Money for Sinn Fein will go under a Tory administration…

Just in from Tory NI spokesman Owen Paterson:

“Should the Conservatives win a majority at the next election, one of their first priorities would be to restore the integrity of Parliament. I think that it is inconceivable that incoming Conservative MPs would vote to continue paying millions of pounds of public money to elected members who do not take their seats.

Update: Guardian now have the full statement here

,

  • Seceder

    Now thats a policy worth voting for!

    And what about MPs who only attend part-time or rarely at all, a pro rata salary or a pro rata expenses account?

    Now if the tories extend this idea I see somethingworth talking about.

  • padraic

    Yes, “[i]it is inconceivable that incoming Conservative MPs would vote to continue paying millions of pounds of public money to elected members who do not take their seats[/i]”. However, will Labour, Lib Dem, SDLP and the Nats do the same? Doubtful. If the Conservatives win the next election it will not be anything near a landslide victory.

  • alan56

    Clearly another deliberate indication to unionists that a vote for the UUP/Tory alliance will get things done…..

  • fin

    mmmh Mick possibly there is more to Owens press release than you’ve posted, but, I can’t see anywhere in this that money for SF will go, can you point it out to me?

    Furthermore I’m guessing as the post starts with a speech bubble that its a direct paste from the PR, so can I say well done on the world exclusive because that quote exists nowhere else on the web apart from Slugger.

    In short Mick I think I can hear the sound of Owens footsteps disappearin into the distance.

    So lets put our money where our mouths are what are the odds to a call to tory HQ or my local tory MP been met with confused silence.

    Can you forward his press release to me I’d like to take it up with the tory party and my local MP. Happy to post in full their replies

  • picador

    Perhaps if they removed the obligation to swear an Oath of Allegiance to the British crown Sinn Féin would take up their seats.

    The Oath of Allegiance is an anachronism which discriminates against republicans – English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish alike. It is a complete nonsense and should be removed or made optional.

  • padraic

    Picador – why should the British state remove an oath to its sovereign? There might be a case for arguing that it should be made optional but I’d be very confident that if a referendum was held on the issue in Britain that a majority would vote to continue with the status quo.

    Nevertheless, SF have every right to stand for election to the British parliament and to abstain from taking their seats if elected – even if the whole process doesn’t do their ‘true Irish republican’ credentials much good serving only, as it does, to legitimise the exercise of British authority in Ireland.

  • George

    fin,
    it’s quoted in the Guardian with SF specifically referenced:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/apr/08/sinn-fein-mps-expenses-conservatives

  • Brian Walker

    I would bet that if/when the time comes, the Conservatives would withdraw only the second homes allowance under the present system. Better still, a new payments and allowances system will have been devised over the next couple of years. This is likely to reduce the allowances component significantly and gradually but not proportionally increase the salary. SF would then be left only with offices and a staff payment. Under such a scheme, Patterson’s pledge could be fulfilled with minimum disruption to relations with SF. However much Cameron may wish to court the unionist vote, I can’t see him picking a major quarrel with Sinn Fein.

  • Big Bird

    Mick,

    A lot of repeated focus and fresh threads on an old story about SF. Why is that?

  • Frustrated Democrat

    I understand that has been Conservative policy for sometime, it is just that it hasn’t been reported in any detail.

    SF will face a choice turn up and fully carry out their jobs or lose their salary and expenses.

  • This kind of statement from the Tories plays into SF hands. They’ll be laughing their ways to increasing majorities if that’s the best the Tories can do. I hold no brief for SF but this only plays well in some isolated UUP holdouts and in some corners of the British Home Counties.

    SF stand on an abstentionist ticket – so if the Tories really wanted to put the party to the test they should stand candidates in constituencies held by SF MPs and take them on directly on this point. I wonder when we’ll see Owen Patterson on the canvas on the Falls Road or Lenadoon?

  • George

    I really don’t see this one as being anything other than counterproductive if hitting SF is the objective.

