The DUP and a hung Parliament

Not sure if all can get this without subscription – but that’s the Economist’s take on the DUP and a hung parliament. Just in case I’ll paste below the fold:
Northern Ireland

Together we stand
What local politics have to gain from national elections

Friends in needHUNG parliaments are not everyone’s idea of a great outcome to the general election on May 6th. In Northern Ireland, however, plenty of politicians discreetly but fervently hope for just that. Those hoping hardest are in the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which has nine of the province’s 18 seats at Westminster and can realistically expect to hold all or most of them. That might be enough to give the party a much-enhanced influence on events, and at a time when it can use a little bolstering.

Neither Labour nor the Conservatives would rush to recruit the DUP, led by Northern Ireland’s first minister, Peter Robinson (pictured left), should they be short of a House of Commons majority. Founded by the Rev Ian Paisley, the party has a distinctly Protestant tinge and attracts next to no Catholic support. But a bloc of up to nine Democratic Unionists might be of tactical significance to either Gordon Brown or David Cameron in seeking to get legislation through Parliament. And unionists have in the past reached arrangements in the Commons with both Labour (in the 1970s) and the Tories (in the 1990s).

One DUP candidate, Ian Paisley junior, was unusually frank this week in signalling the party’s pragmatism. “We’ll hold out to see what’s in the best interests of Northern Ireland,” he said. “We’re not fettered to either Labour directly or to the Conservatives directly. We can make a value judgment at the end of the election.”

The main parties have other potential allies, of course, not least the Liberal Democrats. The Scottish National Party, with seven MPs in the last parliament, and the Welsh Plaid Cymru, with three, would love to play a role.

In Northern Ireland, though, the DUP is the ally that matters. The five MPs of Sinn Fein, the party of the deputy first minister, Martin McGuinness (shown right), are useless as counters, since ancient republican doctrine prohibits them from taking their Commons seats. The Tories have formed an alliance with the Ulster Unionist Party and are fielding agreed candidates in most constituencies. But this is unlikely to deliver more than a couple of seats at most.

A few months ago the DUP seemed in for a walloping by voters who disapproved of the Swish Family Robinson’s expertise in extracting taxpayer support via expenses, employing relatives and the like, as well as of the sexual scandal involving Mr Robinson’s wife, Iris. But a skilful defensive performance by Mr Robinson saved his leadership and steadied his party. In this he was helped by the fact that, when elections loom, many unionists and nationalists retreat to their laagers, voting primarily to keep the other side out. This tribal imperative means that the parties which share power at Stormont feel free to oppose each other in the Westminster contest—sometimes vehemently—without endangering the Belfast Assembly.

A similar lack of crossover exists between politics and the violence that has never been completely eradicated. This week responsibility for policing and justice was transferred from London to Belfast in what was hailed as the completion of devolution. Dissident republicans marked the occasion by attacking a joint army-MI5 headquarters near Belfast with a car bomb which, purely fortuitously, caused no injuries. Another incendiary device, which did not go off, was discovered a little more than a day later in County Armagh.

It is striking that all parts of the political spectrum are in absolute agreement that political life should not be affected by such bombings. The universal understanding is that the worlds of terrorism and politics must remain sealed off from each other.

Another point of agreement is that there will be shoulder-to-shoulder resistance to any moves by the next Westminster government to make deep cuts in Northern Ireland’s budget. Neither Labour nor the Conservatives have emitted any particularly ominous signals along those lines. But tough decisions must be made, and, if a new government looks set to make them at Belfast’s expense, all the Northern Irish parties will band together in protest, arguing that this could imperil what remains a fledgling settlement.

It all reflects Belfast’s curiously compartmentalised politics: often divided, especially at election time, but in some respects unexpectedly united.

  • “We’ll hold out to see what’s in the best interests of Northern Ireland,” or make that “Scotland” if you’re the SNP or “Wales” if you’re Plaid Cymru.

    What about holding out for the best interests of the nation you supposedly own your allegiance to?
    (That’s the United Kingdom in case you’d forgotten)

  • PaddyReilly

    What about holding out for the best interests of the….United Kingdom

    The best interest of the UK would be served by getting rid of the whole show. In what way is Great Britain better off for having 6 Irish counties shackled to it? Unionism is pre-eminently about serving the purposes of Irish Unionists, poor old Britain doesn’t come into it.

  • dundonald voter

    a tarnished MP has been facing angry voters, strong ‘conservative’ and ‘traditional unionist’ candidates and canvassing problems in braniel and cregagh meaning the dup may not win east belfast!

  • Driftwood

    If all the ‘nationalist’ parties (de facto regional)try to buffer themselves from cuts then this will be to the detriment of other regions, presumably in England. This would be unsustainable, and probably lead to hopelessly unstable government which would quickly disintegrate.
    And that would be disastrous in the financial markets. Sterling would tank and interest rates take off.
    This, of course, would have no impact on the comfortable taxpayer funded playboy lifestyles of DUP politicians.

  • Harry J

    And that would be disastrous in the financial markets. Sterling would tank and interest rates take off.

    Heard it all now, sterling , in fact the whole economy , is going to collapse because the DUP want a good deal for Northern Ireland

  • dundonald voter

    oh brilliant harry’s back any more posters??

