What Hatfield House tells us about Cameron’s suitability to be PM

It says something about how interested the Westminster Village is in Northern Ireland that more hasn’t been made of Owen Patterson’s predicament.

Further to Eamonn’s scoop here a few weeks ago, if Nicholas Watt, writing in The Guardian, is correct that “the Tories did hold secret talks to establish a pan-unionist force, contrary to denials by the party” (i.e. they did hold the talks, they said that they didn’t, and it turns out that they lied), it should surely be something of a warning for the British electorate about how far The Conservatives are happy to return to their form of the 1990s in placing the interests of their party above the need to promote the public interest in their policies towards Northern Ireland.John Major’s government was prepared to allow itself to be held to ransom by Unionists then, paying a messy price by stalling progress in Northern Ireland. The worry this time, I suppose, is that a weakened and fragmented Unionism may deprive Nationalists of fewer Westminster seats than they could have done before Irisgate. Worrying, especially with the polls showing a strong possibility of a hung parliament.

But it is telling that anyone in Cameron’s party would have allowed this consideration to prod them into exploratory talks about such an objectively sectarian outcome.

In this context, were the Tories currently in power, there is no way that Cameron would have been able to play the role that Gordon Brown and Shaun Woodward have played. It may seem a minor point with so much else going on in Northern Ireland, but elsewhere, such irresponsibility is telling. Or it should be, if everyone weren’t so bored with Groundhog Day.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    Surely the most interesting thing about Michael Cricks interview with Owen Patterson (no Id never heard of either a month ago) was the white board behind him with the 12 Norn Iron seats mapped out and the letters “TUV” added.
    Now it is of course to be expected that the shadow Norn Iron man would take a close interest in all this but the white board in his office looked a bit……..well…….indiscrete.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Maybe Westminister village isnt interested because there is very little to be interested in appart from alot of hype, much of it generated on here I would guess.
    The only story that might get them interested is the Conservative fear a hung parliment enough to cosy up to the DUP just in case, which opinion polls published since have indicated is possible.

  • If no deal is made expect the Labour party to start highlighting the ‘irresponsible’ role of the Bullingdon Boys Club (Tories), Mandy was already giving it some last week on the politics show.

  • Drumlins Rock

    I’m forming the view that Mandy in front of the cameras dosnt do Labour any favours, harks back too much to the whole spin etc. that people want rid off.

  • Why wait for ‘deal or no deal’ MU?

    It’s a spectacularly irresponsible thing for the Tories to do. It shows what their concerns are in Northern Ireland:

    1. Will there be enough Unionists of any stripe who will follow form and back the Tories

    2. Er…..

    3. That’s it.

  • Panic, these ones like it up em.

    Drumlins Rock said

    ” I’m forming the view that Mandy in front of the cameras dosnt do Labour any favours, ”

    One thing about Mandy though he is not afraid to insert the boot or the stilleto when given the opportunity.

    Owen Patersons careless liasons certainly presented the opportunity and fair dues Mandy let fly with the boot and the stilleto.

  • Cynic2

    More flogging a dead horse.

    The Guardian’s on line story was markedly different from that in the print version? Why?

    Since last week Government minders have been trying to talk this up. How terrible it is that Paterson had secret talks with the UPP and DUP. They were naive / foolish / meddling / broke the bipartisan relationship

    Paterson says they were to try and bolster support for a deal – give the DUP confidence that, despite politcal differences, Unionism wanted a deal and wanted to go forward in partnership with Nationalists.

    How terrible squawked Alistair McDonnell – why didn’t they speak to us at the same time. It was naked sectarianism he screamed before wrapping himself in a flag and almost shouting ‘vote for me’. Of course he forgot to disclose that he’s in the middle of a Leadership Campaign for what passes as leadership in the SDLP and is very vulnerable in his seat in South Belfast and so has a strong personal interest in keeping Unionist differences as wide as possible.

