Thursday, 23 December 2010

What if Proportional Representation had been used in the 2010 UK General Election?

With the vote in the commons and hopefully (for the Lib Dems) referendum on switching to the AV system for elections some are calling that it does not go far enough.

But as question that is the title of this post asks... what if PR had been used in 2010?

Well as PR is based on percentage of the vote won I'd best give the result for those who would qualify assuming that 1% was required to win seats.

Conservative - 36.1% (36)
Labour - 29%
Lib Dem - 23%
UKIP - 3.1%
BNP - 1.9%
SNP - 1.7%
Green - 1%
Total - 95.8% of vote qualifies for seats

Seats (based on %)
Conservative - 234.65
Labour - 188.5
Lib Dem - 149.5
UKIP - 20.15
BNP - 12.35
SNP - 11.05
Green - 6.5
Total 622.7

Time for a Question within a Question, when deciding actual seats, do I simply count every actual seat won and ignore point places or do I round up and down accordingly

1)If I were to ignore decimal places for seats the final result would be

Con - 234
Lab - 188
Lid - 149
UKIP - 20
BNP - 12
SNP - 11
Gre - 6
Result - 620 seats - Hung Parliament - Cons lacking 77 seats for majority of 1

Almost poetically this result means that a Lib/Lab coalition would have been numerically possible as they would equal 337

2)If however I were to round up we get another we round up the percent of votes cast for everyone? Then a party would need 0.5% of the vote to qualify for a percent of the seats.

2a) if we take it that a party need 1% to qualify for seats but then were rounded up

Cons - 36.1% - 36% - 234
Lab - 29% - 29% - 188
Lib - 23% - 23% - 149
UKIP - 3.1% - 3% - 19.5 seats = 20
BNP - 1.9% - 2% - 13
SNP - 1.7% - 2% - 13
Gre - 1% - 1% - 6.5 seats = 7
Total seats - 624 - Hung Parliament - Cons lack 79 seats for majority of 1

Really only slight differences to bottom of the table that increase the number of seats and the number of seats needed for a majority.

2b) If rounding up as used throughout the whole process 3 more parties would qualify for seats

Sinn Fein - 0.6% of Vote
DUP - 0.6% of Vote
Plaid Cymru - 0.6% of Vote

Each would be rounded up to 1% and would then qualify for the same 7 seats as the Greens meaning the final table with rounding would look something like this;

Con - 234
Lab - 188
Lib - 149
UKIP - 20
BNP - 13
SNP - 13
Gre - 7
DUP - 7
Sinn - 7
Cym - 7

Total Seats - 645 - Hung Parliament - 323 needed for majority

These seat numbers are of course based on the idea that the Commons remained at 650 going into the election. It would most likely have to be decided how many seats would be in the commons prior to any election.

What I find most interesting is just how close the Lib Dems and Labour really are.

So hopefully this has given you an idea on how the current parliament would have looked like had PR been used.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Vince Cable on way out?

This Business Secretary Vince Cable was recorded by undercover journalists from the Telegraph claiming that he had declared War on the NewsCorp Empire and that if he felt the coalition was moving to far away from his beliefs would use his 'Nuclear Option' and resign from Government and bring the coalition down around him.

By declaring unilateral war on Rupert Murdoch and (kinda)publicly revealing his Nuclear option, he has not only lost the powers he planned to use against Murdoch but also had his Nuclear option disarmed. The accusations have now begun from Labour that Cable has retained his Cabinet position simply to prop up the coalition and keep the Social Democratic wing of the Lib Dems happy.

But why is Vince still on the Cabinet?

Labour's idea that Cable has been retained to keep the Lib Dems happy isn't that far-fetched, He is after all one of the highest profile Lib Dems that their small parliamentary group has. Keeping him, though unpopular, keeps the Lib Dems from being overshadowed by the Tories.

However stripped of his powers to act in the BSkyB takeover has made Vince Cable a bit of a lame duck, his credibility, in using the powers afforded to his position as Business Secretary, is severely damaged. But perhaps Vince is simply being kept on the cabinet to keep the seat warm over the holidays as the Coalition hope to bring David Laws back onto the Coalition frontline.

