Sinn Féin’s response to criticism of their refusal to sit at Westminster in the face of proposed cuts post-election has been to call on all the other parties “to unite with us against the cuts”, and even to press for an increase in the block grant. At the same time the party’s manifesto, along with others, wants fiscal powers devolved and corporation tax reduced – whilst also refusing to agree to the introduction of water charges. Balance those books.
The problem for Sinn Féin is that, in that case, their objective of prompt devolution of those powers was shared by the UK government – It was the DUP’s consent which was being negotiated.
Post-election, without any votes in Parliament, what do Sinn Féin have to offer in any negotiation over cuts?
The SDLP’s Dolores Kelly calls it right in this Belfast Telegraph report
SDLP Upper Bann candidate Dolores Kelly argued: “When the battle of the cuts is joined on the floor of Westminster, Sinn Fein won’t even be there. By all accounts they are getting a hard time on the doorsteps on their totally outdated abstention policy, especially given the possibility of a hung Parliament.
“Public-sector workers are asking them what they are going to do if David Cameron swings the axe and they have no answers. Now it seems they want us and others to be their Westminster proxies, to attach themselves in some way to those who will be actually doing the hard work and the fighting. [added emphasis]
“We are no longer hearing grandiose claims about their influence at Downing Street. They will get short shrift at the back door of Downing Street if David Cameron gets his hands on the front door.”