    Then what do we hear today. BBC have reported that Gordon himself (no less) was on the phone today having secret talks with the UPP to try and bolster support for a deal. And the SDLP weren’t present. And we don’t know what was said. Shock! Horror!

    So what’s the difference apart from the fact that the Conservatives acted to try and head off a crisis before it developed while Brown dithered, slithered and procrastinated until it was probably too late.

    It actually says something about the Westminster Village myopia and the Lobby that more attention hasn’t focused on why we drifted into this mess. It has been 3 yars since St Andrews and what has the Government actually done to avoid us ending up where we are now? How many nights has the absentee landlord in the NIO actually spent here over the last 3 years?

    Would that he had spent half as many hours trying to stop this mess developing rather than in London stopping political daggers being plunged into his boss’s political back.

  • The most surprising thing about Mandelson’s re-emergence over the last couple of years is how he’s gone from being someone that the Labour leadership believe they need but the rank-and-file detest, to being someone that the rank-and-file regard as a healthy reminder of the good old days when Labour could effortlessly wipe the floor with the Tories.

    Whatever else you think about him, he’s good for Labour’s morale.

  • Pete Baker

    “he’s good for Labour’s morale”

    Internally, perhaps.

    But he’s not good for their [public] image.

  • Greenflag

    paul evans

    ‘It’s a spectacularly irresponsible thing for the Tories to do. It shows what their concerns are in Northern Ireland:’

    Same old 4 F’s treatment as per usual .

    1) Find them
    2) Fool them
    3) F**k em
    4) Forget them

    1920 & 1974 come again . Unionists will never learn .

  • I can’t see any differences in my version of The Guardian in print and the online version that I linked to Cynic.

    Why are *you* switching from the story about a pan-Unionist electoral pact that includes the Tories to a much narrower conversation about what it would take to get to mollify the parties that could obstruct the P&J deal?

    Do you really not see that an exclusive electoral pact fostered by a prospective UK governing party featuring a united front of the DUP and the UUP (however it was envisaged) with the express aim of maximising the unionist vote at the expense of the nationalist one is not playing with fire?

    That Cameron’s team didn’t expressly rule the idea out at first sight says so much about how little they grasp / care about Northern Ireland.

  • Cynic2

    Putting Party interests before those of Northern Ireland?

    You have a short memory Paul. Didn’t Labour buy the DUP’s votes on 42 day detention? And weren’t there secret talks in a big house to arrange it? And didn’t that sordid little deal keep them in power?

    And aren’t the only people manipulating this situation for political advantage Labour and their acolytes? Paterson attempts to bolder confidence in the Unionists and persuade the DUP to do the deal and suddenly he’s cast as the anti-christ. Indeed we see a sudden influx of interest from journalists and bloggers who normally rarely darken our humble door…. and surprisingly they all seem to be parroting the same lines to take. I wonder where those came from?

    Let’s get real – what has this all really got to do with Cameron’s leadership? Nothing. Its just a shallow attempt by Brown and his supporters to wring the maximum political advantage out of Northern Ireland and avoid the blame for the disaster that seems to be unfolding. Will we see a Newsnight Special Report on that? Unlikely! A Guardian feature? Not a hope. What about a few lines in the New Statesman – no (but then perhaps not so much of a loss as no-one reads it anyway)

    Nah, Paul, we are sick of people importing their own agendas and prejudices (political and otherwise). We have enough of our own thank and are perfectly capable of manufacturing new ones on demand – it’s one of the things we do well.

  • Paul,

    “Why wait for ‘deal or no deal’ MU?”

    “highlighting the ‘irresponsible’ role of the Bullingdon Boys Club (Tories)” will probably only have traction in the event of things falling apart and Labour and Tory bickering over Northern Ireland whilst a deal is still a work in progress is not likely to help the deal’s prospects.

