Hung Parliament: Do the math…

No white smoke yet from the Conservative and Lib Dem teams trying to negotiate an agreed pactIf they fail to reach an understanding, it could be the Labour party’s turn to dance with the Lib Dems.  As the BBC’s Stephen Walker points out, even with Sinn Féin’s vacant seats taken into account, the election results show those two parties would still fall short of the required 323 seats.  By just 8 votes… From Stephen Walker’s article  

The SDLP traditionally takes the Labour whip and their three MPs – Mark Durkan, Margaret Ritchie and Alasdair McDonnell – would back a Labour administration.

The new East Belfast MP Naomi Long would most likely support her colleagues in the Liberal Democrats, which is a sister party to Alliance.

Lady Sylvia Hermon is another MP who would most likely support a non-Tory administration.

Her opposition to the Conservatives is well documented and resulted in her resignation from the Ulster Unionist Party.

Now sitting as an independent MP she is on record as saying she would vote against David Cameron as prime minister.

So Northern Ireland could initially deliver 5 votes for a Lib-Lab administration.

That figure could grow to 13 if the DUP came on board. However all local MPs would seek guarantees about Northern Ireland’s block grant and over other economic matters.

It’s not as unlikely as it might seem.  After all, the DUP has voted with a recent Labour government in key votes before.  And not just once.

So whilst, as Brian noted, it might seem that the NI parties would sit in rival power blocs, it ain’t necessarily so.

Whatever happens, an abstentionist Sinn Féin have nothing to talk to anyone about.

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  • slug

    Yes this is possible.

    SDLP vote for Labour so the Lib(57)/Lab(258)/SDLP(3) comes to 318 and add on DUP and you have 326, greater than the necessary 323. Long may find that she fits naturally in with Lib Dem and may see benefits of cooperating with them, so that would be 327.

    Holding SDLP/DUP together isn’t that hard – NI is a small place only 3% or 4% of population. So deals don’t involve that much money. It would be a cross community pact 🙂 . And it wouldn’t involve Labours rivals in Plaid or SNP.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    The Lib-Labs need only the Nationalists from Scotland, Norn Iron and Wales plus Naomi and adding in a toxic brand like the DUP (unless it was strictly necessary) would be extremely poor public relations for a coalition which will be savagely attacked by the British press smarting from ‘their’ candidate being ‘cheated’ from Number 10 and having a party made up of mad Paddies who are religous zealots would be a serious own goal.

    Regarding SF they can have the satisfaction of knowing they did an excellent job in thwarting the Tories in their tribal stitch up in FST and ensuring the have zero presence in Ulster. How fecking sweet was that.

  • Mrazik

    How would Long forming part of a UK government in Westminster be seen to affect Alliance’s traditionally non-aligned position here (i.e. neither Unionist nor Nationalist)?

  • slug

    They wouldn’t form the government any more than SDLP did in the last 13 years of Labour, when they sat with Labour.

  • lamhdearg

    lib/dems to split over pact with torys. Tory/libdem rebels/dup, To form uk gov.

  • slug

    The Lib Dems will not split.

    A comment on the forum in LibDem Home:

    “In the light of the DUP announcement, I reckon we go the whole hog in funding Northern Ireland generously. They are only 1.7m in total and would be much less expensive than the Scots and the Welsh and much less contentious in terms of UK geopolitics. With the DUP on board too, a majority including various Northern Ireland parties of 328 could be constructed, versus only 307 for the Tories on their own. Even if the Welsh and the Scottish nationalists voted against, without the DUP, the Tories could only make it to 316.”

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    Labour need to keep Scotland and Wales sweet by spending the money anyway as they are their main support areas and just imagine how the exclusion of moderate parties like Plaid and SNP from a deal in favour of a party noted for religious intolerance and bigotry would play – it would be a massive propaganda for the Nationalists not to mention that the Labour party are already in coalition with Plaid in the Welsh assembly.

  • lamhdearg

    Good trolling slug, i dont think the lib/dem will go 100% with the torys or labor. they will sit back for now or split. But as i thought pistol pete rob would scrape home with 2000 to spare i give little to my thoughts.

  • anne warren

    Think one aspect of the hung parliament deserves a thought. The Conservatives have majority in England with few seats in Wales, Scotland and NI. The English will be very upset if they are governed from Westminster by parties the majority haven’t voted for. Wales and Scotland will probably be very cross if they are. Where does NI stand?

  • slug

    Not trolling!

