Nick Watt of the Guardian is that rare thing in the Westminster lobby, a Sinn Fein watcher. Here he enters DUP territory with a flyer about what the DUP might do if they hold the balance of power in the next Parliament, with the Tories the largest single party. A little party was held in the No 10 garden just after a meeting about putting pressure on Libya to compensate Troubles. This story looks like Nick’s follow up to the Telegraph exclusive we noted. I’m afraid I’m no more excited about the follow up than the original. What are the DUP’s terms? What could Cameron give them that they could possibly want? More than more more, money? What can Red Ed offer in reply?
The subsequent reception in the garden, attended by the DUP’s MPs and Robinson, was held on the evening that Gerry Adams was arrested by police investigating the disappearance of Jean McConville in 1972.
The MPs were given the impression that Cameron was going out of his way to lay on the charm by allowing his children to play among the guests as drinks, including non-alcoholic ones for the teetotal drinkers, were served.
One senior DUP source told the Guardian: “It would be fair to say that a lot of wooing is going on. You don’t invite eight parliamentarians to such a reception and have the children playing round unless you are seriously interested.”
The DUP is drawing up the demands it would table as the price for supporting Cameron in the event of a hung parliament. The party is keen to use the opportunity to secure funding for pet projects.
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