative vision is of an inclusive Union of England, Scotland, Wales and NI in which people vote Conservative to help get the UK including Fermanagh out of the mess Labour has left us.
    Turgon’s post is reminiscent of the recent babble from Sammy Wilson in the News Letter:

    ‘Mr Wilson said: “Unionism is currently represented by 10 MPs in the House of Commons. That figure could and should be 12. Both Fermanagh and South Tyrone and South Belfast can be won for unionism through closer cooperation.’

    Unionism is not represented by 10 MPs – all Conservative, Labour and Liberal MPs are Pro Union and before anyone gets on their high horse with regard to the relative support of particualr parties for the union of GB and NI the Conservative Party is unequivocally Pro Union.

    Contrast the Conservative objective (and that of their allies in the UUP) they want a Conservative and Unionist MAJORITY in the Commons – the DUP want a dozen Ulster Prods to float around and prostitute themselves to the highest bidder if the opportunity arises.

    Sammy Wilson you can strip off all you like and beat your naked chest but your are no unionist

  • ??

    Contrast the Conservative objective (and that of their allies in the UUP) they want a Conservative and Unionist MAJORITY in the Commons -….

    that really worked for Unionists last time, the AIA and secret talks with the provos…yeah cant wait

  • Glencoppagagh

    There is a compelling reason for getting rid of Gildernew in that she is an abstentionist who nevertheless abuses her position as MP to collect public funds for party use.
    If the nationalist electors of the constituency do not want to be represented at Westminster, they shoud simply not vote and allow those who wish to be to have a voice.
    If not, they should vote SDLP.
    Or is that too much like principled behaviour?
    If the DUP put up Arlene Foster to simply squat in the seat, they deserve no support either.

  • William

    It should never be forgotten that Gildernew stole the election when she won by 53 votes….her party boot-boy bullys intimidated election workers to keep a number of polling booths open after the 10pm….two, I recall didn’t close until around 10.35pm.

    She then consolidated and built her support, winning by over 4,000 at the subsequent election, if I recall correctly.

    However, why was the seat lost in the first place? The answer to that is because of the DUP, who selected Maurice Morrow to contest the seat against the chosen UUP candidate James Cooper. Morrow then threw in the towel, fearing he would get the blame if the seat was lost to the Shinners, so he gets a well meaning, but misguided victim of the Enniskillen bomb, Jim Dixon to oppose Cooper and of course, the seat was won by the Shinner and IRA apologist Gildernew by that 53 vote margin.

    Likewise in South Belfast, the DUPes again opposed the UUP and the Stoopes walked off with the seat.

    Now that Wonderwoman Arlene is a local Councillor [or Counsellor as the Fermanagh DUPes spell it on their Kesh office window poster], will she be the preferred nomination for the next election? Will Jimmy Spratt want it to be his turn in South Belfast?

    I hate to give anything to the DUPes but if Unionism can win back two seats lost because of the power-hungry DUPes, then we should come to some arrangement that will ensure one Unionist candidate in each constituency.

  • The Original Sam Maguire

    “If the nationalist electors of the constituency do not want to be represented at Westminster, they shoud simply not vote and allow those who wish to be to have a voice.
    If not, they should vote SDLP.
    Or is that too much like principled behaviour? ”

    The problem with democracy my friend. Perhaps if the SDLP where slightly less inept then it might be a feasible option.

    If you don’t mind me asking, where did you get the name Glencoppagagh out of, it would be a neighbouring townland of my own.

  • There has in the past, and confirmed now in the present, been a language barrier between the Conservative Party and the Northern Ireland electorate. That is something the UUP need to address with Owen Paterson first and foremost.

    Secondly the Conservative Party must come to terms with the failure of the NI Conservatives and recognise what were the obstacles to their greater electoral success.

    It is all well and good (and to be applauded) that the Conservatives now wish to take Northern Ireland seriously and what to get involved through the Ulster Unionists and start to mould an electoral force for the future. What, yet again, the Conservatives are missing (as Turgon has rightly stated) is unionist sensibilities. F&ST;and South Belfast are not important in the sense of having ‘prod unionists’ – far from it. They are important because they are the manifestations of what happens when unionism as a whole cannot get its act together ‘for the greater good’.

    Either the UUP-Conservative relationship develops on solid foundations or it will hit a wall at the very outset and never recover. And let’s face it, for the UUP membership to be 100% on board with any deal Sir Reg will have the UUP in the driving seat and a bail out option if things go wrong. I would be expecting a ‘quarantine period’ where both parties can have some plausible denialability.