  • I don’t disagree with the analysis, but doesn’t it just boil down to votes? Labour hasn’t needed NI votes (except, as Cynic2 points out, on 42 day) so it could afford to be Olympian about things. The elderly among us remember that it was Gerry Fitt who brought down the 1974-79 Labour government because he couldn’t put up with that minority regime’s reliance on unionist votes for survival. Although the Tories may regard themselves as ideological brothers of the UUP, under the right circumstances, any party will do virtually any deal to stay in power.

  • Cynic2

    Paul

    I am not switching anything. But what we had last week was simple. When the story broke there were sudden allegations that the talks had a completely different basis. Then we get an orchestrated attack by the PMs press people at Hillsborough on the wicked Tories and how terrible it was that they had spoken to the DUP in secret. Shocking! All this backs up by McDonnell (who takes the Labour whip).

    And why all this sudden interest? Is it just Brown seeking to use this to attack Cameron? Perhaps.

    Or perhaps the real story here is how, yet again, all that Brown touches turns to dross. No one doubts his financial commitment – the DUP and SF have wrung him dry of cash, most it totally unneeded – but aside from that what have he and Woodward actually done to avoid this situation. We are three years post St Andrews and in this mess – largely of our own making but why the hell wasn’t this resolved sooner and why were so many loose ends left in the original talks.

    Its a shambles. Brown knows it and he doesn’t want it exposed.

  • Cynic2

    and not the Bullingdon Club yet again?

    Didn’t Gordon say that he was abandoning that class warfare nonsense? You can take a man out of the Staggers but you clearly cannot take the Staggers out of him.

  • Cynic,

    You’re changing the subject again. That Robinson – as FM – used his support over 42 days (something that I suspect went with the grain for him) to allegedly wring concessions on behalf of Northern Ireland (that he could, undoubtedly take credit for) is a very different matter.

    My main point – if you’d read that far before commenting – is that Cameron would simply not be in a position to come to Northern Ireland and broker a deal between Unionists and Nationalists if he were in an aggressive electoral pact against nationalists.

    The UUP/Tory pact could hide under the fig leaf that they are two centre-right parties with a shared heritage – like Labour and the SDLP. But to bring the DUP into this deal would strike at one of the cornerstones of the peace process. It would expressly put the British government on one side of an argument that it is supposed to referee.

    Any deal Brown did with Robinson over 42 days would not have any comparable effect. Is there perhaps a third red herring you’d like to introduce into your argument?

  • Greenflag

    ‘The elderly among us remember that it was Gerry Fitt who brought down the 1974-79 Labour government because he couldn’t put up with that minority regime’s reliance on unionist votes for survival’

    It was’nt Gerry Fitt. It was in fact Frank Maguire -Nationalist MP for Fermanagh who did not pitch up in the Common’s vote for Callaghan’s vote of confidence . Yes it was an Irish nationalist who cleared the decks for maggie’s ARRIVAL

  • georgieleigh

    Paul Evans is absolutely correct. Although there were signs that some lonely figure in the Tories realised what was going on, and they are now squeezing for a deal.

    Worse case scenario for Tories:

    Win a tight election and dependent on DUP.
    Resurgent dissidents murdering PSNI.
    SF (largest party)refusing to enter Stormont until their demands are met.
    Irish Govt. telling them to do one.
    Labour asking why they abandoned bi-partisanship.
    Scots Nats breathing down their neck.

    They should think about this before inviting Prod supremacists around for tea and cakes.

  • iluvni

    Anything that sees a UK Government abandoning this neutral broker bullshit will be good for Northern Ireland. If the Tories in power can develop a better working relationship with those who value the Union, even better. If Republicans cant handle that, tough shit. Let them work on a strategy which has always been alien to them…by demonstrating they do indeed ‘cherish’ their Unionist fellow countrymen. Coercing, demonising and terrorising us hasnt brought their unity any closer. Adams knows where he can stick his staging posts.

