There’s some serious guff coming out of London journalism at the moment with, surprisingly to me Matthew D’Acona being one of the worst offenders. But Stephen Bush has seen what most of his colleagues have blatantly missed:
Thanks to the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, “confidence votes” have been explicitly drawn to exclude votes on the Budget or the Queen’s Speech. A government only falls if it loses a vote of no confidence.
It no longer falls if it loses a major vote, a Budget vote or even the Queen’s Speech.
This obviously increases the leverage of the DUP – and Labour’s ability to harry the government day-to-day. The DUP can hold the government up, by backing them in confidence votes. But they can also let them down by deserting them on essentially everything else to secure bigger concessions from the Conservative Party.
Far from being trapped by the Conservatives, the DUP have more leverage over them than a minor party has ever enjoyed in a hung parliament before.
This is the strongest position any Irish party has had since the election of 1885. I’m not saying that to build the DUP up, I’m saying it because it’s true. Those critics of the DUP who are talking them down into stereotypes are ironically doing them a favour.
The damper the expectations, the easier it will be for the DUP to exceed them. Even, as Pete has noted, Gerry Adams has understood this is a swinging door and is doing his speaking from both corners of the mouth now even in the one statement.
“We don’t believe that any deal between the DUP here and the English Tories will be good for the people here.”
Then, later in the same statement:
“We never turn up our nose at good deals. Let’s wait until we see what sort of deal is done.”
It’s very typical of Adams to lodge a 10p each way double on the DUP delivering a rescue package without than spending a penny of his own political capital. But any bacon to come home will have the DUP’s name and brand stamped on it.
Meanwhile Arlene uses SF’s main slogan from last year’s Assembly election to pose a serious question to the Sinn Fein leader:
“If others decide that they are not coming back into the devolved administration here in Northern Ireland then those issues will have to be dealt with at Westminster,” she said. It is really for Sinn Féin to decide where they want those powers to lie.”
The time surely for cheap each way bets are over?
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty