Cameron’s difficulty; Alliance’s opportunity?

We should see the colour of the UCU-NF money locally by the end of January, but, in the meantime, Lord Ashcroft’s untaxed marginal millions are coming in for a bit of unwanted scrutiny. And yet, although there are some within the DUP who are looking to maximise their advantage in a hung parliament, the spreads are still giving the Tories a good 50 seat majority, even if it is moving downward. But Henry McDonald explores another possible scenario which would have the Alliance party coming up with the goods:

If Nick Clegg’s party was to secure anywhere between 40 to 50 seats in a tight race, it will be the Liberal Democrats that become king-makers – perhaps even junior partners in a coalition with Labour. Such an outcome is not outlandish given that Labour and the Lib Dems have ruled Scotland together during the first term of the Scottish Assembly.

And who are the bosom friends and ideological allies of the Liberal Democrats in Northern Ireland? Answer – the Alliance Party.

It could turn out to be one of the most amusing paradoxes of the 2010 Westminster election that the man with the greatest number of friends in a new UK government is the Alliance leader David Ford, because the closest relationship between parties in Northern Ireland and Britain over the last 40 years has been the Liberals and Alliance.

This scenario is unlikely to revolutionise the sectarian-dominated politics of Northern Ireland.

Still unlikely. But as we’ve seen with the DUP and it’s play over 42 days, even marginal influence can make a difference in the small plays that dominate Stormont politics. If I were in any of the other parties I would not start sweating just yet. Not unless the Tory marker begins to drop from their consistent 40% mark.

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  • Frustrated Democrat


    Whatever the outcome the CU’s will have a lot more than 40 or 50 friends in Westminster 300+.

    So don’t over egg DF’s importance in the unlikely event of a hung parliament

  • Mick Fealty

    Over egging? I thought I’d made it clear it was a curio, not really a live proposition. The only reason I blogged it was the amount of times the local parties tend to defer to appeal to the Westminster referee over the so called indigenous deal… If the most influential voice in the ear of Cameron or Brown is that of Nick Clegg, well they are not likely to be listening to either the UU/NI Tories or the DUP. Are they?

    See my review of the last ten years in today’s News Letter…

  • Fair Deal

    “Not unless the Tory marker begins to drop from their consistent 40% mark.”

    The pro-Labour bias in the electoral system means that being at 40% isn’t enough to deliver a majority for the Tories. If the stay at 40% it is the size of their lead over Labour that will be key. The reason big majorities had been predicted because of the lead rather than the Tories sealing the deal with the public.

  • Mick Fealty

    That’s true, but if they stay up there as Labour rises then I can only see the Lib Dems continuing to get squeezed where they are strong in Tory south and south west and make insufficient gains in the Labour north…

  • Fair Deal

    However, there is an unusual feature of our national polls and that is the strength of others. Labour doesn’t necessarily have to pick up its extra % points from the Lib Dems. Also Lib Dems poll ratings have consistently gone up during an election campaign rather than down.

  • Danny O’Connor

    UKIP might deny the Tories in a few of their marginals,I dont believe that the Tories are popular -it is that they are currently less unpopular than Labour.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Mick, lets play along and say their is a hung parliment and Nick jumps into bed with Dave, will the coalition extend to Alliance and the UUP at Stormont?
    For the political geeks amongst us the implications on what type of PR is introduced, if any will prove interesting.

  • Paul

    Mick the so called UCUNF project is fast becoming a public farce and making them all look a laughing stock.

  • Paul

    I would also like to add who on earth came up with the name UCUNF.? did they think it up when they were down the pub and had a few too many drinks thought about the(name) and wrote it on the back of a beer mat.LMAO what a complete farce it just gets better what with the UUPs good old fish and chips slogan and only descent people vote Unionist Unionist slogan you just couldnt make it up.LMAO

  • LabourNIman

    If Alliance move into a position of power we will see SF and DUP go all out to discredit them and sabotage everything they put their name to in the assembly.

    I’m looking forward to a good old scuffle, it will help the non-sectarian parties show what they are made off in up coming elections.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I’m not sure about this one.

    It’s true that Alliance enjoys a warm friendship with the Liberal Democrats; I’d wager a much better one than that between the UUP and the Tories.

    But I would rather see the party obtain influence by getting elected representation in Westminster or the assembly with a proper mandate, earned fair and square; not by hanging on the coat-tails of another party. To me, there is something inherently dishonest about that. That’s why many of us were never really that comfortable with Alderdice’s peerage. It just leaves the party open to accusations of patronage which are damaging in the longer run, IMO.

    I think it’s reasonable to assume that Alliance would provide consultancy in helping the Lib Dems formulate any specific Northern Ireland policy were they to end up in government. But the final decision, to me, would really be for the Lib Dems themselves, and they would have to act in a way that respects the mandates of all of the parties.

  • Frustrated Democrat


    You don’t seem to have grasped the situation.

    There is no such thing as the NI Conservatives there are only Conservatives who live in NI.

    Therefore Cameron will only be listening to his own party when he talks to the members in NI, not another party or even a friend of another party.