One of the small deceptions of the election is the trumpeting of the wee parties about the mighty leverage they’d enjoy in a hung parliament. Don’t believe a word of it, voters. The SDLP’s Margaret Ritchie was at one with the DUP’s Peter Robinson in spinning a yarn which was also the lead shot in Alex Salmond’s launch for the SNP. Plaid Cymru’s Ieuan Gwyn Jones looked forward to a “strong wedge” of Welsh and Scottish Celts uniting to press for more dosh. (No mention of any brand of Northern Irish even though SNP and Plaid MPs sit in front of the DUP on the Commons benches) . Do they really believe that either the Conservatives or Labour would sidle up to them instead of the Lib Dems, whatever the arithmetic? Can you envisage a stable UK government supported by this motley crew – especially as all they’ve got to contribute is the sound of rattling begging bowls in continuing hard times for all? The English of all parties would unite to tell them to get stuffed. This is not how to make devolution work better.
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