  • I flagged up Owen Paterson’s response to talk of electoral pacts last Thursday. It should be a greater priority. This is about creating pan-UK unionism, not striking a communal pact for two seats. It undermines the entire concept if some people are to be denied a vote for normal politics because they happen to live somewhere near the border.

  • Glencoppagagh

    Original Sam
    It depends on which one you’re referring to.

  • Ignore the priority sentence above. I started a thought and then got distracted mid way through.

  • Hehe

    “This episode also shows either that some Conservatives do not fully understand the nuances of Northern Ireland politics or that they do not care that much for issues which many unionists would regard as highly important.”

    Really? What nuances would that be – that the unionist sense of superiority dictates that the sectarian politics of tribal headcount should come before party politics and democracy every time?

  • Hehe,

    If you bring it down to base terms: the Conservatives do not know how to win elections in Northern Ireland.

    And then to lecture people on ‘sectarian politics’ when the UUP have sacrificed their own electoral sucess to normalise the state of politics within Northern Ireland should maybe highlight to you why peoples noses’ are being put out of joint over this issue.

  • fair_deal

    Chekov

    “This is about creating pan-UK unionism, not striking a communal pact for two seats.”

    Electoral pacts can be in the interest of pan-UK Unionism. they are not mutually exclusive.

    William

    “However, why was the seat lost in the first place?”

    You miss out the part were the DUP offered to support a UUP candidate that wasn’t Cooper.

    “Likewise in South Belfast, the DUPes again opposed the UUP and the Stoopes walked off with the seat.”

    First you are linking two different elections 2001 and 2005. Second the DUP offered a one for one trade which the UUP refused. Thirdly the DUP outpolled the UUP in south Belfast in 2005 so it was the UUP running that handed it to the SDLP. Fourth the DUP candidate managed to get the endorsement of the outgoing MP unlike the UUP candidate.

    “I hate to give anything to the DUPes”

    Nice to see you are so focused on Unionism’s real opponents.

  • elvis Parker

    ‘who nevertheless abuses her position as MP to collect public funds for party use’
    Interesting point re Gildernew – and another good reason to vote Tory as only a Tory administration will remove this anomaly. Stopping the funds to ALL SF funds.
    So again a ‘pact’ is shown to be a nonsense idea

  • “Electoral pacts can be in the interest of pan-UK Unionism. they are not mutually exclusive.”

    Not when they undermine the very basis on which that pan-UK unionism is being built. I wonder what unionist reaction would be if an electoral pact in FST / SB were countered by the SDLP withdrawing in the former for example! Denying unionists the opportunity to vote for their chosen candidate is not a means by which to strengthen the Union.

  • elvis Parker

    ‘Stopping the funds to ALL SF funds’ sorry that should read stopping the funds to all SF MPs ie stopping the funding that Blair conceded to them

  • fair_deal

    “Not when they undermine the very basis on which that pan-UK unionism is being built.”

    First it is unclear what if any pan-UK Unionism is being built. Second Pan UK Unionism doesn’t benefit from having more not less representatives? Third if there is an assumption that more people are out there willing to vote Pan UK Unionist who is to say that they will be turned off by a pact? Voters do understand the practicality of politics as well as the ideology. Fourth there will be 16 other constituencies were Pan Uk Unionism can give as good as it gets, 17 more than last time (progress surely). Fifth does Pan UK Unionism not seek to arrest the growth of nationalism in each and every part of the Union? For example would Pan Uk Unionism reject the notion of similar arrangements if they became necessary to counter the SNP? Sixth the difficulty is not all for one part, plenty of DUP voters and left-wing UUP voters won’t be over-joyed about being asked to vote for a Tory.

    “I wonder what unionist reaction would be if an electoral pact in FST / SB were countered by the SDLP withdrawing in the former for example!”

    Besides it not doing McDonnell any great favours in south Belfast that is an irrelevance to what Unionism in all its forms and varieties does. Worry about the things that are under your own control and influence and try to shape them to your best advantage, always start with the strategy not the counter-strategy. The SDLP and SF are free to do as they wish for their best electoral advantage.

  • “First it is unclear what if any pan-UK Unionism is being built.”

    There is a very real possibility that a pan-UK Conservative and Unionist movement will be built. I know you prefer to cover only the negative stories as regards this, but developments are still imminent and the Tories are still keen.

    “Second Pan UK Unionism doesn’t benefit from having more not less representatives?”

    If its basis is to give people the choice of voting for a UK wide party and if that choice is denied some people, it is undermining its own arguments and therefore it visits damage upon its cause.

    “Third if there is an assumption that more people are out there willing to vote Pan UK Unionist who is to say that they will be turned off by a pact?”

    Whether people are ‘turned on’ by a pact or not, denying them the choice to vote for a UK wide party does not increase their options.

    “Voters do understand the practicality of politics as well as the ideology.”

    And therefore they are quite able to determine which out of a range of unionist candidates they should vote for. Practically, to forge a unionist movement which seeks to emphasise its non-sectarian credentials, to seek to promote the Union on the basis of inclusivity, then to strike a deal along little more than community lines, is not a tenable option.

    “Fourth there will be 16 other constituencies were Pan Uk Unionism can give as good as it gets, 17 more than last time (progress surely).”

    The basis of any deal will be giving everyone in the UK the chance to vote for a pan-UK party. Denying anyone the opportunity is not an option.

    “Fifth does Pan UK Unionism not seek to arrest the growth of nationalism in each and every part of the Union? For example would Pan Uk Unionism reject the notion of similar arrangements if they became necessary to counter the SNP?”

    A pan-UK unionist movement should seek to promote the Union on its merits and being seen to strike community pacts would undermine its argument.

    “Sixth the difficulty is not all for one part, plenty of DUP voters and left-wing UUP voters won’t be over-joyed about being asked to vote for a Tory.”

    Then they shouldn’t be corralled into doing so either. Maybe the DUP should align with the Labour Party.
    .
    “Besides it not doing McDonnell any great favours in south Belfast that is an irrelevance to what Unionism in all its forms and varieties does. Worry about the things that are under your own control and influence and try to shape them to your best advantage, always start with the strategy not the counter-strategy. The SDLP and SF are free to do as they wish for their best electoral advantage.”

    Never mind its lamentable effect on Northern Ireland as a whole then. Work out the strategy and to hell with the consequences.

  • Tory

    Those who say there would be a cost to not agreeing a pact are absolutely correct. Yes, I did not mistype – they are absolutely correct.

    However, there are times when principled politicians must say: “I am going to stick to my principles. They may damage my own interests in the short run, but I am here to do what is right.”

    This is one such time.

  • fair_deal

    “I know you prefer to cover only the negative stories as regards this”

    I cover what gets to the public domain.

    “If its basis is to give people the choice of voting for a UK wide party and if that choice is denied some people, it is undermining its own arguments and therefore it visits damage upon its cause.”

    Voters understand the practicality of politics. It is not a death blow.

    “Whether people are ‘turned on’ by a pact or not, denying them the choice to vote for a UK wide party does not increase their options. ”

    17 more constituencies get the option than before.

    “A pan-UK unionist movement should seek to promote the Union on its merits and being seen to strike community pacts would undermine its argument.”

    An grandiose statement to avoid answering a straighforward question. Again “Fifth does Pan UK Unionism not seek to arrest the growth of nationalism in each and every part of the Union? would Pan Uk Unionism reject the notion of similar arrangements if they became necessary to counter the SNP?”

    I never asked for a “community” pact nor could such an arrangement in Scotland be presented as such.

    “Never mind its lamentable effect on Northern Ireland as a whole then. Work out the strategy and to hell with the consequences.”

    I have heard some strange apopcalyptic visions in my time but claiming more Unionist representatives (including ‘Pan-Uk’ Unionists) would send us to hell is the most entertaining in a while.

  • “Voters understand the practicality of politics. It is not a death blow.”

    You do not launch a radical new idea by undermining it at its outset.

    “17 more constituencies get the option than before.”

    All constituencies must get the option. That is the point.

    “An grandiose statement to avoid answering a straighforward question. Again “Fifth does Pan UK Unionism not seek to arrest the growth of nationalism in each and every part of the Union? would Pan Uk Unionism reject the notion of similar arrangements if they became necessary to counter the SNP?””

    It is not avoidance. If defeating nationalism in two seats means undermining your own arguments, of course it should not be a priority. Counter factual scenarios are irrelevant to the issue at hand.

    “I have heard some strange apopcalyptic visions in my time but claiming more Unionist representatives (including ‘Pan-Uk’ Unionists) would send us to hell is the most entertaining in a while.”

    I’m referring to the divisive impact that the SDLP striking a deal with SF would cause, as you well know.

  • Greenflag

    Pan UK Unionism or is it panic Unionism .
    The various unionist parties in NI from the DUP to UUP to AP to UKIP to TUV are like a shower of bald men fighting over a comb.

    Roll on repartition !

  • fair_deal

    Chekov

    “You do not launch a radical new idea”

    As it is yet to be confirmed we can’t be sure what it is. Previously the UUP and Tories had a strong relationship so it is neither new nor radical.

    There also seems to be an implication in your comments that you cannot be a pan UK Unionist and be in Labour or the Lib Dems.

    “It is not avoidance.”

    I consider not being willing to answer two questions on two occasions avoidance.

    “Counter factual scenarios are irrelevant to the issue at hand.”

    Unless of course it is what the SDLP and SF may or may not do e.g. I’m referring to the divisive impact that the SDLP striking a deal with SF would cause, as you well know.

  • “As it is yet to be confirmed we can’t be sure what it is. Previously the UUP and Tories had a strong relationship so it is neither new nor radical.”

    We can be sure of the ideas which fuelled talks to begin with. The two leaders have already outlined their thinking on this quite clearly.

    “There also seems to be an implication in your comments that you cannot be a pan UK Unionist and be in Labour or the Lib Dems.”

    There is no such implication, but neither of those parties is actually attempting to stand throughout the UK as the Conservatives are committed to doing. If they did so, I would applaud their initiative.

    “I consider not being willing to answer two questions on two occasions avoidance.”

    I’ve made my stance and my priorities perfectly clear.

    “Unless of course it is what the SDLP and SF may or may not do e.g. I’m referring to the divisive impact that the SDLP striking a deal with SF would cause, as you well know.”

    The SDLP / SF scenario could be directly precipitated by the deal you’re justifying. It is not some abstract, ‘what if’ situation.

  • fair_deal

    “We can be sure of the ideas which fuelled talks to begin with. The two leaders have already outlined their thinking on this quite clearly.”

    That is surely worth a Paxmaesque yes 😉

    “There is no such implication, but neither of those parties is actually attempting to stand throughout the UK as the Conservatives are committed to doing.”

    Yes there is. The UUP/Tory link-up is to be kernel of the “pan-Uk unionist movement”. Labour, Lib Dems etc are all excluded from that arrangement. The Lib Dems already have a relationship with the Alliance party.

    Also I did not say Labour and Lib Dem parties, I said that the implication was you couldn’t “be in Labour or the Lib Dems”. There are certainly supporters of Labour running here including at least one cabinet member.

    “I’ve made my stance and my priorities perfectly clear.”

    Three times is not a charm in this case.

    “The SDLP / SF scenario could be directly precipitated by the deal you’re justifying. It is not some abstract, ‘what if’ situation.”

    “scenario could be ” v ” ‘what if’ situation” Nope no difference there.

    Also making a pact is a “what if” situation as no pact has been made.

    Growth in support for the SNP putting a significant number of Westminster seats within their grasp under FPTP is “abstract”? I suggest you take some time to look at electoral maths and polling.

    So “counter-factuals” “what if” “could” are only acceptable when they are your “counter-factuals” “what if” “could”.

  • “That is surely worth a Paxmaesque yes ;)”

    There is a document which explicitly lays down the fundamentals on which UUP / Conservative talks were built, n’est-ce pas? Therefore we can ascertain the essential basis on which any deal would be predicated? Or if everything’s still too up in the air for you we can resume our discussion next week. 😉

    “Yes there is. The UUP/Tory link-up is to be kernel of the “pan-Uk unionist movement”. Labour, Lib Dems etc are all excluded from that arrangement. The Lib Dems already have a relationship with the Alliance party.”

    If the UUP/Tory link up is the only serious unionist movement which is forged across the UK, then it is fair to see it as the kernel of a ‘pan-UK unionist movement’. If it is unionist, if it is across the whole of the UK. Labour and Lib Dems are at liberty to forge alternative movements. I would welcome this. The Lib Dems / Alliance relationship is not formalised in the manner that the Tories envisage. Could be down to their Conservative leaning voters!

    “Also I did not say Labour and Lib Dem parties, I said that the implication was you couldn’t “be in Labour or the Lib Dems”. There are certainly supporters of Labour running here including at least one cabinet member.”

    There are no attempts from either Labour or Lib Dems to stand in Northern Ireland, or for Northern Irish MPs to assume their whips, as far as I am aware.

    “Also making a pact is a “what if” situation as no pact has been made.”

    A pact is being suggested in a very serious fashion by at least one party. That puts it on a more concrete basis than your suggestion.

    “Growth in support for the SNP putting a significant number of Westminster seats within their grasp under FPTP is “abstract”? I suggest you take some time to look at electoral maths and polling.”

    That is not the scenario you suggested. You suggested a scenario in which unionist pacts are discussed in Scotland to keep out the SNP. I’d like to know which party is seriously suggesting such a pact?

    “So “counter-factuals” “what if” “could” are only acceptable when they are your “counter-factuals” “what if” “could””

    If there are concrete attempts to affect those ‘counter factuals’ they are no longer ‘counter factuals’.

  • fair_deal

    “There is a document which explicitly lays down the fundamentals on which UUP / Conservative talks were built, n’est-ce pas? Therefore we can ascertain the essential basis on which any deal would be predicated?”

    This was a statement yes. It lays down the public fundamentals 😉

    “Or if everything’s still too up in the air for you we can resume our discussion next week.”

    Happy to do so. BTW for all the fun I have been able to have at the mishandling of it all by the UUP etc I’m not an opponent to the idea. The UUP needed to get its own distinct brand and a link with the Tories had more potential than trying to out liberal the Alliance party. I had been meaning to do a thread on it but never got the time.

    “There are no attempts from either Labour or Lib Dems to stand in Northern Ireland”

    Again trying to ignore my emphasis of “in” by taking about the full organisation. I don’t see how the cause of Unionism is helped by exclusion of like-minded individuals.

    “to forge alternative movements”

    So they wouldn’t be pan UK Unionist but “alternative” movements?

    “You suggested a scenario in which unionist pacts are discussed in Scotland to keep out the SNP.”

    I wasn’t suggesting a Scottish pact for the sake of it but electoral advantage of Unionism in its electoral battle with Nationalism. Neither do I suggest a pact here for the sake of it but restricted to two seats.

    It doesn’t have to be suggested by a party for me to raise the question in a slugger thread or for you to avoid answering the questions on four occasions. It is an option plain to anyone who can count.

    “A pact is being suggested in a very serious fashion by at least one party. ”

    It still remains a “what if” as no one has agreed to it whether one or a dozen parties make the suggestion.

    As I said before “scenario could be “ v “ ‘what if’ situation” Nope no difference there.

  • pangur

    Re conservative/unionist activities in F/ST. I have to agree that with a clear nationalist majority in the area attempts to engineer a unionist victory seem undemocratic and a bit like canute and the waves. Perhaps Turgon should consider more constructive approaches to NI politics – he seems to be aware that they are needed even if he is reluctant to acually articulate them.

  • ?/

    I have to agree that with a clear nationalist majority in the area attempts to engineer a unionist victory seem undemocratic and a bit like canute and the waves………..

    its called politics

  • kensei

    ??

    its called politics

    Do you think Nationalists are incapable of playing that game too? Such a transparently undemocratic move would trigger a reaction and huge pressure on the SDLP to pull out. Demographics are still trending against Unionism in FST, at best you’d betaking it on borrowed time.

    I heard once that a better way to play that game was to develop policies and candidates with wider appeal.

  • Trending as a fucking verb! Do you actually converse in management speak or do you keep it all for Slugger?

  • *’Trend’ as a fucking verb.

  • Ian

    Fair Deal:

    ““However, why was the [FST] seat lost in the first place?”

    You miss out the part were the DUP offered to support a UUP candidate that wasn’t Cooper.”

    And why did the DUP make that offer? Because of the supposed point of principle that unionists in FST should have a choice of an ANTI-AGREEMENT candidate for whom to vote.

    Surely the same principle still applies? So even if the DUP and UUP agreed a candidate then surely Allister’s TUV should put forward an anti-agreement unionist candidate, and would expect the DUP’s support in doing so?

  • kensei

    Chekov

    Trending as a fucking verb! Do you actually converse in management speak or do you keep it all for Slugger?

    Look how much I care:

  • Ian

    Elvis Parker:

    “‘Stopping the funds to ALL SF funds’ sorry that should read stopping the funds to all SF MPs ie stopping the funding that Blair conceded to them”

    Didn’t the late Robin Cook MP famously deconstruct that myth, and point out that parliamentary allowances to Sinn Fein MPs actually began under the Tories (Thatcher, I think) and was only stopped (albeit temporarily, pending IRA decommissioning) by the Blair government?

  • Elvis Parker

    Eh no. It used to be you only got allowances if you turned up and did the job. Blair deliberately set up a new fund as a sweetner for SF.
    That fund will stop if the Tories win the next GE

  • Ian

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/1716836.stm

    “Sinn Fein MPs had rights to Commons services until 1997, when then Speaker Betty Boothroyd barred access for the first time to those not taking the oath – a decision endorsed by her successor.”