DUP plan to form coalition with the Tories – what about it Dave?

Forget the Leader’s Debate! The real story cancels out all that stuff from Peter about “Ucunf ” lobby fodder”. This was quite something to keep back from the voters tonight. Even if the Conservatives haven’t responded  it’s a neat way to neutralise the Ucunf challenge. What would it say about the Conservatives sincerity in joining up the UUs if they were prepared to throw them over for a  secret deal with the DUP before the election?

This may be an election stunt. If so, Cameron needs to lay it to rest- fast 

 The Daily Telegraph understands that the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) is willing to enter into a formal coalition with the Tories should Mr Cameron fail to win an overall majority.


The paper can disclose that the DUP has drawn up a “shopping list” of demands in return for its backing of Mr Cameron. The wish-list is likely to be more extensive depending on how much Mr Cameron needs to rely on their support. If the Conservatives win anything between 280 and 330 seats, the DUP believes it will have a very strong negotiating hand. Top of the list is a demand that Mr Cameron holds back on the £100million to £200million of cuts which — under the terms of the Barnett formula used to calculate expenditure in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — would be Ulster’s share of the £6billion planned by the Tories this year.

One old hand seems unimpressed. Kenneth Clarke talks as if he doesn’t believe the story.  

Kenneth Clarke became the first shadow minister to talk openly about a possible deal.

“I think there’s a still a slim chance we can get an overall majority, which I would very much like to see,” the former chancellor said. “It is very difficult to read because the electoral geography is quite local and it is a complicated breakdown of voting which is taking place. But my hunch is we’re still in with a chance of getting a parliamentary majority.

“In the end you can always do a deal with an Ulsterman, but it’s not the way to run a modern, sophisticated society.”

It’s a nice offer Peter. But apart from Ken going sniffy, the polls suggest Cameron may need at least 14 friends and the projection as many as 52, with the Clegg bubble ahowing signs of sagging.

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