  • On ancient history: both Maguire and Fitt attended parliament on that day in March 1979, and both abstained in the no confidence vote. Maguire was a rare fixture at Westminster, so his vote wasn’t relied upon. He didn’t speak in the debate, but, as he put it explaining his attendance, “abstained in person”. Fitt had previously taken the Labour whip, so his abstention was an actual loss to the government. He spoke in person during the no confidence debate and expressly cited the deals Labour cut with the unionists among grounds for his decision. I listened to his speech on the radio (this in the days before televised parliament). There were frantic scenes behind the Speaker’s chair as Labour figures unavailingly begged Fitt to change his mind. The no confidence motion was carried by one vote – arguably, Fitt’s vote – and Labour fell.

  • Erasmus

    “At the time I did not know, as I know now, that I was a mere puppet in a political game. I was in earnest. I was not playing with politics – What a fool I was! I was only a puppet. So also was Ulster, and so was Ireland, in the political game that was to get the Conservative Party back into power.” – Edward Carson.

  • Paul Evans

    Why are *you* switching from the story about a pan-Unionist electoral pact that includes the Tories to a much narrower conversation about what it would take to get to mollify the parties that could obstruct the P&J deal?

    My understanding if the article is that Watt is alleging it went well beyond a pan-Unionist electoral pact but would involve a merger of the UUP and DUP to form one party with the Conservatives? Also:

    But it is telling that anyone in Cameron’s party would have allowed this consideration to prod them into exploratory talks about such an objectively sectarian outcome.

    Again according to the article, Paterson outlined 3 principles that they (the UUP and DUP) would have to commit to:

    1. Non-sectarianism
    2. Making the assembly and executive work
    3. Upholding power-sharing with nationalists.

    If pigs had been indeed flying past the windows of Hatfield House at that point and Robinson and Co had signed up the DUP to those principles, would that have been an “objectively sectarian outcome” in your book? Or perhaps potentially inconvenient for your Labour Party?

    There were no flying porkers at Hatfield instead there were most probably sniggering Duppers flying back to Belfast. Paterson’s biggest crime in all this was his naivety.

  • understanding if the article

    should read: “understanding of the article”

  • Comrade Stalin

    Cynic:

    You have a short memory Paul. Didn’t Labour buy the DUP’s votes on 42 day detention? And weren’t there secret talks in a big house to arrange it?

    It’s not the same. This kind of horse trading goes on in Westminster all the time. Bit distasteful but it’s part of life.

    It’s different when it’s done prior to an election and, apparently, with a view to some kind of long term strategic partnership. I’m not sure I can think of a precedent for some kind of “join the whip to get us in power” pact at any time in the past in the UK, aside from the full blown merger that was the SDP/Liberal thing.

    Cameron is stupid for interfering with events over here in the way that he did, but moreover he must be really desperate if he envisages life as a Prime Minister limping through for five years always looking over his shoulder at the (very difficult to please) Unionists who could pull the plug on him at any moment. A scenario like that would be bad for the UK, not just NI.

    And didn’t that sordid little deal keep them in power?

    You reckon all those Labour MPs would have (a) wanted a vote for no confidence and (b) all voted against the government ? Do you seriously think that ?

  • Impartial Reporter

    There are (loud) whispers this morning about another “secret” meeting. Could three well known moderate members of the DUP be discussing a possible move to the UUP or Conservatives?

    If this happens, how many more will flee the self-torpedoed DUP?

    A future for Unionism where the UUP and TUV are the main Unionist parties looms.

  • slappymcgroundout

    “The Conservatives are happy to return to their form of the 1990s in placing the interests of their party above the need to promote the public interest in their policies towards Northern Ireland.”

    The party exists to serve its interests. And if the structure of government means pandering to a fringe local interest or two in order to obtain ruling majority, well, hard to blame party for making a move that the rules of the game require party to make. For your consolation, at least you don’t have:

    Allende 36.2
    Alessandri 34.9
    Tomic 27.8

    That’s just over 60% who voted for someone other than Allende. Some instead blame the CIA.

