The wee parties won’t weigh in the Westminster balance

Dewi will disagree but there’s an air of unreality about the Nat’s bargaining position. For one thing they’d have to do extraordinarily well and the Lib Dems really badly to hold the balance in a hung ( or as they prefer “ balanced” Parliament. For another, as my colleague Alan Trench analyses trenchantly ( sorry) in his authoritative blog Devolution Matters, there’s little to attract either the Conservatives or Labour about their terms. I will give Dewi one point. After comments in a post so far back I can’t find it about the leaders’ TV debates, Alex Salmond’s second idea of a fourth leader’s debate featuring the SNP and Plaid leaders along with the others, with devolution as a main theme, is a good one. But too late now! Meanwhile the whole Ucunf thing is on another planet.
What the Conservatives failed to realise is that what’s left of the UUP, like the DUP is essentially an Ulster first party, more like a nationalist party and not an integrationist one and never really was. Watchman’s critique is pretty sharp.

Alan Trench extrs
The key agreed demands are:
1. Fair funding for Wales and Scotland
2. Protecting local services and the most vulnerable
3. Action to help the green economy
4. Support for business growth
But there’s a distinct air of unreality about them….

… ‘fair funding’ is hugely difficult. It really means ‘no cuts’; but the effect of that is very different in each nation. Wales is, so far as we can tell, slightly under-funded compared with England; Scotland, significantly over-funded…

But this is not ‘fair’ funding, if what you mean is ‘fair to all people in the UK, regardless of where they live’. In the likely climate for public spending, calling for ‘no cuts’ is not very realistic either. Earlier SNP statements, such as Alex Salmond’s speech to the SNP party conference last October, that they would use their position in a hung Parliament to secure financial advantages for Scotland, were actually quite reasonable – what they were seeking were things that Scotland should have received had the finance system in fact worked properly. These demands aren’t like that.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London