Will DUP quit F-ST and South Belfast for UUP backing P&J deal..?

COULD the price of UUP support for a deal on devolved policing and justice powers – providing the DUP with both political cover and ‘community confidence’ – be a free run in Fermanagh-South Tyrone and South Belfast? Such a deal might well be in both parties’ interests – the UCUNFs get to stand in every NI constituency, as promised, while DUP withdrawal from the two key areas would help disguise a mauling at the polls. There’s also the possibility of a further deal on forming a unionist bloc in the Assembly to keep Sinn Fein off the First Minister’s seat. No wonder such a senior DUP delegation was at Lord Salisbury’s stately Hatfield House in Hertfordshire last weekend. DUP private polling must be worrying if they’re prepared to allow UCUNFers into the driving seat.

There are a lot of ‘what ifs’ in all this speculation, but Sir Reg must be rubbing his hands together after spending years in the doldrums. However, with such unionist unity shenanigans going on, one wonders if the UCUNFers will be able to credibly convince the public that they represent a new form of non-sectarian Conservative politics in Northern Ireland.

In the midst of everything, Owen Paterson met Acting First Minister Arlene yesterday. And the Irish Times reported that earlier a Tory spokesman said the purpose of the Hatfield House talks was to explore how “some of the political instabilities at Stormont” could be overcome. It was also, he added, “to avoid a situation in which we might potentially, should we win the election, inherit a collapsed Assembly and direct rule”.

“That is an entirely responsible role for a potential secretary of state, away from the glare of the media,” he added.

  • Dewi

    From the Telegraph link:
    “The TUV’s significant share of the unionist vote means a three-way split throws up the very real possibility that Sinn Fein could become the largest party at Stormont with Martin McGuinness as First Minister.

    And that is a situation that “no unionist is ready to accept” a senior unionist source said, admitting: “We have to be looking at closer co-operation between Unionist parties, particularly in Fermanagh/South Tyrone”.”

    Would any Unionists on here accept a SF First Minister ?

  • Sean Og

    a Tory spokesman said the purpose of the Hatfield House talks

    Why were they meeting in a pub on the Ormeau Road?

    Nothing surprises me any more.

  • Garza

    Dewi, I would accept a SF First Minister no problem. Doesn’t bother me in the least.

    The Deputy First Minister is a First Minister in all but name anyway.

    I think people online here and the unionist parties underestimate the maturity of the majority of the unionist electorate.

    Unionists want this crap sorted out so we can sort out the things that really matter, the economy, jobs, education etc etc.

  • Cynic2

    It was interesting to hear on BBC this morning that Owen Patterson was meeting McGuinness today as well. He actually sounded more like the Secretary of State here than Woodward does …. at least he gave the impresion of doing more to try and further the proccess.

    As for any arrangement arrived at between the UUP and DUP and Conservatives breaking some hallowed principle, the reality seems to be that this initiative came at a critical stage. The talks process was in crisis. The DUP were torpedoed by Irisgate. SF seemed to also be stoking that fire with journalists behind the scenes while upping their own demands.

    The shrewd or cynical might have concluded that the SF political calculation was simple – either the DUPs roll over on P&J and hope to rebuild before an Assembly eletion in 2011 or they face an imemdiate election in the teeth of a storm that might severely damage them and lead to a SF First Minister.

    Either of these scenarios would, of course, have created a mess out of which devolved Govermenet would have been set back perhaps 10 years. Whatever happens in the DUP / UUP / Conservative discussions the very fact that these have happened and are contiuning has potentially transformed the politcial calulation for everyone.

    On the Unionist side, there is now scope for the DUP to do a deal on P&J knowing that they can achieve majority support from all sides of the Unionst community even if some flat-earthers spin off to the TUV. On the SF side they now have to face the prospect that they may have overplayed their hand and driven unionism together to a point where eventually they might even ultimately face a unified Conservative and Unionist Party comprising the Conservatives, UUP and more moderate wing of the DUPs. That grouping would have a seat in UK Governement at National level, the potential to play a major part in UK politics (where SF dont take their seats) and an unassailable majority at Stormont. Free from fear of the TUV it could also have the strength and cojones to face down the TUV and make Government in partnership with nationalists really work.

