NI parties’ roles in rival power blocks

In the throes of hectic reporting,  it’s easy to slip up over the odd stray NI MP. Nick Robinson totting up notional rival power blocs.

LAB: 261
LD: 57
SDLP: 3
ALLIANCE: 1
Possible total: 322

CON: 306
DUP: 8
IND UN: 1
Possible total: 315

Non-aligned:
SNP + PC: 9
GREEN: 1

With the help of Svlvia and possibly the sole Green Caroline Lambert, the Labour bloc should hit 324, which is enough, after subtracting the absent 5 SF and the Speaker from the 326 threshold. In the other bloc, the Cons are one seat less by 5 votes  in FST to 314, not quite enough. But even the Guardian doubts the stability of a wider rainbow coalition taking in the SNP and Plaid.

The prospect of NI influence on the outcome is fading, at least for now. Cameron’s “big open and comprehensive” offer to the Lib Dems of an all-party committee to consider electoral reform in exchange for a coalition or support for a Cons minority government, is spurned both by Tory diehards: ” not enough” and by electoral reform zealots “the death of the Conservative party.”  Brown’s offer in this area is bigger, by promising immediate legislation and an early referendum; but Cameron’s is more detailed in social and economic policy. Even the Guardian admits that Brown’s putative rainbow coalition looks shaky and takes a lot for granted.

Rearranging the blocs, a Cons/ L-D coalition or lesser deal would put Cameron comfortably over the top with 363 seats. 

Cameron and Clegg are now at their peak of their powers, such they are in these minority stakes. If electoral reform is the Lib Dems deal maker or breaker, now is the time to strike before a second general election increases the government majority. There may never be a better opportunity.

On the other hand, to avoid getting dragged down in a Tory-led austerity coalition before an early second election, why not hang loose?

  • Reader

    Brian Walker: On the other hand, to avoid getting dragged down in a Tory-led austerity coalition before an early second election, why not hang loose?
    Since there is no real alternative to austerity, wouldn’t the Lib Dems be guilty of putting party before country if they avoided getting down to work for the sake of keeping their shoes nice and shiny?

  • Mark McGregor

    Remember the UUP were hoping for a Ministerial position with 1/2 MPs.

    Wonder if the SDLP would push for similar in return for supporting a Lab/Lib coalition.

    Changed times from Unionism expecting to hold the levers of power just a few hours ago.

  • Brian Walker

    Mark, Even though this was unknown territory, a big role of all NI parties was always unlikely. Unionists holding the balnce of power only happens when the GB blocs are close together and NI parties can close a small gap. It’s an awful long time since this was the case in elections. I suppose we might see Trimble given a signified but junior appoitment in say, Justice but that’s just a guess. I don’t suppose the SDLP would want a ministerial appointment as this would compromise their moderate nationalism.

  • Michaelhenry

    the big 4 here, SINN FEIN, D.U.P, S.D.L.P and ALLIANCE.

  • Greenflag

    Maybe NI parties can show some appreciation for the determined and unrelenting efforts of the British Labour Party over the past 12 or 13 years to bring peace and normality to Northern Ireland ?

    So with 8 DUP plus 3 SDLP plus 1 AP plus 1 Ind Unionist that would give Gordon Brown 327 . Even better if SF offered their 5 seats to make it 332 . That would be enough probably to enable Gordon Brown to keep going for at least another couple of years for the country to turn around its economy ?

    Alas eaten bread is soon forgotten and political principles are as we know you know political principles and thus inviolable ;)?

  • Yes Brown wrote to Robinson promising no cuts to the NI block grant so a DUP deal with Labour is not out of the question and Sylvia usually votes with Labour

  • johnno

    Brian Walker wrote,

    “I don’t suppose the SDLP would want a ministerial appointment as this would compromise their moderate nationalism.”

    Moderate nationalism???!!! Don’t make me laugh. Sure, wasn’t Durkan only too keen to ditch the local assembly to concentrate on serving the British parliament and taking his oath to the Queen?

  • jeep55

    A bit of double counting going on here. Labour won 258 seats – not 261. The figure of 261 includes the 3 SDLP MPs who take the Labour whip. So you cannot count them again. But the mathematics are intriguing. Labour (258) + Lib Dem (57) + NI ‘who take seats in Westminster’ Coalition (13) = 328 and the one Green MP is likely to favour this as well. Every colour except blue!

  • Granni Trixie

    It woulnt make sense to give Trimble an appointment,even a Junior one, given that Cameron must be aware of the bad advise he has given re NI situation,notably the UU/Tory merger. Plus Trimble has no UU voting power to deliver in a hung parliament situation.

    Why would you want this liability on your shiny new team?

  • Greenflag

    Scot’s Nationalist leader Salmond appears to have changed his tune re non intervention in the formation of a coalition government at Westminster .

  • abucs

    If the Conservatives and Lib-Dems do not form a co-alition there will be another election well within 3 years.