The DUP appear to have taken issue with criticism of Peter Robinson’s further clarification of what his party intends to do about multiple mandates. But what other parties do, or don’t do, isn’t the point. It’s about how what Robinson is saying now compares with what he, and his party, were saying before. Here’s Peter Robinson’s latest position as reported in the Belfast Telegraph
So we want to get to a position where we have one man, one job, as you describe it. But we have to do that in a careful way because if we were to pull all the expertise out of the Assembly in one go, I think politics would suffer as a result. We therefore decided and indicated there would be two tranches effectively. We did not put any figures on the numbers that would go at each time, but it was clear that once the next election is out of the way, there would be no-one standing for both Westminster and the Assembly.
That is still our position and I suppose if I am going to be completely open and honest as a political party, we have to take into consideration the developments of the Assembly and our ability to remove people from here to go to Westminster. But we also had to consider the development of the party at a constituency level and the extent to which the party organisation is able to provide us with the additional personalities to stand, and how our electorate would be affected.
It will be phased out as I had previously indicated. It will be phased out in the two tranches, but that anybody who remains after the Westminster election in both the Assembly and Westminster will not take their Assembly salary, so there will be no pecuniary advantage to the individual of being in the two institutions. They will doing it for the sake of devolution or their party organisation.
There are people I know who want to do one job, but their constituency associations are saying to them we need you for an additional term so were resolving those issues within the party and attempting to reduce those figures as quickly as we can. But they will be down to zero by the following Westminster election.
At first glance, it compares reasonably favourably to what he has said before. Provided that he meets the first implied deadline of the next Assembly election, in 2011, for an end to those dual mandates – “once the next election is out of the way, there would be no-one standing for both Westminster and the Assembly.”
If, however, that deadline is actually the following Westminster election, which could be as late as 2015, as he also implies – “they will be down to zero by the following Westminster election” – not so much.
I think he’s suggesting that the first tranche to decide which mandate they will seek will do so at the next Westminster election, with the second tranche doing so at the Assembly election in 2011. But further clarification on that would be welcome.
Here’s what Peter Robinson said in May
It is simply not possible to sustain and fully perform multiple roles whether they involve other elected positions or indeed interests outside Parliament. While at least for a time serving in more than one elected body could be justified on the basis of political stability, no such justification exists for those who seek to pursue interests outside of the House of Commons which are unrelated to the work of an elected representative. It would clearly be the height of hypocrisy to have one rule for one and not the other. The workload is too great and there are not enough hours in the day to do multiple jobs without health and other consequences.
It is not for me to decide whether colleagues choose Westminster or the Assembly. We will each announce our own decisions in the coming months after we consult with our constituency associations.
It’s worth noting that salaries
are not were not an issue. But have they all announced their decisions yet?
And, although Peter Robinson didn’t, a party spokesman was reported in May setting a timescale for the end of the DUP’s multiple mandates – “Over a three-year window, the DUP will phase out multiple mandates.”
As I said, that compares favourably with a 2011 deadline, but less so with one of 2015.