    More interestingly, I can see this Conservative Party plan of wooing Irish nationalists is really coming along apace.

    This really does look like the dawn of a new era for Northern Ireland if the Conservatives come to power.

    They must be queuing up in the Bogside as I type to become part of Cameron’s pluralist dream.

    Even Irish Republicans are now expected to take an oath to QE II in Cameron’s new and understanding Northern Ireland.

  • Mick Fealty

    Big Bird,

    Nice to hear from you. It’s been a while.

    Three, as I count it. Pete’s flagging up the British press story last night. Then mine, quoting P.ie’s angle questioning the precise use of the two houses in question. And then this with the Tories threatening action in the next parliament. I call that tightly following the development of a story.

    And I think you’ll find there’s a few vigorous threads on the DUP expenses story too.

  • Mick Fealty

    Drop me a line fin…

  • fin

    George, thanks for that, I read the G and never saw that, Mick, no need to email you it looks like its out there, personally very surprised at the tories, opportunist at best

  • fin

    although congrats Mick you did beat Henry and the G by 30 minutes in breaking the story

  • I really don’t see this one as being anything other than counterproductive if hitting SF is the objective

    George,

    I really don’t think the Conservatives were counting on much of a swing from those who voted Sinn Fein at the last election to be perfectly honest and as was pointed out on another thread the revelation of how much SF are screwing out of the “Brits” will probably have played very well amongst their traditional support-base anyway.

    But claiming money/expenses on false pretenses is, however you want to look at it, an attack on the integrity of our nation’s parliament. If by trying to limit that abuse persuades some, as you claim, that the Tories are not not sincere in their “pluralism”, then I think dictionaries really need to be consulted as to the true definition of the word.

  • picador

    padraic,

    Different situation I know but Batasuna (before they were banned) would take the seats they won in the Cortes without conceding Spanish sovereignty over the Basque country.

    Other than the Oath of Allegiance there is no ideological barrier to SF taking their seats in Westminster. Given that Irish republicans have been getting elected to that parliament for more than ninety years now you would think that the political parties in Britain would find some kind of formula that would enable republicans to take up their seats.

  • Comrade Stalin

    This kind of statement from the Tories plays into SF hands. They’ll be laughing their ways to increasing majorities if that’s the best the Tories can do.

    I don’t think the Tories care about SF’s increased majorities. This issue plays across the UK and it’s about the perceived value of people receiving expenses money while not taking their seats.

    Expenses have only been paid to SF within the past few years after furious lobbying by that party to get the rules changed. There’s no reason why the rules can’t be changed again.

  • fin

    CS I wonder if Slugger has started the story. every google search only says that Owen said it was unacceptable but since Mick posted his comment, Henry posted his on the G and than the BBC posted a story, the BBC story seems to be cobbled together, Henrys story quotes Owen as saying millions of pounds, every other story that doesn’t claim him saying SF would be banned say 100s of 1000s and was released earlier. Mick posted a link to a story posted 30 minutes after his post.

    I dunno Mick have you a press release from the tories you can post to clear up the confusion

  • George

    oneill,
    But claiming money/expenses on false pretenses is, however you want to look at it, an attack on the integrity of our nation’s parliament. If by trying to limit that abuse persuades some, as you claim, that the Tories are not not sincere in their “pluralism”, then I think dictionaries really need to be consulted as to the true definition of the word.

    What has that got to do with anything? There was no mention of claiming money/expenses on false pretenses in the article I read, it was all about Sinn Féin accepting their seats.

    This is what Paterson had to say:

    “I think that it is inconceivable that incoming Conservative MPs would vote to continue paying millions of pounds of public money to elected members who do not take their seats.”

    He continued:

    “The answer to this is for Sinn Féin to take their seats at Westminster. The referendums in 1998 legitimised the current political arrangements.”

