Brown makes the DUP an offer they can/cannot refuse

In a remarkable development Gordon Brown has moved to leave the door wide open to doing a deal with the DUP in the eventuality of his being close to being able to form a government.

The DUP has revealed the contents of a letter approved by Mr Brown and received by the leader Peter Robinson on Tuesday stating that a Labour government would honour all financial commitments promised in the recent Justice package and even more significantly has guaranteed no cuts to the Northern Ireland block grant for 2010/2011.

The Conservatives have been threatening to introduce £6b of cuts in the first year in government with fears obtaining in NI that people here might have to live with at least £100m of a cutback.

The DUP was not impressed with what was viewed as a swipe at the Robinsons by David Cameron on his trip to NI on Tuesday when he stated there would be no “swish” living by UU/CON MPS at Westminster.

This twist introduced at the eleventh hour and disclosed on the eve of poll brings a new dimension and element of surprise to a remarkable election campaign and bid for power on the road to Downing Street.

The full text  of Gordon’s Brown letter is reported below.

Dear Peter,

I am writing to confirm my continued commitment to the block grant for Northern Ireland for the current financial year and to confirm the financial settlement for the budget of the newly established Department of Justice.

As I have made repeatedly clear to you and the Leaders of all the political parties in the Assembly, I continue to recognize the unique problems that arose as a direct consequence of the years of The Troubles. It is essential that the recently established political recovery is not put at risk.

As you know, I believe it is an imperative to stabilize the economic recovery in Northern Ireland. It is very clear to me from my repeated visits and from meetings with you and the Deputy First Minister, we cannot take this recovery for granted. The work undertaken by all the Assembly parties to ensure political as well as economic stability remains equally vital.

I want to see a growing and strong private sector in Northern Ireland. However, I recognize that the legacy of the past will make this more difficult to achieve in the coming months than we may expect in other parts of the United Kingdom. This is a challenge we must all meet.

The achievements made by you and the political leaders of Northern Ireland have been an example to us all. I remain firmly committed to doing all I can to support this momentous progress and you can count on my continued support.

Yours Sincerely,

Rt Hon Gordon Brown
Leader of the Labour Party

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  • slug

    Slugger 6 hours behind the curve on this.

  • dodrade

    No chance of Brown being in a position to do a deal with the DUP to stay in power but Robinson will use it to force Cameron to at least match Brown’s offer.

  • Paddy

    \one wonders to what level an embattled politician will stoop to in order to cobble together some mish-mash of a coalition just to maintain power. I suppose any level is the answer.

    I sincerely hope that no party here has a say in the next British government for the sake of common decency. Reminds me of the case of Jackie Healy-Rae holding out for sweeties for his fiefdom in Kerry. Would turn your stomach as John once said.

  • bob wilson

    I guess Gordon just fancied using that No. 10 notepaper one more time.
    Gordon and Shaun sucking up to the DUP – who’d ave thought it

  • Paddy

    Maybe Robbo for Home Secretary?

  • Paddy

    This time tomorrow night we should have the first result in, probably west belfast and a head start for SF in the race to be top dog.

  • jim

    top dog he heeeeeeeeeeee maybe martin fisherman will have a say

  • Paddy

    i meant the party jim not the bearded wonder himself btw i love the way he says west minister my da always says that too

  • Framer

    Shaun Woodward must be desperate getting Gordon to sign a billet doux to Robbo offering him what he has already got.

    I doubt he is quite so witless as not to notice the letter is meaningless.

    Given Cameron’s imminent kissing of hands (see latest polls) I don’t imagine the DUP will be replying.

  • Greenflag

    Brown is right whatever recovery there is cannot be taken for granted and NI is despite the new apparent normality still a combustible political entity . I don’t trust the Tories on NI or on the economy and if I lived in NI I’d trust them even less .

    The fact that GB is prepared to countenance a ‘deal ‘ with the DUP is not in itself unsurprising . It’s not half as disturbing as the thought of David Cameron having to do a knife job on Reggie’s brigade before jumping into bed with the Robinson’s 😉 ?

    Before I forget and as tomorrow is big E day I hope all sluggerites will join me in wishing despite their individual party tags those Westminster candidates who bravely or should that be recklessly;;) ? posted comments on slugger prior to the campaign proper . We should commend Mr Bill Manwaring for his courage in standing in West Belfast for UCUNF , Mr Ian Parsley for UCUNF in North Down, and Mr David Vance TUV in East Belfast (with whom I’ve traded a few words ) . I hope they all do well and if they don’t win the Westminster seat that they do well enough to have a better chance running for the local Assembly next year .

    When all is said and done they are all putting themselves forward and asking for your vote . Whether we agree or disagree with their politics we can at least thank them for having the courage of their convictions and doing their bit to bring NI closer to a normal democracy .

    If I’ve missed any other candidate out there my apologies but lets be honest sluggerites -ALL the candidates of aall the parties deserve our best wishes for a safe and honest election .

  • Pete Baker

    “I am writing to confirm my continued commitment to the block grant for Northern Ireland for the current financial year and to confirm the financial settlement for the budget of the newly established Department of Justice.”

    What we’ve already agreed to, we continue to agree to.

    Cheers, Gordon/Shaun.

    Glad you’ve cleared that up.

    Not that the Labour Party is engaging in party political shenanigans over The [blessed] Process…

    Perhaps Shaun would also like to confirm that he will continue not to take his salary as a cabinet minister should his party be returned to power?


