Rainbow coalition ruled out

The best clue we have of Nick Clegg’s negotiating position came from Paddy Ashdown on the Today programme this morning.

If this was a coalition made up of what you might call the panjandrum elements that you suggest, I would not be in favour of it. It is a coalition made up of Liberal Democrat and Labour in which we would dare the other elements if they wished to vote us down and, I can tell you, I can think of no political circumstances where that would happen.

In other words,  a narrowly based Lab Lib Dem rather than a rainbow coalition might be enough for  the Lib Dem leadership  , even though some arrangement with NI parties can be assumed, almost taken for granted. The SDLP already take the Labour whip in UK wide matters, Alliance is affiliated to the Lib Dems. Presumably they would be bound into the coalition majority. Sylvia Hermon would be asked for formal support in the light of her anti Tory campaign and thumping majority.

The essential “rainbow”  element , the SNP has been explicitly ruled out by  Labour  this morning.  Labour’s objections are not limited to basic incompatibility with the SNP. They extend to any suggestion that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would receive special treatment in the imminent deficit reduction plan. It’s not a question of the sums of money involved which are comparatively small , taking account of the scale of total government expenditure. It’s the principle of unwarranted favouritism that would infuriate the English majority of all parties. Short term gain could be won at the  expense of  destabilising the new government and even the Union. As John Reid bluntly put it: ” if we watch the minutes too closely we lose the hours” Along with the Heath Robinson nature of the whole thing, this is the greatest weakness of the whole Lab-Lib scenario.

That is not say there is nothing for NI parties to gain. An extra 5 NI votes would come in handy and even a further 8 DUP are not be sniffed at. But NI  parties should entertain no illusions. A formal deal as part of coalition settlement giving NI exemption from a deficit reduction plan can be ruled out in any coalition, whether Conservative or Labour led.

By the way, in any arrangement with Labour , the voting record of NI MPs would have to improve dramatically.  In  thehigjly volatile new Parliament,  they would be required to be on hand  every day and sometimes into the night.  Under this sort of  pressure you can forget about  dual mandates.

As a footnote, how interesting to see that  Niall Dowd  the Irish-American lobbyist  is urging them to take their seats and back a Lab- LD coalition.

And yet.. the whole notion smacks of desperation. Is it  really viable if “crunch time ” is supposed to come tonight, and there’s no sign as I write  that the NI parties have been spoken to?

  • Driftwood

    Gregory Campbell has already shot his load, so to speak, that double jobbing is to stay for the precious DUP. If NI MP’s are vital to key leglislation, that Icelandic volcano could torpedo such votes unlesss there is going to be a Lib-Lab helicopter on standby.

  • Lionel Hutz

    SDLP have apparently been contacted

  • Munsterview

    For those of you interested I have copied Niall O’Dowd’s article from his site at Irish news @ Irish Central. Niall is fairly close to Gerry & Co. and to use a Yankee saying it is unlikely that he would run anything up the flagpole without first knowing who was likely to saluted it !. This is why this piece is of particular importance, in this instance he possibly not alone knew who was going to salute but also who gave him the flag to run up.

    Whatever; the following is Niall’s article, scree the entrails for yourselves!.
    Sinn Fein should consider entering the British parliament in order to help create a progressive government in Britain given today’s turn of events.

    With Liberal Democrats leader David Clegg now turning away from the Torys and looking to join a Labor-led government the numbers come up very tight for any new political combination. Gordon Brown will step down and there will be a new Labor leader

    Currently, the Sinn Fein party is abstaining because of the oath of loyalty to the Queen, but there comes a time when you are either in or out of the political game, especially as they could use their negotiating power to neutralize that oath for them in future elections.

    If the Lib Dems and Labor join together with the Scottish nationalist, Welsh Nationalists, SDLP in Northern Ireland and a few others they eke out a bare majority.

    In that case the Conservatives will be close behind with the Democratic Unionist Party no doubt on board with them.

    Sinn Fein has five votes that could prove critical in stabilizing that progressive government.

    Gordon Brown will no longer be Prime Minister but the Labor party has been outstanding under both him and his predecessor Tony Blair in creating the peace settlement in Northern Ireland.