  • Garza

    Well you can forget about a DUP-UUP pact, the UUP voted it down last night. The DUP are on their own.

  • oneill,

    “Paterson’s biggest crime in all this was his naivety.”

    As per Erasmus’s excellent quote, it may well be a calculated gamble, under direct instruction from Cameron, to enhance the possibility of the Bullingdon Boys Club (Tories) becoming the government.

  • Garza,

    is there not still the possibilty that the DUP will ‘unilaterally’ stand aside in FST and SB on the the basis of the (deniable) understanding of reciprocation in the Assembly elections?

    Only possible of course if the DUP sign up to a deal with SF/IRA.

  • Cynic2

    Paul

    “an aggressive electoral pact against nationalists”

    What aggressive pact? Where is the evidence of any pact with the DUP? You are in fantasy land.

    And as for the allegation that it was only wrong because it was done in advance of an election, wasn’t the 42 day deal also done in advance of an election- the one that Brown dithered and dithered over until he finally bottled out?

    Indeed, from your posts, pacts or agreements are only aggressive or wrong when they don’t involve the Labour Party or Nationalists. Its OK for Brown to dole out support for £500m investments using public money to secure votes in the House of Commons in a secret pact with the DUP but beyond the pale for Paterson to try to persuade the DUP that if they do the deal other Unionists will support them.

    As a Conservative and Unionist Party it is clear that, for example, a Unionist MP might actually end up holding a Government post under Cameron. How shocking – that an elected representative from the UK should play a role in the Government of the UK. Perfidious Albion! All those notions of democracy and representative government are going to their heads.

    As for your point on Cameron PM as an honest broker…. frankly that rests on the premise that Blair and Brown have been honest brokers Utter nonsense. At every stage they have acted in English self interest. The analysis was simple. They had won the war against PIRA but PIRA was still in denial and could be dangerous. To stop bombs in the UK they wanted to bind SF into politics and government so everything possible was done to clear the path for them.

    To be fair the policy worked, but was it neutral to sweep under the carpet and ignore the continued murder of drug dealers in Belfast, the huge cigarette robbery in Belfast docks, Stormontgate, the Northern Bank Robbery, the McCartney Murder and the Quinn murder? Was it neutral to act at every stage as a persuader of unionism. Was it neutral for the Irish Government at the same time to act as a representative and guarantor for Nationalism? Was it neutral to destroy the middle ground support for Trimble and then hope for a deal between the two extremes?

    Now I happen to believe that the Government of the UK should act fairly openly and honestly in dealing with the concerns of ALL its citizens be they nationalist or unionist and should be balanced and fair in its decisions. Do you disagree with that? And before you answer, please recognise that that neutrality will certainly be seen by Nationalists as a significant shift towards the unionists position!

    As for red herrings, I am afraid they are not of my making. You started this entire thread off with one quoting from a Guardian article that itself can be traced back to the attacks on the Conservatives from the PMs press team at Hillsborough last week. Now why am I suspicious that this has the appearance of a campaign?

    PS you might also tell our ‘neutral’ PM that its not good negotiating practice during talks with the DUP to have his press people outside briefing the media that Conservatives meeting the DUP showed how they were aligning themselves with right wing lunatics whom no sane politician should touch with a barge pole.

    PPS Does that count as cynically using NI’s problems for electoral advantage nationally? Is that the real issue you keep trying to avoid talking about

  • John Joe

    Slappy – previously (1958) the same Allesandri had been elected president with 31.6% of the vote. With no overall majority – under that Chilean constitution – Congress selected the president.

    I still think everyone is overstating the interest that the Conservatives, as a party, have in NI politics. They get the (very) odd soundbite for the media in GB and they move on. Hence the absence of any recognisably coherent Tory policy towards the UUP, DUP, pan-unionist platforms etc.

    Regardless of any pre-election agreements, I would expect a reasonably uncomfortable time, for everyone, if the Tories win, since the ministers will be inexperienced and will make mistakes. And I don’t just mean that nationalists will be uncomfortable – it might seem like wish fulfilment for some in the UUP and DUP but as I said above – I don’t see any genuine interest in NI from the Tories and don’t expect they would spare any genuine talent for their proconsular services here.

  • Cynic2
  • Cynic2

    1. Are you saying that there has never been any discussion of a pact involving the DUP and the UUP brokered by the Tories? If you are, I’m not sure we’re on the same planet

    2. The 42 day deal is not relevant for the reasons I outlined earlier.

    3. I’m not a unionist or a nationalist – don’t know what makes you think I’m the latter. The progress of the last couple of decades has been based upon the understanding that the rest of the UK has no strategic or selfish self-interest. One of the bits of glue that has held things together has been the sure knowledge that the British would just love to leave the keys back with the Building Society (and the Irish wouldn’t be rushing to pick them up). You illustrate a lack of understanding of this when you say….

    “…..the premise that Blair and Brown have been honest brokers [is?] Utter nonsense. At every stage they have acted in English self interest.”

    What else would you imagine that they would do?

    To take sides, against that backdrop is so manifestly, eye-wateringly stupid that it’s hard to see how they even considered it.

    4. You say … “You started this entire thread off with one quoting from a Guardian article that itself can be traced back to the attacks on the Conservatives from the PMs press team at Hillsborough last week.”

    Nonsense. What I did was to pick up this line: “the Tories did hold secret talks to establish a pan-unionist force, contrary to denials by the party”

    I think that this has been widely acknowledged now. It’s not a figment of Labour’s imagination. If that assertion is true, then they did something that they know to be stupid and dishonourable, they got caught, they denied it and it turns out that they were fibbing.

    5. Just keeping a log of your red herrings: You say …”As a Conservative and Unionist Party it is clear that, for example, a Unionist MP might actually end up holding a Government post under Cameron. How shocking – that an elected representative from the UK should play a role in the Government of the UK. Perfidious Albion! All those notions of democracy and representative government are going to their heads.”

    Have I said, anywhere, that there is a problem with the Tories being in alliance with a sub-section of either the Nationalist or Unionist polity? The problem is when they discuss forming a pact with pretty-well the whole Unionist polity.

    As for this line….. “Now I happen to believe that the Government of the UK should act fairly openly and honestly in dealing with the concerns of ALL its citizens be they nationalist or unionist and should be balanced and fair in its decisions. Do you disagree with that? And before you answer, please recognise that that neutrality will certainly be seen by Nationalists as a significant shift towards the unionists position!”

    …. well, it’s a view, I suppose.

  • trinners

    Paul:

    I don’t think you shoud take what Mandelson, Brown and the Guardian say at face value.

  • Trinners: It’s simple. Is it true that….

    “the Tories did hold secret talks to establish a pan-unionist force, contrary to denials by the party”

    I’ve not quoted Mandelson or Brown. I noticed that – at the end of that Guardian piece – they quoted Mandelson, but I was already fit to be tied by the time I got there.

  • IJP

    Paul

    Cameron would simply not be in a position to come to Northern Ireland and broker a deal between Unionists and Nationalists if he were in an aggressive electoral pact against nationalists.

    Correct. Which is one of many reasons why he’s not!

  • IJP

    PS: the Tories did hold secret talks to establish a pan-unionist force

    Nonsense. Such phrasing is deliberately disingenuous.

    It’s a matter of public record that two years ago the Conservatives recommended a new centre-right party in NI aligned to the Conservatives in GB based on the ideals of shared future, power-sharing devolution and functioning institutions (among other similar). Some would view this as similar to the CSU-CDU relationship in Germany.

    Such a party, which would be “pro-union” (think Alliance, plus admitting it publicly!) but whose ideals would be based primarily on seeking to make devolution work, supporting power-sharing, and treating NI as a single community (all of which the Conservative Party already does), remains one of several options for the future and is a matter of public discourse.