David Laws is a Lib Dem who resigned from government due to issues with his expenses, however he has managed to avoid the expenses stigma due to the unceremonial reveal of his sexuality as collateral that accompanied his expense account. With a career as an investment banker backing his CV he would be a Prime Candidate to move onto the Business Portfolio.

For Vince Cable, he knows that being asked to leave the Cabinet would be his own fault, but how would he find being pushed to the backbenches with Lib Dems unhappy with the coalition's policies?

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Gerry Adams Heading South

As the run up to the Irish General election expected somewhere in February or March begins, we have had two stories develop before Christmas. First the formation of the United Left Alliance, a grouping of a few of the smaller parties of the Left from the Republic and the news that Gerry Adams, President of Sinn Fein, will be running for the Dail.

This sudden departure from the Politics of Northern Ireland to contest elections in the South has raised a few question marks and I hope to put forward a few possibilities as to why I think he may be departing.

1) Leading the Charge - Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland has established itself as the Second party. With just about 25% of the seats in the Assembly and being able to maintain 5 MPs despite the threat of Unionist Unity Sinn Fein has established itself a nice Stronghold. Now with the Political upheaval as the support for Fianna Fail Collapse in opinion polls as they push through severe austerity measures, Sinn Fein hope to be able to do damage. The current Sinn Fein Dail Group however lacks any of the strength of their brethren to the North so they need someone with the standing of Gerry Adams to help secure as many seats as possible.

2) He's the Boss - As the Leader of Sinn Fein he, though hopefully not by choice, weakens the authority of Martin McGuinness, The Deputy First Minister, by sitting behind him in the Assembly. This is an issue as Sinn Fein hope to become the Largest Party in Northern Ireland due to the possible Unionist civil war that might be brewing in the lead up to the 2011 Assembly election, so Gerry Adams departure helps remove the idea Martin McGuinness being a Puppet First Minister.

3) The TUV - It is likely based on their electoral performances that the TUV will win a seat if not seats in the coming election. As they are wholly anti-power sharing and refer to Sinn Fein as Sinn Fein/IRA as easily as breathing, Gerry Adam's departure shrinks the target at which any incoming TUV MLAs can take aim at.

4) A Last Hoorah - Gerry Adams is 72, so it is likely that his Career is in it's final stage. Rather than simply fade away in the backbenches of Stormont, he has decided to take on the Dail and hopefully bring success to Sinn Fein to help them be established as a

What effect Adams' Departure will have on the Politics of Northern and the Republic of Ireland is anyones guess, but needless to say 2011 will be an interesting year.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

ConDem 2011?

With the Conservative/Liberal Democrat surviving a rebellion by either side it is safe to assume that until 2015 the Westminster Coalition will survive, the question is, could the ConDem's take the Westminster show on the road to Cardiff and Edinburgh?

The answer... kinda?

In Scotland a party needs 65 seats for a majority and in Wales 30 seats is needed for control. At the moment neither has a Single party government majority with the SNP governing as a Minority administration and Wales being run by a Labour/Plaid Cymru Coalition.

In the spirit of prediction we will assume that the seats shall remain the same after the election in 2011, with anti-Labour sentiment from Brown and anti-Condem sentiment cancelling each other out and the Nationalists being unable to really gain as they to are Governing parties.

In Scotland the brand new Scottish ConDem bloc would hold 32 seats in the Scottish Parliament, just short of halfway of forming a ConDem Scottish administration. Sadly the SNP and Labour are just as likely to hit themselves in the face with large shovels than enter into Coalition with the ConDems.

In Wales however there is hope, Plaid at the last election tried to make a 'Rainbow Coalition' with all the other Welsh parties but for whatever reason failed and chose instead to be the Junior Partner in a Lab Cymru Coalition. But with the ConDems on 19 seats and Plaid with 14/15 (the presiding officer has always been Plaid) they would command at least 33 seats and therefore be able to form Government.

But why would Plaid side with the ConDems when the SNP won't?

Historically in all 3 of the Assemblys since 1999 the Welsh Assembly was ruled alone by or in a coalition led by Labour, who were also the party in Power in Westminster.
The obvious advantages to having the backing of Westminster may be what sways Plaid to push again for their 'Rainbow Coalition'. Backed by the ConDems, Plaid would have the power to push their legislation, helping the Condems by forcing Labour even further into the Political Wilderness of Opposition.