    The Sinn Fein leadership could take the oath and enter parliament with an understanding that the issue of the oath will dealt with in the near term by the next election by the new Labor /Liberal government.

    When if ever could Sinn Fein votes be as important in shaping the future of Northern Ireland and making the Irish peace process a full reality?

    The time is now to take that step

  • Bulmer

    No mainline party will touch a deal with SF with a bargepole. Yes it may be the only solution to Ulster but a Brit PM being kept in power by Gerry Adams! Get real. It would be political suicide.

    Noone misses SF at Westminster so they may as well stay put.

  • Lionel Hutz

    That may be true. I’m not sure Sinn Fein would be welcomed if their votes made the majority, but if they were there to support the majority, that’s a different matter.

    While I think that a progresssive coalition is needed for N.I., is really correct to say that they were much better than say Major for the peace process. Personally I got a bit sick of the joke financial fig leaves that turned out to be very different from what they seemed. Still it tricked SF who in turn tricked the people

  • Greenflag

    ‘Gordon Brown will no longer be Prime Minister but the Labor party has been outstanding under both him and his predecessor Tony Blair in creating the peace settlement in Northern Ireland.’

    Very important for NI but way down the priority list for most Britons . While I would like to see SF take their seats at Westminster such a move at this time would be seen as opportunistic .

    I think it’s time to start getting used to the idea of a Conservative Liberal government.

  • Greenflag

    The vans are being loaded at the back of Downing St . It looks like Gordon Brown’s offer to the Lib Dems has not gone down well with many Labour Party backbenchers which means that Cameron’s hand is strengthened with the Lib Dems .

    Game over

  • Greenflag

    Presumably to tell them the good news i.e their presence at Westminster will not be required at every vote and the bad news i.e prepare for large scale cuts -ditto for the DUP/SF/AP.

  • Munsterview


    Would you ever get real! If your horizons were a little wider than East of the Bann to the sea shore or whatever little lagger of Loyalist Territorial purity you think is left up there, would know that that it’s Unionism that is an embarrassment around Westminster these days.

    Politically many of Labour have have much in common with Sinn Fein Social Policies; most Tories on the other hand would not have the average working class loyalist as a beater at one of their pheasant shoots, must less sharing their political ideology.

    As to ‘Big House Unionism, Reg and other Old Relics of ‘Old Decency’ ( or as was more often the Six County case; indecency ) how often was Cameron in the Six Counties before election or how often will he be back if he is not elected ?.

    As I have previously said The Great True Blue Tory Churchill himself before the Second World War offered to give Dev the whole Six Counties and all on them, people included, Catholic and Protestant, Unionist and Nationalist alike with immediate effect for the temporary use of a few rusting galvanized sheds and weed covered stone piers in his ‘Six Counties for use of Ports’ offer.

    That is how much Ulster Loyalists Lands meant to Churchill and his High Tory kind. When will you getting around to taking a long, hard look at the pathetic White Afrikaners who could not accept the inevitable Majority Rule in their Country and where they are now ?.

    Even if Cameron gets in, as I personally believe that he will at this stage, the True Brit Tories, irrespective of what they say for public consumption, will make sure that no Celtic Fringe tails will continue to wag English Dogs.

    We will indeed see a different attitude from Cameron and one that will surprise Unionists whatever of Nationalists opinion. Over the last few years I have been meeting enough informed English people to know how they feel about the Six Counties to know also that Cameron in regard to practical politics, must be mindful of the Shires.

    For Republicans it is black and white, the daggers are already drawn on both sides ( or at least should be on ours), no more fuzzy edges, we will all quickly know where we stand. A lot will be quickly clarified and that is no bad thing, there has been enough drift, double talk and implying of ‘understandings’ with Whitehall by the Sinn Fein Leadership that are just not turning into political realities on the ground.

    Let the Games commence!

  • bulmer


    You clearly haven’t followed much history since 1945.

    Let me tell you about 9/11. It was a cowardly terrorist attack which made supporting terrorist outfits like SF/IRA about as desirable as herpes. Unlike you, I’ve been in the Labour party in England and I rarely met any of these SF lovers you allude to. Yes to an United Ireland but only with consent. And once you explained the narrow sectarian bigotry of ‘ourselves alone’ most could understand why any reasonable person would refuse to join.