    The Conservatives seem to think that the freedom to be British or Irish as enshrined in the GFA seems to mean Irish Republicans taking an oath to QE II.

  • John K Lund / Lllamedos / Suchard

    Owen has as usual in his own precise matter hit the mood of the taxpaying electorate. I this afternoon visited the new Conservatives and Unionists well manned HQ. It was a hub of real combined and purposeful teamwork, they appear to me to be really getting this show on the road under David Cameron’s and Reg Empey,s leadership this team is really gelling and I expect it to deliver great things. By the way Concubbar you can expect Conservative and Unionist canvassing on the Falls Road its allowed is it not in a truly democratic society? These are my personal views.

  • padraic

    Post 22 ought to have been preceded with “there now follows a party political broadcast on behalf of Ulster Conservatives and Unionists”.

    Aye, we’ll be seeing poncey Tory leafleters on the Falls tomorrow followed by some canvassing by the Young Unionists throughout the Brandywell and Bogside over the Easter weekend. Of course they’re allowed John K Lund / Lllamedos / Suchard – it’s just that they won’t bother in a million years. That would just be a waste of membership money.

  • Comrade Stalin

    fin, that all seems rather paranoid, but not impossible.

    George, I have a suspicion that SF still would not take their seats even if the oath was reworked to be republican-friendly. Their supporters consistently argue that there is no benefit to them taking their seats. This is certainly true if HMG is willing to pay them the same expenses that they would get if they did. Their salaries would be cut anyway as sitting MLAs (every single SF MP double-jobs) who are also sitting MPs get a steep salary reduction.

    Despite what I said above, I am in devil’s advocate mode; I am broadly sympathetic to SF’s position. Public representatives in Northern Ireland do the majority of their work in their constituency, not in Westminster. That’s true of the politicians who do take their seats – they’re seldom there. They fix things and sort things out for people, and outside of that, spend their time among the local decision makers who now reside in Stormont.

    And while SF do not take their seats, it’s more than conceivable that they have some business in and around the Westminster village that does not actually involve sitting in the Chamber. Their seat entitles them to secretarial and other support services. They are within their rights to use it.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    padraic

    I am sure the Conservatives and Unionists will put themselves up across the whole of Northern Ireland and as a party where all are welcome will campaign professionally across all areas of the 18 constituencies.

  • padraic

    Of course they’ll put themselves up in every constituency. But don’t kid yourself that they’re actually going to actively campaign in nationalist areas – even if, as every democrat will argue, they are perfectly entitled to do

    I happen live in such an area and apart from the almost ceaseless bombardment of Sinn Féin propaganda through my letterbox (and on the doorstep at election time) and the odd leaflet from the SDLP and dissidents I’ve never heard so much as a peep from Alliance, never mind the unionists. I don’t believe that this is going to change come the next election.

  • picador

    Josef,

    I have a suspicion that SF still would not take their seats even if the oath was reworked to be republican-friendly.

    Only one way to find out. Remove the obligation on Irish MPs to swear the oath.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Padraic.

    I hope you are surprised this time…..whatever happens I am sure by the time the ballot comes you will know the CU’s are taking part and exactly what they stand for.

  • padraic

    Er, I already do know that the CUs are taking and part and understand a large part of their programme and ideology because I follow Irish and British politics quite closely. My point is that Reg and Dave will keep the real effort involved in the blood, sweat and tears of active canvassing and electoral capaigning to areas in which they actually have a realistic chance of capturing a seat or of making significant progress i.e. largely east of the Bann. You are delusional if you actually believe that Tory boys will be pounding the streets of Newry and Strabane at the next election.

  • Mick Fealty

    Fin, here’s the presser that came into me at 5pm:

    Paterson: Sinn Fein must take their seats at Westminster

    Commenting on the news that Sinn Féin MPs are claiming Parliamentary expenses despite refusing to take their seats in Westminster, Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Owen Paterson, said:

    “The answer to this is for Sinn Féin to take their seats at Westminster. In private discussions with senior figures in Sinn Féin, I have urged them to play a full role as MPs in order that they can properly represent their constituents.