Of course this is all speculation based on the idea of a no seat change result in 2011. With Students likely to punish Lib Dems at any opportunity, they are quite likely to see a hit in their seat numbers which may make ConDem blocs impractical, especially if Labour pick up the Lib Dems seats and take overall control of Wales.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Tuition Fee Crisis - The Liberal Democrats Fallout...

Today (9/12/10) saw the vote in the House of Commons on the controversial Tuition fees rise for Universities in England and the day almost half the Liberal Democrats rebelled...

In the end 28 Lib Dem MPs voted for, 21 voted against, 6 abstained and 2 were at the climate summit in Mexico... On paper the result is simple 28 Lib Dems backed the Coalition, 27 went against it (albeit in different ways) and 2 will have the pleasure of being able to say they were not involved in. This rebellion also saw Lib Dem MPs Mike Crockart and Jenny Willott resign their unpaid Junior ministerial positions.

But what next? Other than a guarantee of more student action there is many possibilities yet few certainties as to what the fallout of this rebellion will be, but here are some ideas...

1) Seats at the Table - Although an unpaid position these Junior Position will become a scrap to be fought over after this rebellion, Will the rebels be replaced by Lib Dems again? if so we could see Clegg Loyalists being rewarded for sticking with the coalition, if not the newly promoted Conservative Junior ministers will serve as a symbolic smack to the Lib Dems, the message clear, Rock the boat and you will lose out...

2) The Old Guard - Both Former Lib Dem leaders Sir Menzies Campbell and Charles Kennedy voted against the plans and this could further upset the Clegg Leadership, with the Old leaders set firmly against him, he will be held up as a symbol for the 'Corruption' that has taken hold of the Lib Dem leadership, Which although bad for Clegg and his Loyalists could help mitigate losses in the 2011 Assembly/Local elections where Lib Dems will be able to position themselves as Anti-Clegg to help save themselves.

3) A Matter of Time - At this point I think it is only a matter of time before a defection or mass defection bites the Lib Dems. If there is a defection it will be interesting to see what road any would be deserters would take. Simply leaving the Government and sitting as an Independent Lib Dem could be an option, but it would most likely lead to the party revoking membership to save face. Jumping ship to Labour could be an option and would definitely raise the profile of any backbench Lib Dem. if there Defector wanted to avoid the Big three, jumping to the Greens might be a good idea and perhaps give them a PR boost that they could parley into more Devolved seats especially in Wales where they have none. The most extreme option would be to jump to a very small party, depending on where any defector is based this could be anyone from Mebyon Kernow if in Cornwall, to the Liberals, to any of the parties of the Left situated around the UK. Sitting as the only independent probably wont be an appealing prospect to any MP.

4) Backlash - With the Government majority of 83 shrunk to 21 expect the Conservatives to be quite annoyed at their Junior Partner's inability to keep their own house in order, especially with the current situation with the Governing Coalition of Ireland whose problems have been magnified as all of Europe scrutinises them. This could potentially see some Lib Dems gains of being in the coalition held back or denied entirely, as making the Lib Dems seem less relevant would help both Labour and the Tories destroy their 'King-maker' position

5) Firing Line - if you thought Labour's constant attack on the Lib Dems was too much, prepare to be snowed under as absolutely every other party in the House of Commons will be taking every opportunity to take a shot at the Lib Dems (as evidenced by the DUP's Nigel Dodds question during PMQs where he likened the Lib Dems to FIFA)
It is simply to close to Assembly election for any party with any sort of representation to resist being able to score the easy political points by publically humiliating the Lib Dems.

Only in the coming months where the Lib Dems prepare for the numerous elections around the UK will the exact Fallout of this rebellion be felt, Clegg may have had the support of 27 other MPs today but that may be all he's left with regardless of how the Lib Dems do next year as more and more turn away from his deal with Cameron.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

The TUV, The next Stormont Opposition?

As the start of the Election Cycle for the Assembly Governments approach, what role could the TUV play in the next Stormont Assembly?

Within the Power-Sharing Coalition system of the Northern Irish Assembly there is no Official Opposition but next year it could just get one in the form of the TUV. As the five largest parties are almost guaranteed at least one seat thanks to the d'hondt with the Alliance party being given the Justice Department to keep the peace it is doubtful that the TUV which is most likely to become the sixth largest party next year will either qualify nor want to take a seat within the power sharing agreement.

Like it or not any TUV MLAs will take an oppositional role to the Executive challenging them not only on the inclusion of what they view as Sinn Fein/IRA in the power sharing deal but also the system of forced coalition to begin with.

Another interesting aspect is that if the DUP remain the head of the Executive (in the respect of side) is that we could see a Unionist headed Coalition up against a small but vocal Unionist Opposition.

This is of course speculative, the TUV may collapse in the vote as they did during the general elections, perhaps being seen as too extreme to be introduced into the Stormont eco-system.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Liberal Democrats, Bottom of the Food Chain?

Reported today by the BBC ( the Leader of the Green Party, Caroline Lucas MP, is making overtures to rebels within the Liberal Democrats. The Greens, who polled half the the votes the BNP got and only a quarter of that scored by UKIP, are in an interesting position when it comes to poaching possible defectors thanks to their single seat within the House of Commons, making them seem like a realistic haven for any rebels.

The Liberal Democrats themselves are a funny bunch, Drifting from the centre to the left of the political spectrum the 57 Lib Dems could potentially defect to a vast array of parties that would be happy to get some representation in the Commons or score points against the Tories junior partner.

The Green Party - Caroline Lucas' elevation to MP was considered one of the historic moments of the 2010 General Election, but with only one seat and failure to take control of Norwich City Council from Labour, it seems that the Green's momentum is starting to dissipate. Managing to snag a Lib Dem rebel would not only be a blow to the Coalition, but also provide Caroline Lucas with a PR bonanza as the Greens could legitimately market themselves as a true alternative to the Big Three and hopefully have some Lib Dems supporters follow their rebel MP.

The Liberal Party - Seen by the Lib Dems as a splinter group but in their eyes they are the remnant and true heirs to the Liberal Party of old. Should a Lib Dem defect to the Liberals, other than providing their first (or first in a long time) seat in the Commons, could be a huge problem as the Liberal can argue to embody what the Lib Dems gave up going into government with the Conservatives.

SNP/Plaid - Any Scottish or Welsh Lib Dems always have the option to catch the nationalist bug and the Celtic Bloc would love to be in a better position to criticise the cuts the Coalition will be sending to their respective Devolved bodies.

English Democrats/Mebyon Kernow - the Nationalists that aren't so fortunate when it comes to the polls would likely relish the chance to get some representation, even if it is just for one parliament. The advertisement it would be for their parties could help them build their support bases by making their parties seem like a credible option in the eyes of the voter who believes that a vote outside the Big Three is wasted.

Labour - Joining Labour is always the option for rebels seeking safety in numbers and with Labour standing to benefit from the Coalition Financial hatchet-men, it make sense to jump ship to those who are likely to reap the benefits come the next elections.

In the end it all really comes down to where any rebels fall in terms of policies and who they feel they can retain their seat with. I focused this post on the lib dems defecting because with the current situation the Lib dems seem the most disillusioned with their place in the political narrative and the idea of creating a big splash by defecting to a previously non-existant political power could put them high up in any small party's heirarchy.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

The Shadow Labour Cabinet Tactical Assessment

With the Labour Conference drawing nearer, Labour will soon have it's new leader but also the Parliamentary Labour Party will choose which MPs the New Leader will get to form their Shadow Cabinet.

Obviously with a Leadership contest on, this could mean that whoever wins will have to form a Cabinet including all 4 of their defeated Rivals. But would these Leadership contenders be an asset or a hindrance to the Leader of the Opposition.

Andy Burnham - When it comes to the Former Health Secretary let's be honest, he hasn't a hope of becoming Leader and I think he knows it, He will hope to use his participation in the Leadership contest to ensure his place in the Shadow Cabinet, though he may find himself with a low profile portfolio. Asset to the New leader as the Leadership contest has raised his profile making him more recognisable to the Public.

Ed Miliband - The Former Energy Secretary, though one of the more likely winners of the Leadership contest he is almost guaranteed a place in the shadow cabinet with his popularity among Labour supporters. For anyone but David Miliband, Ed will probably be cast a very long shadow over the leader with his High Profile, If David wins the Leadership however expect to see Ed with a High Profile Portfolio, possibly even the foreign brief.

Diane Abbott - Unlikely to win the leadership but may place well due to the voting system in place, if she can parley her popularity into a Shadow Cabinet seat it would be a create win for the Labour Left. Her Career and leadership bid are based around her being outside the established Labour, being part of the Shadow Cabinet she could be a problem for any Leader due to her more maverick nature. Likely to be given the Equality brief depending on if Yvette Cooper is still in the Shadow Cabinet if Ed Balls wins, whether her would move his wife. On the plus side she has a very high profile with the public thanks to her numerous television appearances.

Ed Balls - Ed Balls looks likely to become the next economics powerhouse of the Labour Party, it has already been suggested that he a David Miliband have an agreement which would install Mr Balls in the Shadow Chancellorship though he would also be useful in education where he already crippled Education Gove in the first weeks of the Coalition government over the School's list with battering attacks. Likely to be an Asset to any Leader in regards to his combative ability which he has maintained even while running a leadership Campaign. Though he will is likely yo be a stubborn force within the Shadow Cabinet much like Brown was for Blair in government.

David Miliband - If neither Miliband win expect David to considered a serious threat to whosoever occupies the Leadership, He was the one pushed to topple Brown and any leader will face huge difficulties in trying to give David a portfolio which is not Frontline. David would most likely wish to hold onto his foreign brief where he already has experience and a good reputation on the International Stage. Though a potential threat his High Profile is an asset to the opposition and the threat of him may act as encouragement for the New Leader to work harder.

The Shadow Cabinet will be without Jack Straw and Alistair Campbell who have both decided to withdraw to the back Benches, and the Labour Party have guaranteed that at least six women will be in the shadow Cabinet. Harriet Harman will remain as Deputy leader obviously, but will Ed Balls' wife Yvette Cooper make the cut?

Monday, 30 August 2010

If the UK Broke Apart...

Within the components of the UK there are a vast array of differing opinion when it comes to issues like the Union, Devolution and Independence...

So let's pose a hypothetical (It's what is done on this blog mainly), It's September 1st 2010 (tomorrow from when i'm writing) and after an emergency meeting the night before between the cabinet and the devolved executive bodies it has been decided that the UK will break up..what now?

As an added feature in respect of it's Celtic heritage, Cornwall is an additional part along with Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England.

Outcome 1) Five Nations: Every part of the former UK decides to become a fully independent state;

Scotland would most likely retain the Monarchy and would probably be able to draw in investment with it's status as a source of Oil, though the Scottish Economy would most likely be the strongest of the Celtic Nations leaving the UK

Wales may retain the Monarch but may also shift to a President (an Idea would be to ask that the title of Prince of Wales pass to Prince Harry to separate the Monarchy), It would have to reinvest heavily in tourism, Light manufacturing and agriculture to rebalance it's economy

Cornwall may install the Duchy of Cornwall as it's head of state (though again an idea would be to ask that it passes to Prince Harry so as to separate the Duchy from the Monarchy) Cornwall's economy would be reliant on tourism but as they already qualify for EU poverty funding money would be entering the Cornish economy to stimulate an independent Cornish economy (NOTE: Relies on Cornwall Remaining in EU)

Northern Ireland, due to it's current Unionist Majority would not reunite with the republic, It's economy would face a huge problem with rebalancing and moving away from the public sector, Reinvestment in Engineering and Heavier Industries would be it's safest move due to the and educational strength in those fields, The Monarchy may not be kept by Northern Ireland and perhaps they would install their own President as a concession to Irish republicans.

England would most likely benefit with it's economy already being the 18th highest GDP PPP and no longer having to cover the Celtic Nations, It would also enjoy a stronger position in Foreign affairs thanks to this and it's size in comparison to the Celtic Nations, The Monarch would most likely remain as England alone would provide a large Tory majority (using current seats)

2)Patchwork Unions: This outcome would see the establishment of 4 entities existing within the British Isles.

a)England (see previous outcome for economical)
c)United Ireland
d)Welsh/Cornish Union

England and Scotland would be viable enough economically to survive on their own and thus may not see any benefit to Uniting with any of the others.

United Ireland would make geographical sense and with the promise of greater influence Ulster Unionists may see it as their best bet to reshape the Northern Irish economy.