    As for SF, they are percieved in the mainland (and particularly in Scotland) as blood soaked terrorist thugs. No political party will touch them anymore than they would countenance a deal with the BNP. Make no mistake, SF are considered to be as desirable as the BNP. Since all the political parties have done deals with the Unionists however…

    Now the world moves on. McGuinness strikes me as someone who has seen the error at last of the old sectarian based republicanism as in indeed from the rejection of TUV have the majority of Unionists. Your reactionary old fashioned Dev type Ireland is now quite dead.

    Time to Move on.

  • dundonald voter

    one question for ian paisley junior. who will be the beggars and the choosers now? god help the dupes now under a cameron led government. will they forgive iris’s nine finger salute after one particular lobby? should we not have voted reggie in in south antrim at least we would have had some real power in westminister. not like the much hyped promise of the dupes. are they still waiting on the call from the tories? dont wait up jeffrey. (we point wait to you see how long cameron takes to do away with double jobbing, revenge for the nine finger salute!!)

  • Munsterview


    ‘……..You clearly haven’t followed much history since 1945…..’

    I have but you apparently have not or otherwise you would know that Britain have had dealt continually with what you referred to as ‘blood soaked tugs’ since then.

    The only way the British left Colony after Colony is when the Freedom Fighters of those Occupied Countries inflicted more bloodshed on the British Occupation Forces and administrative infrastructure than these same forces could inflict on them.

    By the time they were forced to quit these countries, such was the actions of the British Army and Officialdom that all moderate political forces that tried to deal with them had been so totally discredited by British double dealing and bad faith that only the Revolutionaries, no matter how bloody, had any credibility left with the local Populace.

    India, Cyprus Aden, Kenya, Uganda, Burma, Palestine etc, etc. In the interest of historical accuracy could you list all the Countries that Britain occupied at the end of the Second World War, and how many were vacated voluntary and peacefully?

    Or are you rewriting the history of these countries liberation struggels too?

    Who provided the bodies for the Troops Our Movement if not concerned Labour supporters. How many of the hundreds of thousands that marched against Blair’s mid East adventures would agree to holding on to the North if they got a choice.

    I have never made any secret of my past when attending History Conferences, in probably what you refer to as the Mainland, and neither will I avoid propagating the Republican viewpoint of history in exchange or debate. I have yet to meet one English Person who want to be in the North or have anything to do with it.

    It never ceases to amaze me how I can spend time in England and Scotland on a regular basis and hear constant opinions that are at such total variance with these pro union types that are constantly canvassed here as being ‘English or British’ views. In my personal experience they most definitely are not.

    Loyalism/Unionism to the average English person is an embarrassment and a reminder of aspects of Empire Throwbacks that most decent English would prefer to quietly forget and small blame to them for that!.

  • Alias

    ” I’m not sure Sinn Fein would be welcomed if their votes made the majority…”

    I doubt it. The UK has fostered a much lower standard for political parties in NI than it has for the rest of the UK. Expediency is encouraged to overrule principle for the natives but not for the English. After all, the British state stood steadfast on principle as it applied to constitutional sovereignty and duly put manners on said natives on that matter. Not that Irish state is much better: it wouldn’t have a Shinner about the place either (and not just because it knows they’re touts and there are issues of loyalty to the state involved). The only folks who accept members of sectarian murder gangs in power are the folks in NI who were bamboozled into accepting them.

  • Munsterview


    Martin Ferris who was arrested by the Southern Navy and Police, convicted in the Southern Courts and jailed in a Southern prison for bringing in a fishing trawler of guns is now an elected T.D. ( M.P. to you). What is more to take his seat he defeated Dick Spring a Government Minister that during his time in office had spend as much if not more money as any other Minister in their own areas.

    So we have a Government Minister who brought home the goodies consistently to his electoral area and an ex convicted gunrunner out of jail on early release going for election and the gunrunner is elected. Why?

    I took this extreme, I will not bother listing all the other T.D’s, County Councillors, Urban District Councillors, Town commissioners etc., not that it would do any good anyway. It is hardly surprising that most Northern Comrades give responding to Slugger a miss when people like you not only do not seem to learn anything but also seem incapable of learning anything from past or contemporary history.

    That last observation incidently was not intended to be an insult, merely a sad statement of fact!