    For the immediacy, the position is clear that the Conservative Party and Ulster Unionist Party will jointly endorse candidates committed to power-sharing in NI and influence at every level across the UK. Even for those not on the centre-right, any attempt to replace populist politics with responsible politics should be welcomed.

  • Ian,

    Are you saying, then, that Owen Patterson was not involved in *any* discussions at which the UUP, in partnership with the Conseratives would form an electoral pact and / or any kind of merger to maximise their joint votes?

    And while I can buy the idea of the UUP as a party that has an appeal beyond sectarian boundaries, the DUP expressly has none.

    My point is that it is somewhat amazing that the idea would even be considered by a party that aspires to government in the UK.

  • Cynic2

    Where is the evidence it was, aside from Downing St spin and the musings of the Guardian grazing off that.

    My point remains. Labour have a cheek to accuse the Tories of breaking a bi partisan approach. Paterson intervened at a point when it looked like the deal could implode. He moved to reassure the DUP that if they did a deal it would command widespread support across unionism.

    This was spun by Brown’s smear operation into an attack on Cameron for breaking the bipartisan approach and being not fit for Government. As this story began to die (even after Crick on Newsnight) it was suddenly refreshed by the Guardian then you picked it up again here. Spin spin spin with Mandy in the background cranking the handle, whether you know it or not

    This is a clear line of self referring journalists and commentators all tracking back to No 10’s smear machine.

    You say you were fit to be tied when you read it. Fair enough. But I would have thought that someone of your experience Paul might recognise when its useful to check the facts first and let his blood pressure soar afterwards.

    What it seems to boil down to is that you congenitally refuse to accept the word of Tories but believe as Holy Writ what comes from Brown and the Prince of Darkness.

  • Panic, these ones like it up em.

    Political Parties that want to win elections usually like to portray themselves as trustworthy at least until after the election.

    The view of the Tories over their dodgy meetings is that they are untrustworthy before the election.

    Is this a new policy from David Cameron. Novel but not wise.

  • trinners

    Paul:

    Fair enough. But I view the Guardian and Mandy as the same mouthpiece.

    By putting pressure on the DUP to accept P&J is that not promoting non-secular politics?

    That, you must admit, was the primary reason behind Hatfield.

  • Impartial Reporter

    Another little addition to my ongoing works of fiction.

    The scene – Grand halls of Westminster, home of democracy.

    Members of a right wing party, currently under pressure due to a range of bad publicity and lack of direction make an approach to the Shadow Secretary of State to discuss their concerns that “unless the next government can address key failings within unionism in the region the future of the Assembly is non-existent’.

    The SSOS, wanting to ensure that he inherits a (no matter how badly) functioning region, agrees to invite members of the two main ‘pro-union’ parties to discuss policing and justice, building the regions role within the wider union and (perhaps, just perhaps) whether the more extreme party is prepared to take a more moderate stance in relation to ‘shared future’ and ‘full inclusion’.

    The meeting takes place and the SSOS is concerned that his ‘partner party’ send a ‘b-team’ of delegates whilst the right wing party send the big guns.

    Unfortunately the meeting offers up nothing new, the SSOS gets the feeling that the party that made the original approach to him to host the meeting are acting very stand-offish and are not prepared to discuss any of the forward moving concepts the SSOS has placed on the agenda.

    The meeting ends, all parties go home and then ‘somehow’ an ‘adapted’ version of the meeting is leaked, causing damage and distress to the SSOS and his ‘partner’ party in the region.

    Suddenly the media are focussing on the ‘sectarian head count conspiricy’ and forget all about the issues that, only days before were putting the ‘right wing’ leader and his party in a right old bind.

    Thankfully such things could never happen in the real world……………….

  • Cynic2,

    You are really saying that the story that the DUP discussed an electoral pact with the UUP is purely Labour spin and that there is no other substance to it?