    “Should the Conservatives win a majority at the next election, one of their first priorities would be to restore the integrity of Parliament. I think that it is inconceivable that incoming Conservative MPs would vote to continue paying millions of pounds of public money to elected members who do not take their seats.

    “I will continue to discuss this with Sinn Féin over the coming months.”

    ENDS

  • John K Lund et al
    I look forward to seeing that sight. I hope the party will have a credible policy re the Irish language and its promotion…..if it is after all a pluralist agenda you’re pursuing.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Concubhar

    I understand they have a policy towards the Irish Language and Ulster Scots. I think that they are fully in favour of both languages being taught and promoted by those who are interested in them.

    However at this time I suspect there are greater priorities for the public purse such as the economy and jobs.

  • kensei

    “Should the Conservatives win a majority at the next election, one of their first priorities would be to restore the integrity of Parliament. I think that it is inconceivable that incoming Conservative MPs would vote to continue paying millions of pounds of public money to elected members who do not take their seats.

    “I will continue to discuss this with Sinn Féin over the coming months.”

    Of course, they have absolutely no reason to vote in it, unless a vote is actually brought forward…..?

    And what exactly is there for them to discuss with SF?

  • No doubt there are many items higher on the priority list of the public purse than the Irish language as far as the UUP/Conservatives are concerned. But the New Force needs to realise that the Irish Language can be a catalyst for redevelopment and job creation – and not just jobs for jobs sakes – and get away from this idea they have that it’s somehow divorced from the economy. The Gaeltacht Quarter project in west Belfast has a huge potential to attract tourists, to generate income and to create jobs – that’s surely something the NF could give practical support to…..

  • Paul

    The Oath of Allegiance is just a smokescreen.

    Sinn Fein MPs refuse to take their seats because they view Westminster as a foreign parliament. The Oath of Allegiance is neither here nor there as far as Sinn Fein are concerned.

  • circles

    True Paul – but that is only because in the eyes of Irish republicans the British Parliament actually is a foreign parliament.
    This announcement though is just pure populism, aimed at the middle class tory unionist voter in the gallery who is most likely perplexed and vexed by the fact that republicans can even be elected. If you don’t have seat in this particular target group better not even listen – and anyway, no matter out of what side of the mouth this was said, its very unlikeley to actually happen.

    The notion that the Tories can be expected to restore integrity to anything though is slightly ridiculous.

  • Paul

    Lets be honest here nIreland MP’s become relevant in Westminister once every 17 years for about an hour and a half ….. if they are lucky

  • John K Lund / Lllamedos / Suchard

    There was an old Jew called Ikey and he desperately wanted to win the National Lottery he beseeched Jehovah every night on his knees to help him win the jackpot. After many months one night there was a flash of lightning over his head and a voice said to him “Ikey I want to help you, I really do but you have got to meet at least halfway Ikey; firstly you must buy a ticket and then I can try to help you”. Nothing ventured nothing gained but if you do not try you will never win. You guys want to realise you are not the only show in town we are now living in a democracy.
    Of course Owen will continue to speak and liase with Sein Fein that is only democratic but it would help their cause if they took their seats and played a full role in the nation’s affairs they are after all registered voters and tax payers.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Concubhar

    If there is a sound economic case to be made and jobs to be had then I am sure it will find plenty of support in the CU’s.

    However as a cultural thing only, it would be diffcult to see money being allocated from more pressing areas in the current situation.

    Culture is very laudable but bread on the table is even more so regardless of background.

  • bob wilson

    Let us remember that the majority of people in the seats held by Sinn Fein did not vote Sinn Fein – they deserve better than MPs who fail to represent their constituents in debates of public spending, banking, taxes and pensions.
    They certainly deserve better than having no representation while having to suffer seeing their taxation siphoned off into party political accounts