  • lamhdearg

    anne we in ulster have been ruled by a majority we did not vote for since 1972.

  • slug

    Scotland’s Labour voters will be happy that the Labour party is in and would not want that compromised by SNP who they hate. Scotland will be treated well but I don’t think NI parties would be very expensive as we are only a small region and our politicians would not be unrealistic in their position-the SDLP and DUP providing a cross-comunnity pact.

  • lamhdearg

    sorry trolling may not be what i was trying to say. how about good looking up stuff.

  • Free State Barsteward

    Tories discussions with Lib Dems will fail over PR issue.

    GB & NC agree on PR, call in 13 NI reps, say they will not cut block grant for support.

    Majority secured.


  • slug

    OK – I thought that might have been what you meant!

    I just am not sure they will split – if they go with Labour.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    ok you have worn me down, you may be right. Hopefully the Tories and LibDems will fail and we will get a chance to see who is right.

    If the DUP do get invited to the party it will be very amusing to listen to the what the UUP have to say having boasted that they were going to be at the heart of government.

  • anne warren


    I don’t understand your comment

    The old Stormont was suspended for valid reasons.
    Why should any Unionist have objected to Direct rule? It meant NI was truly united to the rest of the UK.
    The new Assembly fits in with Labour’s devolution strategy (see the Scottish parliament and Welsh assembly) and in NI it also served to greatly reduce violence.
    Members of the new Stormont are voted in. The majority presumably reflects who and what people vote for.

    Free State Barsteward
    If you had listened to David Dimbleby on the BBC Election special you would have heard him say not everyone thinks the price should be paid.

  • Free State Barsteward


    It was a long night with Noel Thompson, Jim Fitz et al, so unfortnately I did not see Mr. Dimblely much.

    Personally, the thoughts of the DUP gaining influence of the next British government are scary and would be a price I probably wouldn’t pay but politicians will do anything for power. The choice for all parties is simple, comprimise and form a coalition or face the electorate again.

  • Its all a bit too iffy for me. Who ever takes over is going to have to take some tough decisions. If, as is likely, the ‘pacts’ fail after a few months, no party is going to want to carry the can for the failure, or for the imposition of unpopular policies.

  • Mr E Mann

    that’s about as likely as this one:

    NI becomes independent under new combined DUP/Sinn Fein junta. That reduces the number of Westminster seats by 18 and the number necessary for a coalition by 9, allowing Labour/LibDems to govern UK.

    On a more serious note, the cost of NI subsidy ain’t sh*t to the UK. Let them control their deficit by joining fewer American military adventures.

  • Without sounding like a grouchy bastard, once again, do the MATHS!

  • lamhdearg

    anne sorry for the delay. what do you not understand about my comment. ps i am not a unionist.

  • lamhdearg


  • aleks

    See my thoughts on the parliamentary arithmetic (including the constituency that has still to vote) at

  • Michaelhenry

    there is no labour in vicTORY.

  • lover not a fighter

    Without copper fastened guarantees the Lib Dems would have to be cazy to go into coalition with the Tories

  • lover not a fighter

    ” copper fastened guarantees ” thats on introducing either Proportional representation or Alternative Vote.

  • Please god lets see some unity between all our parties to empower a lab/lib seats. The Conservatives wont be as kind to the NI budget and I think we could all do with providing an united body when it comes to potential slashes on public spending etc. I think it’s a case of sealing the ship…

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    lover not a fighter,

    “copper fastened guarantees”.

    There have previously been 2 “cast iron guaranteees” from the Tories, 1 on a referendum on Europe and 1 on no electoral pacts in Ulster – both broken before they even get to power. Baseless metals.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    When the SNP talk of the need for a ‘progressive alliance’ are they aiming that remark at both the Tories and the DUP – if the shoe fits and all that.

    ..and talking of the fitting of shoes is Maggie Ritchie shaping up to be Cinderella and the two Unionist ugly sisters, Wee Reggie and Robbo, not going to get to the ball after all?

  • lover not a fighter

    Well if it was up to me I would not trust the Tories as they will try to sucker in the Lib Dems in the short term and then cut and run if and when they think they can get their own overall majority.

    The Lib Dems should (and pretty soon) say they tried very hard to come to terms with the Tories but ufortunately there was not enough common ground and they reccomend that the Tories should try to form a minority goverment.

    The Lib Dems should then vote on issues in the interests of the people that have voted for them.

    The Lib Dems should not forget that they are servants of their voters.