    Trinners: I think that both Mandy and the hacks at the Guardian would go into some sort of coma if you were to say that in either of their earshots.

  • Impartial Reporter,

    A plausible scenario with one snag. It assumes that anyone in Westminster really gives two ****s or pays any attention. My very first sentence in this post illustrates, I think, that shafting the Tories on this issue would be a fools errand.

    If they did what it appears that they have done, it’s a real shame that it won’t lose them votes. But it really won’t.

    On that basis, I can’t see that anyone would go to the trouble.

  • Cynic2

    Paul

    Now you have shifted ground from the Conservatives talking to the DUP to the UUP talking to them?

    What I am saying quite clearly is that, despite the spin and Alistair McDonnell’s apoplexy, all the evidence points to:-

    1 no desire by the Conservatives to mix with an unreconstructed DUP

    2 no desire by the UUP to enter into any pact

    Having said that and given Alistair’s gutter flag trailing exercise this week, I do so wish that they could come up with a pact in South Belfast and hoik him out of Westminster.

  • No shift.

    I’m talking about the Conservatives, currently in an electoral pact with the UUP, hosting a discussion about a further electoral pact with the DUP.

    If there is ‘no evidence’ of them wanting to mix with an ‘unreconstructed’ (new word here!) DUP, then why meet them to discuss an electoral pact?

    The UUP denying that they are going to enter into a pact now is not evidence of them not exploring it in talks with the DUP.

    For a story that is so baseless, it’s caused all kinds of ructions, hasn’t it? There are plenty of senior people in the UUP who don’t share your reading of this Cynic2.

  • Cynic2

    “why meet them to discuss an electoral pact?”

    ….we are back again to your assumption that they did

    ” it’s caused all kinds of ructions” – absolutely , but that doesn’t make it true. In the past we had people here murdered on the basis of rumour. And my point still stands. This one was stoked up by Downing Street for party political purposes.

  • Impartial Reporter

    Paul. you missed the point of my latest fictional offering.

    The Right wing extremist party did not intend to sink the SSOS, they wanted to damage their local opponent, and turn attention away from their problems.

    To add an additional chapter to the story, having failed to cause the desired damage to the competition, they then leaked another meeting where the two local parties were invited to meet with a ‘religious’ organisation – a meeting that again had no outcome but could create enough friction between the local party and their new friend the SSOS to damage the fledgling partnership beyond repair.

    And it would have worked if it hadn’t have been for three members of the right wing party who felt that these things were wrong and tipped off the opposition.

    Do you think I could get a publishing house to give me an advance to develop this story line?

  • Greenflag

    paul evans ,

    ‘the view of the Tories over their dodgy meetings is that they are untrustworthy before the election.’

    Just wait till after the election if they scrape in:(

    A couple of more boo boos from the Cameroonians and the election will be a toss up .

  • Cynic2

    Bopo boos? So where’s the pact Yogi?

    Keep hoping Greenflag. The smack of firm Government is on its way!

  • Greenflag

    cynic2,

    We had the smack of firm government under Maggie and when all was said and done -the UK’s public sector % of GDP was back to where it was within a year of her forced retirement as it was when she came into power .

    A recent report on economic and social conditions in the UK show that not a whole lot has changed for a large section of the population despite Maggie’s handbag wielding routine and Mr Blair’s ‘Cool Brittania ‘

    The deep malaise in western capitalism is rooting deeper so don’t be too surprised if Mr Brown pulls a surprise return .

    I haven’t heard anything yet from the Cameroonians that would lead me to expect they could do much better . Have you ? Or is it just a desire for change for change’s sake ?

  • Cynic2

    Perhaps…who knows …..but this Government is dead intellectually and physically. A zombie government waiting to be put out of its misery

  • Impartial Reporter:

    Yep – both good scenarios. I see your point now. I’d try Michael Dobb’s publishers – they have a track record of buying that kind of thing 😉