  • Cynic

    “Robinson will use it to force Cameron to at least match Brown’s offer.”

    This all supposes that Cameron will not have a majority. He will – perhaps 15+ seats

    A stupid promise from political zombie

  • Mark McGregor


    Well there are several constituencies that may not allow that promise to complete:

    South Belfast, South Antrim and Upper Bann to name three.

    If you want delivery you vote against the SDLP and UCUNF in all three it seems.

  • Pete Baker

    That’s some “remarkable development” indeed, Eamonn…

  • Pete Baker

    Current financial year, Mark?

    And most of the agreed financial settlement for the devolved justice budget relates to issues that central government bears responsibility for.

  • Sean Og

    Smart move from Brown to keep DUP on side just in case. I can’t see Labour being in a position to form the next Govt but you never know, so keep the options open. DUP with 8/9 seats are worth more than UCNF with 1 or none.

    Mind you it could be a Labour leader, other than Brown, trying to put together a majority before long.

  • slug

    I always skip your post but as I saw Bill mentioned I did read this one. I agree with this.

    Well done to the candidates across all the parties for all the work. Particularly to the new ones who have bravely stepped forward.

  • The Labour party has done stacks more for N.I. than the tories ever have. If you support fat cats that line their pockets ignore them.
    The Labour party policies have flaws too but none a seriously ignorant of class inequalities as the tories… Forget the tribalism that is prevalent all over this blog… Tribalism will never aid the greater good or all the people of all the communities. The amount of time spent bickering over old news and petty differences is what stunts all communities. Our economy needs help and cooperation from everyone.
    [Here comes the forceful but flawed witty right wing take down for sake of arguement…]

  • it’s not witty but it is a take down:

    We can’t afford the drugs any longer. It’s time for big government to become small again.

  • Pete Whitcroft

    At least he spelt his name rite.

  • Anonin

    Sure feels like 1960 all of the sudden.

  • unionistvoter

    so we still get the hike in National Insurance then, nice one Peter

  • Comrade Stalin


    We should commend Mr Bill Manwaring for his courage in standing in West Belfast for UCUNF , Mr Ian Parsley for UCUNF in North Down, and Mr David Vance TUV in East Belfast (with whom I’ve traded a few words ) .

    Bill Manwaring is the only one of them that I’ve seen run with a consistently positive campaign message. I do not agree with the Tory line, but I haven’t once heard him stop to do the usual mud slinging at Brown or the DUP or anyone else, instead emphasising the benefits of voting his way.

    I think negative campaigning is a big turn off for people. And it definitely doesn’t help when you tell a voter at a public debate “be quiet and you might learn something” as a certain UCUNF candidate did recently.

    I suspect David Vance will sink under the waves after this, and if Jim Allister fails to make a breakthrough in N Antrim he will do the same.

  • Rory Carr

    Can we know the date of this letter, please and know to whom, precisely, it was addressed – to Peter Robinson as leader of a political party, the DUP, or to Peter Robinson as First Minister of the NI Assembly (in which case was a similar letter addressed to the Deputy Leader?).

    If the latter, then the letter may be merely seen as confirming agreements reached during and subsequent to the Hillsborough discussions and all the ” Brown bribery of DUP” speculative hype would rather fall flat would it not?

  • Greenflag

    I was making the point regardless of party or personalities or tomorrow’s result . They are all going before the court of public opinion and they are all only human yes even David Vance 😉

    I think the slug is not a happy camper these days 😉 . The prospect of no UCUNFer’s being returned to Westminster is too close to be comfortable >

    I’m hoping for a Lab /Lib Dem voluntary coalition with GB stepping down in about 2 years . If the Tories win I’d like to see them have a clear majority. Probably not good at this juncture for a Tory government to be ‘dependent’ on any of the NI parties and I mean not good for NI generally.

    That certain UCUNF candidate you mention – What can one say except that old Tory arrogance is catching and nowhere in the UK is it likely to stick as well as among the UCUNF brigade 😉

  • madraj55

    ‘hope that no party here has a say in the next British government for the sake of common decency’
    Dead right, Paddy. And Democracy. This place owes it’s very continued existence on electoral abuse, so it would be an irony indeed.

  • James Broadhurst

    This is no surprise. Labour plan to actually increase public spending this financial year in the UK. Smart move with such a huge deficit. Therefore it is no pains for Brown to make this commitment to NI. It is then even easier for the DUP to make themselves out to be negotiations gods by displaying the letter.

    Do not be fooled! Tough decisions must be made, sooner rather than later. What would Labour do with NI’s block grant next year?

    Cut your nose off to spite your face? – DUP

  • Jimmy Sands

    Two Daily Hitler stories on this listed on Nuzhound:

    Daily Mail
    Cameron wins unionist backing thanks to £200million deal for region (May 5)

    Daily Mail
    Brown ‘offers £200m bribe’ to Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionists

    You’d think they’d at least try to be less transparent.

  • Stroke City Emboli

    I have difficulty trusting this letter until I see that a copy of it, not just the wording, is posted on the DUP site. Why have I doubts?
    Firstly as posted by Rory Carr I would like to see exactly to whom the letter is addressed.
    Secondly the grammar is odd – use of the Americanised words “recognize the unique problems” …and… “stabilize”… Maybe the Labour party author suffered under the English comprehensive school system, or maybe they are using a US spellcheck.

    Come on DUP – clear the matter up by posting a copy of the letter on your site. You can cover Peter’s handwritten comments if you like.