    Buyer Beware of Tory wheeler dealers even if they are Eton/ Bullingdon club wheeler dealers.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    I agree, what I have not seen explained is why> Clegg issued his I have to speak to the Tories first line.

    The biggest party reason he gave is first-past-the-post-jibber-jabber and given that a big majority of people who voted for the LibDems dont want the Tories and when you add them to Labour total and add the Nationalists in Ulster and Scotland and Wales there is surely a majority for a 'progressive alliance' as in the boul Alex's words. Clegg (an old Etonian himself?) seems to have tripped himself up on his own ideological shoelaces.

  • Michaelhenry

    labour are gone, there is more hope of the robinsons re newing there wedding voes than for gordon brown being prime minister this christmas.

  • Richard T

    Posting from Scotland, it would be surprising if Labour were to put any trust in the SNP in any form of coalition when we have our own elections next year. That would give wee Eck a stranglehold on them which whatever London might think, Glasgow won’t wear and looking at the other sizeable potential partner although they did buy off fthe DUP last year, I’m not sure how a permanent link would play in much of the Central Belt.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit



    There is vitrually no chance of Brown being prime minister at Christmas but using Paddy Power as a guide(up until they pulled it yesterday) the chances of a Lib-Lab deal was 3/1 down from 6/1 the previous day. Milliband will presumably be odds on to lead any Lib-Lab-Nats/DUP government.

  • G O’Neill

    “Whatever happens, an abstentionist Sinn Féin have nothing to talk to anyone about”- Just couldn’t write an article without trying to have a swipe at SF.

    Poor Pete after months of bashing Sinn Fein/Gerry Adams you must feel very bitter today with Sinn Fein holding all thier seats and increasing its vote to become the largest party in the North. The thing you don’t seem to grasp is that they where elected on an abstentionist platform why then would they want to prop up a British Government?

  • lover not a fighter

    Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit says:9 May 2010 at 11:06 amI agree, what I have not seen explained is why> Clegg issued his I have to speak to the Tories first line.

    The biggest party reason he gave is first-past-the-post-jibber-jabber and given that a big majority of people who voted for the LibDems dont want the Tories and when you add them to Labour total and add the Nationalists in Ulster and Scotland and Wales there is surely a majority for a ‘progressive alliance’ as in the boul Alex’s words. Clegg (an old Etonian himself?) seems to have tripped himself up on his own ideological shoelaces. ”

    I am a bit worried that there is going to be stitch up between Clegg and Cameron. That relationship is a little cosy for my liking. Clegg had better be careful because if he is taken for a ride and becomes the Tory stooge he will be surprised how quickly those that he has let down will do him in.

  • Completely agree. The English voted tory by about 54% and they will not be happy if they find themselves being shafted by the Scots, Welsh and us!

    Interesting times we live in…some might say the union is quartered…

  • circles

    is math the singular of mathematics?

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    lover not a fighter,

    being taken for a ride would clearly not be good for his political future but one the public might pass off as naivety but how he can justify, by using a biggest-party-first-past-the-post-arguement, in going first to the Tories in what must be against the views of the vast majority of those who voted for him is another matter.

  • If that was aimed at me I did the math!

    1) Liblabs do not have the numbers to form a governement, they would need strong support from the nationalist parties.

    2) If that happened it would leave England, having voted by a majority of 54%, being governed by parties they do not want. West Lothian would have nothing on it.

    3) Scot nats and labour have no reason to work together. No way is Alec Salmond going to carry the can back for any austerity measures the government have to introduce, especially with Scottish elections next year.

  • Pete Baker

    It’s a statement of fact.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    Something that always seems to conveniently pass you by is that selective use of facts to suit a particualr point of view is not only as obvious as a Tory tribal voting pact in FST but is also viewed as misleading and designed to simply further that view.

  • lover not a fighter

    Hopefully Clegg is taking the Tories for a small spin and will anounce soon that though they tried hard they just could not get it together.

    There will be nothing but destruction for the Lib Dems in going into coalition with the Tories.

    Let the Tories go with a minority goverment. The Lib Dems cannot sacrifice the major reason that most of their supporters vote for them and that is first and foremost voting reform.

  • Pete Baker

    And what exactly is selective about it, Sammy? Never mind “misleading”.

    After all, I’ve noted all the other relevant parties’ positions.

