Tuesday, 12 March 2013

New site!

To anyone who happens to come across the site when stumbling the wilderness of the Internet,

I've Moved :D

New tactical political analysis over at http://premiershippolitics.blogspot.co.uk/ :D

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Working on a new blog

Hey all, thanks for checking out my blog and reading my posts, but I've started writing for another site now http://www.politicalguerrilla.co.uk/

So if ya fancy hope on over and see all our lovely articles :D

Thursday, 9 June 2011

A DUP Sinn Fein Coalition Government?

Over the recent months there have been many changes and shifts that have altered the landscape of the political battleground, because of these it could be possible that Northern Ireland could see a Sinn Fein/DUP coalition Government.

As mentioned in the previous post on this blog, The DUP and Sinn Fein appear to have figured out a way of peaceful co-operation, which has been allowed to emerge thanks to the SNP victory in Scotland and the Republic's Economic problems. The nature of the relationship appears to be the the DUP will focus more on British Constitutional issues and handle Northern Irish Economics, while Sinn Fein focuses on Economic issue in the Republic and social issues in Northern Ireland, thus allowing both parties room to shine and opportunities to work together without unnecessary confrontations.

Because of this ability to work together despite the obvious ideological differences, this has not stopped the Minor Northern Irish parties, The UUP and SDLP, pushing for the apparatus for an official opposition. The only theory I can think would the UUP and SDLP believed that the DUP and Sinn Fein would be so wholly opposed to the idea of being left together in Coalition that that would offer the UUP/SDLP some concessions but instead found the DUP/Sinn Fein not very bothered by the prospect of working together.

Should the apparatus be allowed for voluntary coalition in Northern Ireland a Sinn Fein/DUP coalition could form which would have majority, an idea however would be to further marginalise their opponents by bringing the Alliance party into coalition to take the Justice ministry which could also help to maintain harmony within the New government by removing a potential fight between the two larger parties.

SNP Versus DUP: Round 1

In an earlier post on this blog I discussed how the SNP may have to face down the Unionist Power-house that is the DUP, and lo and behold following the tri-lateral meeting between the Devolved First Ministers Peter Robinson launches torpedo assault on Alex Salmond's plans to get Corporate tax Powers Devolved.
This opening barrage from the DUP head is not only significant in the coming issues surrounding UK constitutional debates but also perhaps shows how the new Northern Irish Assembly will operate.

Peter Robinson's very public criticism of Alex Salmond can be seen as a two-pronged assault on the Nationalist aspiration of Scotland's #1. First Robinson kicked the shins of Salmond's goal of corporation tax by pointing out that it would take a huge chunk out of the Scottish block grant and followed that up by explaining that the only reason Northern Ireland would be likely to receive some taxation powers was because they represent a 'Special Case' due to it being the only part of the UK that has a Non-UK neighbour in the form of the Republic of Ireland and that it's history of conflict having negatively affected infrastructure development.
In essence Peter Robinson told Alex Salmond that if he wanted powers he needed a new neighbour and 30+ years of sectarian violence rather than occasional outburst at an Old Firm game.

But what is perhaps more interesting is what we can glean about how the main Northern Irish parties have adapted post-Vote 2011.

The DUP have decided to slowly change their identity from the old-school catch all Unionism to a Low-Tax Pro-Business party while maintaining their Unionist tendencies, which can be seen in their Executive seat choices of Finance and Enterprise, Sinn Fein have realised that if they are to build on their success in the south they can not be seen as the party that rejects cuts in the republic but delivers them in the North and sop have allowed the DUP to focus on Finance while they take on more social roles, which can be seen in the fact they took education and culture and that while Peter Robinson took on Salmond on Tax, McGuinness focused on sectarianism.

This is perhaps a way that Sinn Fein and the DUP have realised how they can operate in Government without having to constantly try to score points against each other, The DUP can focus on the SNP and British Economic Problems while Sinn Fein can focus on Irish Economic Matters and altering their image in the Republic. By doing so, they can avoid stepping on each others toes and can work together when their goals match.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Alex Salmond Versus Peter Robinson

Vote 2011 has left us with a new Champion of Nationalism in the form of Alex Salmond backed by a SNP majority in the Scottish Parliament but Unionism not to be out-done has brought Peter Robinson to the front of a DUP charge in Northern Ireland.



















With the SNP success in Scotland many pundits have been talking about what this means for the UK and how David Cameron will now have to deal with the an empowered Salmond. To be fair Salmond does have a list of demands already at hand for the Coalition of Westminster; Corporation tax powers, borrowing powers, control over the crwon estate commission in Scotland and a referendum on Scotland's Independence from the UK.
But Cameron is the Final boss of the Game, the Bid bad at the top of the Castle with an army of Tory henchmen surrounding him. To get the powers he wants Salmond may soon find the SNP facing down the DUP.
Reading this there may be some confusion considering that the SNP is in Scotland and the DUP are in Northern Ireland still buried in the constant Battle Royal that is Stormont Politics. But consider the Liberal Democrats following Vote 2011. The have been outright decimated across the board and there are rumbling of either Clegg stepping down or the Liberal Democrats leaving the Coalition and offering support on a vote by vote basis.
Should the Coalition split the Conservatives will want to shore up some more support among the other parties and who is the fourth largest party in Westminster?

That's right the DUP.

So to ensure the support for the Coalition so as not to face the polls with a SNP enjoying huge support in Scotland and threatening to further imbalance Parliament the DUP will be the prime target as they will hopefully bring the other NI parties with them.

Unionists will then be the Crux of the SNP and this is where Alex Salmond then faces his biggest problem.

The SNP have not had to face down a Die-Hard Unionist party in this Generation, they have been taking on the three Westminster parties whose Unionism is occasionally wheeled out, mainly to annoy the SNP. The DUP on the other hand are the perpetual opponents of Sinn Fein, undoubtedly the most Die-hard ideologically of the Nationalist parties and the SDLP one of the most experienced Nationalist parties in terms of government and negotiation.

The rise of the SNP also presents a unique opportunity for the DUP, with the Mandatory Coalition and a generally good relationship with Sinn Fein in Stormont, the DUP are in need of a target to maintain their momentum with the Electorate for the next Euro elections without causing themselves problems in Stormont the SNP nationalist 'threat' presents a target for the DUP, with the added benefits of allowing the DUP to say they are engaging in UK-wide politics rather than just being NI-Centric.

I would pay good money to see the re-energised Peter Robinson and Alex Salmond in a TV debate on the UK's constitutional future.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Vote 2011 - Party Results and Leader Analysis

The Election across the UK have now finished, AV has been beaten into the ground, Scotland has it's first majority Government and one party faced what could only be described as all-out destruction.. so now that the dust is settling how did all the multitude of parties do and what of their Leaders?

Conservatives

The Senior Partner of the ConDem Coalition had a somewhat unusual electoral period. Their peculiar results were an odd mix of bad and good across the Isle of Great Britain (their NI council results aren't known yet)

England - Across the English Councils the Tory Party found itself with a net gain of 81 new councillors, this crop of new councillors brought gifts however, in the shape of overall control of 4 councils. An unusual result as the Tories are a party in Government and were expecting a bloody nose. The results would suggest that the Liberal Democrats were the political equivalent of a yellow Flak jacket for the party of Blue.

Scotland - The Westminster party lost a quarter of it's Holyrood seats during the SNP charge. Some pundits are already questioning the future of the Scottish Tories as a credible fore in Scotland, but the Prime Minister will be gearing up to clash with Salmond and will need his small band of Scot-Tories to help chip away at the SNP.

Wales - Net gains of 2 in the Welsh Assembly have allowed the Conservatives to ascend to Second place with the Welsh Assembly. Unfortunately the loss of their Leader due to their own success was a bit of a blow and the rise of Welsh Labour has taken any chance of a Rainbow Coalition.

David Cameron - The Prime Minister may have been able to walk away with a score of 3 (AV, England, Wales) out of a possible 4 win he could take back to Tory HQ, but faced with a parliamentary secure Alex Salmond and a likely despondent Liberal Democrat Party he will face some further hurdles in the year ahead.

Labour

Labour's results were as mixed as the Tories, not least because of their divided stance on the issue of AV.

England - 800 new councillors bolstered Labour's ranks and 26 councils came with them, so a good haul for the party of opposition. The Labour Party made light work of the Liberal Democrats showing the Junior Coalition partner what a big party could do.

Scotland - A disappointing Scottish election for the Labour party in what should be a heartland. The rise of Salmond to overall control of Scotland has forced Iain Grey to resign and the party found themselves down 7 seats at the end of the night. A charismatic leader will be needed to engage with Salmond, and they'd better find one quick.

Wales - Carwyn Jones and the Welsh Labour Party took half the seats in the Welsh Assembly a definite win for them but will it be enough to keep control of Wales. Initial reports suggest they are going to try and enter some sort of agreement with another party, whether that will be another Coalition remains to be seen.

Ed Miliband - 'Red Ed' can not really claim the election as a win for himself at the end of the Day, he backed AV, which failed, He made the Scottish Election about Westminster, which backfired, In England he ripped apart a weak Liberal Democrat Party and in Wales most of the leadership was done by First Minister Jones..so while mixed for the Labour Party 'Red Ed' may still be in trouble.

Liberal Democrats

Bloody, Broken, Beaten, Destroyed, Hammered, Demolished or Annihilated.. the list of ways to describe the Liberal Democrat performance is longer than this and any blog post in history could handle.

England - Almost 700 councillors and 9 councils were lost, the Liberal Democrats, torn apart by an electorate who quickly withdrew to the Labour and Conservative camps, have been decimated in England. It could take many years for the Lib Dems to recover their seats, though the Green now seems to be the new yellow.

Scotland - A double hitter as the Scot-Libdems lose 12 seats and their Leader Tavish Scott hands in his resignation, blaming the Coalition for the losses as he goes.

Wales - For three election the Liberal Democrats maintained 6 seats, now they only have 5, a glimmer of hope remains that labour will choose them as a Welsh Coalition partner which may redeem them in the Welsh Electorate's eyes.

Nick Clegg - 'King-Maker Clegg' may have to make a choice, stay in coalition but give up leadership or head to opposition and hope for the best. Disappointing.

Scottish National Party (SNP)

The SNP are perhaps on e of the biggest winner in this election. Gaining overall control of Scotland was no easy feat but somehow Alex Salmond managed it. The SNP will now have to be careful, there is no easy excuse like that available to them as a minority government and they will have to be smart in dealing with Prime Minister Cameron, but a very weaken and in 2/3 of cases leaderless opposition will make the SNP start of term a bit easier.

Alex Salmond - The First Minster now has overall control of Scotland, but his determination for Independence may cause him problems, especially with David Cameron as his main opponent who has not only been unscathed by the election but perhaps even in a stronger position despite the loss of a few Scottish seats.

Plaid Cymru

The Welsh Nationalists have lost their number 2 place to the Tories after losing four seats and in the elections that saw Scottish Nationalism rise the Welsh Nationalist will have to consider their future, and elect a new Deputy Leader.

Ieuan Wyn Jones - The Plaid Cymru Leader may be at the end of his reign, he brought his party into government as a Junior Coalition partner and like the Lib Dems he paid a price for it.

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)

The DUP are one of the big winners in these election, they may have only gained two seats but their party and leader have recovered from a somewhat disappointing performance last year.

Peter Robinson - Alex Salmond isn't the only Leader to be elevated by the election, First Minster Robinson has been received as the new Champion of Unionism for his positive and well fought campaign and considering what his position was like last year it is a startling turn around.

Sinn Fein

Sinn Fein only managed a gain of one seat and have considered this somewhat disappointing as they could have achieved more but for some mistake in their vote management strategy.

Martin McGuinness - Mr McGuinness will continue his role as Deputy First Minister but may face an annoyance from the newly elected Jim Allister

Ulster Unionist Party (UUP)

The UUP found themselves down two seats and their leader followed that up by calling some people with flags 'scum'

Tom Elliot -Mr Elliot saw orange after the election and attacked Sinn Fein supporters, his position as leader will most likely depends on whether or not he take the UUP into opposition.

Social Democratic Labour Party (SDLP)

The SDLP found themselves Down two seats as well like the UUP and find themselves pondering leaving the executive

Margaret Ritchie - The newly crowned SDLP leader may be already in trouble of having to consider her position.

Alliance

The Alliance Party made a gain and may get an executive seat, but trouble lies ahead in regards to the justice ministry and a rather annoyed UUP.

David Ford- Mr. Ford will have to take care when handling the exectuive seat hand-out but otherwise is doing well.

Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV)

The party that some said may split open Unionism only managed to scrape one seat and essentially replaced the PUP as the minority Unionist Party. Their future will be in serious doubt.

Jim Allister - Unable to actually achieve the quota, Mr Allister will have a rough entrance into the Assembly, his only hope is that the UUP go into opposition and want his help to attack the DUP/Sinn Fein

Green

The green maintained in Northern Ireland and gained a seat in Scotland along with a batch of new councillors they had a very successful election though they have yet to break into the Welsh scene in a meaningful way.

They have several leaders who will all take a little something from this election.

United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP)

Failings in strategy led to no gains across the board for UKIP.

Nigel Farage - Nigel can only hope to build on the votes he got and take them forward to the next Euro Election.

British National Party (BNP)

One of the losers of the Election, the BNP lost a large number of councillors and made no gain in the Celtic fringe.

Nick Griffin - The BNP was in trouble before the election and seems to be circling the drain.



Conclusion - Alex Salmond and Peter Robinson are the big winners, Red Ed and King-maker Clegg are going to have to step up if they want to stay in the game.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

UKIP, The New Third Party?

Recently at the UKIP Conference, newly re-elected leader Nigel Farage stated that after coming second in the Barnsley Central By-election, that UKIP's goal was to claim third place from the Liberal Democrats.

While the goal is ambitious I fear it may be over-reaching for UKIP for a number of reasons;

1) While UKIP achieved fourth in number of votes cast at the 2010 General Election, they trail the Liberal Democrats by 6 million (They can't all be students) which would take a huge effort to replicate in 2015 for UKIP

2) In terms of Commons seats UKIP ranks 13th on the League table (table includes speaker) having no seats but having the highest number of votes for a party with none. To take third from the Liberal Democrats would require a gain of 58 seats for UKIP (assuming Libdems didn't lose any)

3) UKIP holds no seats in the Devolved Celtic Fringe. The Liberal Democrats have 16 in Scotland, 5 in Wales and if you include their Sister party, Alliance, 7 in Northern Ireland.

4) UKIP holds supposedly 23 seats in councils across the UK the liberal Democrats currently sit on 4011


Realistically UKIP should attempt to become the Legitimate fourth party of the UK and try to break the Lib Dems place as sole Kingmaker in Parliament. To do this here is what I suggest;

1) UKIP should target seats in the Celtic Fringe, They did manage to achieve one of the four Welsh European seats in 2009 and in 2007 they came 6th in terms of party results (7th overall if including Trish Law) so perhaps Wales would be the place to get some Celtic Seats.
A potentially interesting side note is that due to the electoral system of Wales, Labour may end of one or two seats short of overall majority, perhaps presenting a new option besides the LibDems or Plaid Cymru for Labour to enter Coalition with.

In Northern Ireland, UKIP though running their own Candidates could perhaps strike some sort of deal with the TUV who they have a good relationship with (Offers opportunity to develop a Unionist link-up that if succeeds provides ammo to use against the Conservatives following the disaster of UCU-NF)

2) A Huge effort should go into the Council election that are also happening at the same time as the Celtic elections (English and Northern Irish Council election) a term that was used during the Irish General election was 'Gene-Pool'. The UKIP genetic soup is somewhat limited to a small crop of 12 MEPs and cache of councillors. As a target for councillors in May I would suggest 120, or to put it another way, larger than the DUP. They are the current 4th place holders with 8 Westminster Seats and have 4 Lords as opposed to UKIP's 2.

3) Should AV pass UKIP should attempt to develop some kind of transfer arrangement with smaller parties to try and break the big three deadlock (TUV in Northern Ireland would be prime candidate off the bat)

4) Aim for between 15-20 MEPs in the 2014 European elections. Euro elections are UKIP's bread and butter and they need to try and achieve a more solid second place (they tied with Labour last time around) Not only would it be a huge achievement for UKIP but would also increase their Gene-pool (God I love using that term) for the General election in 2015 as any MEPs hoping to hop houses would have had a lot of publicity within a year of going to the polls again.

Should everything go well UKIP could see themselves in a prime position to enter the House of Commons, but in the time between now and then a millions things could happen.

Any thoughts? leave a comment