    But wouldn’t that be such a bittersweet end to Gerry’s political career, one where the Unionists at UK level pull off what he failed to do on an all Ireland basis.

  • I would accept a Sinn Fein First Minister if they were democratically elected – not quite sure a mandatory coalition where all parties are in government fits that bill.

  • Would any Unionists on here accept a SF First Minister ?

    Dewi,

    I want the joke *parliament* at Stormont ultimately closed, who’s nominally head of it in the interim doesn’t bother me in the slightest.

  • Garza

    “It was interesting to hear on BBC this morning that Owen Patterson was meeting McGuinness today as well. He actually sounded more like the Secretary of State here than Woodward does …. at least he gave the impresion of doing more to try and further the proccess.”

    Cynic2, I too like Owen Patterson, he actually seems to give a damn about Northern Ireland and its progress, he also seems to love the gig. I couldn’t say the same about Woodward.

    Owen Patterson was out campaigning in the Craigavon by-election for example knocking on doors, handing out leaflets…. at a council election in NI!! Fair play to him.

  • Danny Boy

    Can we really expect a smart, mutually beneficial deal from the people who decided on the acronym UCUNF?

  • Dewi

    “want the joke *parliament* at Stormont ultimately closed, who’s nominally head of it in the interim doesn’t bother me in the slightest.”

    O’Neill – I always knew you were a Dublin direct rule man !!!

  • Dewi,

    Shifting the UK’s capital to Dublin?

    Might take a bit of persuading…but it would make me very happy indeed as a Unionist to see our fellow Irishmen back in the fold;)

  • Cynic2

    Perhaps the Brits could simply buy Ireland back. Probably for about €10 at the moment

  • FitzjamesHorse

    Regardless of a deal on Policing the DUP will get a fee run in FST and UUP in South Belfast.
    And a few other deals also.
    Tactically there has always been room for pacts. Sometimes it suits sometimes it doesnt suit.
    With double jobbers forced to make decisions, it would mean that some DUP MPs wont lose out. An a pact could reduce DUP from 9 to 6 or 7 without actually losing a MP.
    Likewise a pact could give UUP 3 or 4 seats. and not have Empey relying on Hermon who is semi detached.
    Nationalists and Unionists can always put up with losing a seat on occasions if there is a bigger tactical issue within the “family”.
    But 10-8 arithmetic was a wake up call. Certainly in South Belfast.
    Twenty five years ago it would have been a question of “keeping one of them….ya know the other sort like out”. Nowadays it can be respectable and say “pro union”.

  • FjH

    Regardless of a deal on Policing the DUP will get a fee run in FST and UUP in South Belfast.

    It was stated on Wednesday for umpteenth time:

    “We will be putting up 18 Conservative and Unionist candidates at the next election,”

  • Fighting every seat is ultimately a waste of time. It will be embarrassing to watch a UCUNF candidate win circa 300 votes in West Belfast. It’s also a waste of money.

    But to be honest, the UUP are in a position to royally fuck the DUP over, and they really should just do that. Forget all the nobel “all unionists together” rhetoric; there was little of that when, say UKUP and the DUP stormed out of the forum.

    Really, the UUP should ask for these two seats; but they should throw down a wealth of other demands, such as no DUP canidiades in Strangford and north down, and in a selfless pursuit of the anti double jobbing mantra, demand that the DUP doesn’t run Robbo, or Sammy, and if any other Dupper MPs fancy staying on then they need to resign from Stormont. And if not…. just go nuclear, give the DUP the trouncing of their life/lives.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    o’neill……for the umpteenth time I dont believe it. Sectarianism……oops I mean pro-union unity will trump principle every time.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    Conquistador,
    Clearly theres a time when one Party in the unionist (or indeed nationalist) family needs to give the other one a good kicking.
    There are other times when they need to stand just to halt the slide.
    And there are times when both need to consolidate or compromise with each other.

    The latter is the case in 2010.
    Incidently no matter what side of the political house we have all seen a seat slip by thru lack of unity (South Belfast in 2005 but also Mid Ulster in say the 1980s) ……yet I am a firm believer that all parties should stand in ALL seats……for example Alliance in say Newry-Armagh, UUP/DUP in West Belfast and SDLP/SF in East Belfast.
    Of course they have no actual hope of saving a deposit (a waste of money if you like) but I think its a courtesy to the voters.

  • Stephen Ferguson

    I’ve no problem with Marty as FM. If we accepted him as deputy or Minister for Education there isn’t really a difference in him having the big chair. Though it might take a while to explain to foreign media that it doesn’t now mean there are more nationalists in NI than Unionists and a Border Poll was just around the corner.

    As for the pact:

    There were many times since 1969 when Unionism would have benefited from having a single party. It was always Paisley and the DUP who blocked it.

    They then gain the status of the largest Unionist party (more to do with Trimble’s lack of internal UUP discipline than their own policies) and a pact is never mentioned.

    Fast forward to the realisation that lying to their electorate about going into government with Sinn Fein, dodgy financial dealings and moral hypocrisy is going to see them hammered at the polls and now suddenly they want to ‘Unite Unionism’.

    Reg Empey would do better waiting until 2011 after elections to the new super councils and the Assembly (if we dont have an election soon) when the UUP are once again the largest party and negotiate with the DUP from a position of strength.

    The DUP have peaked. It’s back down to reality for them in the next few years.

  • I always thought it was very kind of nationalists to give unionists such practical advice re standing in elections.

    I am a firm believer that all parties should stand in ALL seats

    Have you seen how many parties are registered in Northern Ireland? The ballot papers would be enormous.

  • someone

    I’m am an ordinary “small u” unionist.

    I do not have any problem with a SF First Minister.

    I am happy to have P&J devolved, and don’t care what party gets the job (a complete re-run of D’Hondt is fine by me).

    I am happy for an Irish Language Act (with the very important proviso that it is not expensive!).

    I do not like parades by the loyal orders personally but am happy for them to parade in any area where the majority of residents don’t mind.

    All in all I cannot for the life of me understand what the DUP’s problem is… Can we not just get on with it and deal with the important issues in politics like, eg. the economy!

    I think that my views largely reflect those of my friends and work colleagues too – any DUP/UUP reading this please take note and maybe tell your leaders?

  • danielmoran

    someone, msg 19 I can well believe that a lot of unionists who were one time DUP voters as well as those like yourself who can’t see what the DUP are trying to do. The trouble is the DUP tail has been wagging the DUP dog since that excuse for a leader P.Robinson took over. I think they must be looking at their private polling results and are scared to face down the knuckledragging campbell’s and mcCreas. Even Sammy wilson warned them the other day about their tactics, The DUP can see a mauling at the hands of the voters.

  • The DUP can see a mauling at the hands of the voters

    Hopefully the UUP can see that too, and resists any temptation to throw them a lifeline.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    Basically Fermanagh South Tyrone has not much changed that much since Brookeborough told us all that he wouldnt “have one about the place”.
    Or indeed not changed that much since the Poppy Day bomb in Enniskillen.
    Of course nobody is as openly sectarian. All much too polite.

  • Sammy Morse

    an unassailable majority at Stormont

    A merged UUP-DUP would be highly unlikely to have a majority at Stormont. Combined they have exactly half the seats – 54 – between them, and that’s before you factor in Jim Allister.

  • Sammy Morse

    someone

    I think that my views largely reflect those of my friends and work colleagues too – any DUP/UUP reading this please take note and maybe tell your leaders?

    If they don’t listen, remember you have the opportunity to tell them through the ballot box.

  • If they don’t listen, remember you have the opportunity to tell them through the ballot box

    Much in the same way the electorate tells the Alliance party it shouldn’t have any ministerial office.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    Conquistador,
    Any party which has pretensions of being “province wide” ie the DUP, UUP ,SF and SDLP should at least give people the opportunity to vote for them.
    The DUP or UUP can realistically only expect to draw support from about 57% of the Population so it is to their immense credit if they stand in say West Belfast.
    The SF and SDLP can realistically only draw support from 43%…..so als to their immense credit t stand in North Down.

    The AP have of course no pretensions on being the fifth province wide party…even though technically 100% of the population is “their target” Usual hypocrisy from them.

  • Reader

    Dewi: Would any Unionists on here accept a SF First Minister ?
    It wouldn’t bother me. Once the DUP settled on ‘FM from the largest party’, and since I hoped that the DUP would lose the No.1 spot in unionism, then a SF first minister was always on the cards during the transitional period at least. With 3 party unionism, it was all the more probable.
    I’m glad to see that the DUP’s fetish for topping the poll didn’t do them any good in the Euro elections. If only I could be sure they learned the right lesson!

  • granni trixie

    What about the theory that Sir Reg was lent on to link up with the Tories to secure a place in the Lords. Now if Robbo had to ‘leave’ the stage in NI politics sometime soon …wouldn’t he even more have this motivation?

  • Any party which has pretensions of being “province wide” ie the DUP, UUP ,SF and SDLP should at least give people the opportunity to vote for them.

    This is a recent notion, and (under the current 4/5 party system) was first practised in 1997 by the SDLP. To be honest I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume that every party will do what’s in the intrest of itself.

    It’s also worth noting that there are plenty of council deas that were left uncontested by a number of the main parties (eg. Downpatrick, Mourne, Victoria). Do the ‘regional’ parties not ‘owe’ it to their supporters to stand in every council election too?

  • Harry J

    why was reg not at the talks, is he being sidelined? this latest farce shows he is not in control of his own party

  • danielmoran

    KILLSALY MSG 5 I’ll say this slowly so you can take it in. THE…. VOTES….. ARE….. PLACED…… REGARDLESS…… OF THE ……MECHANISM…… FOR THE …….STRUCTURES ……IN THE ……RESULTING …….ASSEMBLY.
    THEREFORE THEY ARE DEMOCRATIC. GOT IT?.

  • danielmoran

    conquistador 21. alas, it doesn’t look good.

  • West Sider

    For all their talk about reaching out and being liberal and making the union a place for all, it’s all boiled down to letting sectarian thickos march through areas they aren’t wanted just to rile the Taigs.

    That’s the intellect behind unionist politics these days, and all days, and every one of the days in between from here to there, there being 1690.

    All the sweet words about moving forward and having non-sectarian professionals forging a new future for unionism by standing in those seats: all fucked.

    It’s Sammy Deadhead and his big belly and high Orange cholesterol, and poor heart, and pasty face, and put upon wife, and gay son, and loose daughter fancying the Taig in work, and all that hurt, and UVF killer on the posters, and on and on, far from the palace of Westminster, that’s what unionism is retreating to.

    And doff your cap to the party most likely to destroy your standard of living, the Tories.

    Aint it cool!

    Politics should be all about freedom, not money, or nationalism, or hurt, or violence.

    I know whose free and whose in thrall. Or are thralls.

    Have you figured it out yet – who’s who and what’s what?

  • FitzjamesHorse

    Re msg#4…..in an ideal world it would be nice if every council seat was contested and even nicer if voters turned out in council elections.

  • Reader

    West Sider: Politics should be all about freedom, not money, or nationalism, or hurt, or violence.
    Living in Western Europe in the 21st century, how might anyone conclude they weren’t free without reference to “nationalism”.
    For instance, going by what you have previously said about yourself, I live about 15 miles from you, and I reckon I am free. Are you?