  • Jaggers

    Although the SNP, Clywd and the SDLP should be sitting down RIGHT NOW to hammer out how they can offer a 12-vote block to Labour, I wonder would a Labour-Conservative coalition be so outlandish? Think about it, neither truly wants electoral reform which will consign them to coalition administrations for the next century, they share the same policies on crime, Trident and the NHS. On the economy neither was being truthful during the campaign – the scale of fiscal tightening was never revealed lest it fighten the electorate but beyond a few minor differences (National insurance, inheritance tax) doesn’t a Lab-Con coalition make the most sense? David as first minister with Gordon his deputy but with the additional hat of chancellor (after all, he was a pretty good chancellor who would have been one of the best were it not for the global credit crunch). Labour will need have a leadership contest but that can happen and leave Gordon at the Treasury. And in a two years they can hold elections having laid the foundations for economic recovery?

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Pete, this a post about the maths of Westminster and you finish off your comment with “Whatever happens, an abstentionist Sinn Féin have nothing to talk to anyone about”. This could hardly be called relevant and of course inlcudes a link to another one of your anti-SF pieces.

    I’m not saying being objective is easy but hey you should give it a try just occasionally?

  • Clanky

    If the Clegg Cameron thing falls apart then one can only hope that any LibLab pact either gets into bed with all the major NI parties or none of them, a government relying on the votes of either unionist or nationalist parties in NI would be a horribly bad thing for NI.

    Can you imagine the conversations – “yes we will vote for the elctoral reform bill that you have made such a huge issue, but only if you ban orange parades / make all MLA’s swear an oath of allegience to the Queen*

    *delete as appropriate.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    “a government relying on the votes of either unionist or nationalist parties in NI would be a horribly bad thing for NI”

    That is what the UUP and the DUP have been boasting about and praying for respectively. What we have witnessed in this election is the probable end of Unionist power broking and perhaps coincidentally the sudden dislike for it.

  • Michaelhenry

    the 32 counties voted for the good friday agreement, it will take the 32 counties to change the law to make M.L.A.s swear the oath of allegience to the anti catholic crown, and that is not going to happen.

  • anne warren

    Tend to agree that” What we have witnessed in this election is the probable end of Unionist power broking” Thought it interesting another thread seemed to suggest DUP voting suggested a trend towards NI independence, but may not be recalling content exactly. Anyway, according to these reports Scotland seems to be the (un)sticking point.
    1)Tim Luckhurst: The English question is still unanswered
    The largest country in the union risks being dictated to by Scotland and Wales. The resulting resentment could break up the UK
    2) Cut Scotland loose – then we’ll have a fair voting system
    Minette Marrin
    3) Labour’s success in Scotland reveals Britain’s stark political divide, says Alan Cochrane
    “the question must now arise as to whether David Cameron, even if he does manage to form a government, can claim a mandate to run Scotland after such an abject failure by his party”

  • Framer

    There is no question of whether Naomi Long attaches herself to the LibDems, They are Alliance’s sister party. She will stick to them and sit with them as closely as is conceivable, probably taking the whip. She would be daft not to seek it otherwise she will be flotsam like Lady Hermon.

    Long is also a party person working her way up through the council and Stormont, and not a personality.

    Her only problem might be propping up a Conservative government and becoming an indirect UCUNF MP, but that’s politics.

  • bulmer

    I thought Lady H was expected to take the labour whip? In the current parliament the last thing she will be is flotsam.

  • Foreverandever

    What math?

    Only 39.6% of English voters voted tories so your West Lothian point doesn’t bear scrutiny. A LibLab coalition would have the support of 52.1% of the English electorate.

    You are right re Salmond & Labour will do no deal for local reasons but for similar reasons the SNP will not back the tories either – ‘tartan tories’ jobe took many years to fade

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    if there were PR in Scotland the Tories with 16% of the vote could-perhaps-maybe get about 10 seats.

  • Framer

    No she has never said she will take the discipline of a whip. She is a unionist after all and from North Down.

  • Greenflag

    That’s probably about right . But in England instead of 297 they would have gotten about 215 .In total under STV the result for Britain would have been Conservatives 232 , Labour 190 , Liberal Dems 147 , Scots Nationalists 12 , Plaid 4 , Unionists 9 and SDLP 3 with Alliance 1 .

    In terms of the present ‘haggling /negotiation ‘ it would be the same two choices i.e Tory /Liberal v Progressive Alliance .
    Can’t see the UK going for multi seat constituencies . The Tories really need the FPTP system if they hope ever again to form a single party government . Perhaps they need to get with the new order before the new order leaves without them ?

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    “becoming an indirect UCUNF MP”

    Eh no, that would be as a UCAF(Ulster Conservatvie Alliance Front) MP.

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