  • dundonald voter

    you run away very quickly yesterday harry did you see peter the punt in clontibret with the red beret scaring the old age pensioner’s? or did you prefer the ak 47? ill ask you once more harry will you answer any questions

  • dundonald voter

    by the way on the above article i think a bloc of up tp 9 mps is slightly optimistic

  • Harry J

    DV – there will be at least 9 dup mps

    any more posters? yes:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/49264146@N05/4523783799/sizes/o/

  • dundonald voter

    by the way friftwood your making excellent points about the economy typical harry just dismisses you because he cant understand. all the dupes see is union safe, we can claim for everything expenses, have influence with property the whole country falling apart (note peter’s celebration in his leaflet that he has brought jobs to east belfast. were are they peter???) and as long as we can fly the flag were great. stiff little fingers were right in their im all right union jack fly the flag. keep moving forward to the dole ques peter

  • dundonald voter

    no chance harry of 9 harry

  • dundonald voter

    harry you really must watch this

  • dundonald voter

    by the way harry did you watch the leaders debate last night? thats the way party leaders should conduct themselves. not do are you dense? who do you think you are? im in my enemy’s terriority and bring it on. they are real politicians not corner boy rabble rousers

  • dundonald voter

    imagine peter the punt on national tv?? my God

  • dundonald voter

    although he might if theres a few quid in it

  • dundonald voter

    couldnt really see nick clegg david cameron or gordon brown in a red beret painting ulster says no on a wee village were the average age is 90 plus

  • dundonald voter

    he was a corner boy back then harry and now hes a corner boy in a suit a poor seamus mckee had to listen to his tirade of abuse. oh please east belfast get rid of this self serving little man

  • dundonald voter

    and before poor seamus

  • dundonald voter

    harry any success when you were out canvassing for junior about the questions i asked you yesterday? did he tell you why he claims £57,000 for a property with rental market value of £19,000.

  • dundonald voter

    did he tell you did he know seymour? did he tell arlene that he was amember of the dupes??

  • dundonald voter

    did he tell you why peter and iris wanted a £1600 bed? well we know the answer to that one no need to find out

  • dundonald voter

    did you find out why the house of paisley would fight for ulster with the last drop of everybody else’s blood and why ian senior never seen service in the second world war when eleigible to do so

  • dundonald voter

    did you ask ian senior why pensioners and men who fought in the world war and get a miserable £80 per week to live on why he calimed £400 per month for allowance for food while not even at the place? was he not on enough money from his couple of highly paid jobs or something??

  • dundonald voter

    claimed

  • dundonald voter

    did you ask him about his miraclous change of mind and conversion in 2007 after causing mayhem and hate for the previous 40 years and maybe having a hand in the forty years of troubles and the people of northern ireland in the wilderness

  • ardmaj55

    Dundonald voter. Funny how, for Ian Og, ‘the best interests of NI are conveniently the same as those for the DUP. By the way, is £5.00 the going rate for ‘slivers of land round your neck of woods?

  • Panic, these ones like it up em.

    I kinda feel sorry for Iris. I mean if there is one MP that could make proper use of a well hung parliament then it would have been Iris.

    I hope thjis parliament is hung because a lot of the participants in the last one should have been.

    I would’nt be happy if the Dup by some sorry situation were able to abuse (not in the Iris sense) the well hung parly.

  • cynic47

    Great that a few posters appear to have gone out to enjoy the lovely evening. Canvassing?

  • dundonald voter

    ardmaj55 down in dundonald you cant get 20 cigarettes for a fiver. good post about their self interests your spot on

  • dundonald voter

    panic harry has been away cos every poster he puts on ill keep putting the punt at clontibrett on the you tuve video. sorry for being repetitive but if the resident duper insists on putting knocking other parties ill keep putting the punt with the red beret and ak 47 up just to show how rididulous he is

  • dundonald voter

    putting posters

  • dundonald voter

    putting posters

  • Paz

    Just in case I’ll paste below the fold –
    Theft

  • dundonald voter

    i see the punt was at braniel primary school to – day. shame on you using children to promote your election campaign. one question peter when was the last time you attended a scool play? methinks it was 5 years ago!!! one word peter its not working the people of dundonald ballybeen sydenham newtownards road are well aware your a self serving self seeking man who has abused his power to help friends as long as they need a planning application.

  • dundonald voter

    by the way whose paying for all the male and female models the dup seem to be able to pay for? can any other party afford models? how come the dup can

  • ardmaj55

    Dundonald voter [4] In the Duplicity party, ethics is a county in England. If there’s any justice they’ll all get thrown out. alas, we’re probably stuck with Londongregory up here in east Derry.

  • Comrade Stalin

    oneill:

    What about holding out for the best interests of the nation you supposedly own your allegiance to?
    (That’s the United Kingdom in case you’d forgotten)

    I’m happy to be a citizen of the UK but I don’t see that I owe “allegiance” to it. Clue : most people in the UK aren’t Ulster Unionists.

  • I’m happy to be a citizen of the UK but I don’t see that I owe “allegiance” to it.

    No, CS, nothing wrong morally with that position whatsoever.

    But then you’re not attempting to sell yourself to the electorate as a “Unionist” are you?

    The DUP’s logic is exactly the same as that being spouted by Plaid Cymru, SNP:

    “Vote for us, we’ll promote our region at the expense of the rest of the UK”

    You can’t see a contradiction in a self-professed “Unionist” party spouting that?

  • dundonald voter

    well put o’neill. im beginning to think comrade stalin is a duper trying to disguise himself

  • RJ

    The United Kingdom is not a Nation
    its a Province ”sorry Colony” Under the Sovereignty of The European Union but then again so is the Republic
    and France to go along with it with a Guy we didnt elect with a Funny name as President does it remind you of anyone ill give you a Clue she wears a Lot of Strange hats and sits around eating tea and cruppits? thats it Queen Elizabeth and David Cameron and the Lib-Dems when the Religion Legimate Prime Minister was Gordan Brown for that matter who got the Majority of Vote in the Celtic Countries so thereof should be Prime Minister the English Dont really count because they cant run there own Affairs because they dont who they need our [the North of Ireland’s and Scotlands and Wales] Help. as for the Democratic Unionist party i would of tooken it more Seriously if it had of Came from the Nazy party.