Welsh/Cornish Alliance although perhaps a surprising idea would make sense in soem regards, Both are fishing nations, Rely partially on tourism and quite geographically close, could also see the development of a strengthen small boat industry with travel between the two.

Perhaps an Unlikely outcome but plausible

3)England and the Celtic Union: As the name suggests this outcome would see the formation of a Celtic Union with England remaining on it's own.

The Celtic Union would most likely be formed with all the former UK Celtic countries and the Republic of Ireland, With the Republic of Ireland and Scotland being the dominant economic powers. This would also allow Northern Ireland to Unite with the rest of Ireland without ceasing to exist. Although a Celtic Union would most likely run on a Federal system it would likely require some economic aid from Scotland and the republic of Ireland to help rebalance the other Celtic economies. The Monarchy would most likely be replaced by a President, either within a new office or simply expanding the Role of the Irish President to encompass all the Celtic Union.

This outcome would be more likely as it would provide the Celtic Union a bit more clout in Foreign Affairs and offer a fresh debate on EU membership.

4)The Ulster-Scot Union, Welsh/Cornish bloc and England

A slight tweak to the 'Patchwork Unions' outcome in that Northern Ireland would join with Scotland due to their similarities culturally and a generally very close relationship, would again require Scotland to help Northern Ireland rebalance it's economy

There are many different possibilities for potential outcomes, What do you think?

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Slow Death of The PUP

The UVF linked Progressive Unionist Party has over the last few months seen it's Heavyweights slowly drift away from the Party.

First Dawn Purvis the Leader and the only PUP Assembly member left following the killing of Bobby Moffett on the Shankhill Road in Belfast, which was blamed on the UVF. Now David Rose who is a member of the Policing Board has also left after 'Reflection' following the murder and citing that the party was drifting in the direction of Being Conservative.

The PUP is not one of the major players in the Northern Irish Political Landscape, finding most of their support in Belfast among working class voters. However this slow bleed of the Party's heavyweights presents an opportunity for one of the Main UK Parties.

The PUP are supposed to be a Left/centre-Left party but if it is true that they are drifting to the right Labour are being presented with a potential seat in the Assembly. Dawn Purvis still holds her seat and considering the fact she was the leader of a party at one point it is possible she shall retain her seat next year.

If she can be convinced to sign up with Labour it could be viewed as a huge coup for Labour in gaining seats ahead of the Tories whose main allies, the UUP, are running a leadership election with two candidates both expressing anti-Link views effectively killing the UCUNF experiment on the eve of the Link-ups first assembly election.

Though Labour would only have one seat it would provide them with an Experienced Northern Irish politician in a position outside the Executive which would give them a greater platform to try and create a more Labour Friendly Northern Ireland come the Next General Election.

One aspect labour would have consider is the direction their new leader takes them in, a centre-left Blairite catch all labour would face problems from not only Unionism, which is neither left or right, Nationalists, who have socialist DNA but also Fianna Fail, a centre left catch all party just starting to set up shop as well.

A Left Labour may be able to find a niche in Belfast and a deal with the SDLP could put extra pressure on Sinn Fein and the DUP with a party who have clout in both Northern Ireland and the UK as a whole.

As always this is speculation and theory not solid fact

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Possible UK Coalition Deals

In honour of the first 100 days of the Tory/Libdem Coalition the BBC decided to fun a feature on what if they hadn't got together (

Although they discussed a Tory minority they very briefly touched upon any other make up of a coalition they focused mainly on the Lib Dems and their internal divisions.

I disagree with this approach and so shall provide a few different coalition make ups with perhaps overly simplistic deals

Current Parliament make up - Conservatives (C)-305 , Labour (L)-256, LibDem (LD)-57, (DUP)-8, (SNP)-6, Sinn fein-EXCLUDED, Plaid Cymru (PC)-3, (SDLP)-3, Alliance (A)-1, Green (G)-1, Lady Hermon (LH)-1

Seats needed for majority - 321 (taking into account Sinn Fein, Speaker and Deputies)

1- L/LD/DUP/Hermon=322- A Lab/Lib Coalition backed up by a Joint Unionist contingent of the Independent lady Hermon and the DUP, Lady Hermon during her time in Westminster has often voted with labour and was seen as Left wing within the UUP when she was a member it would most likely be quite easy to convince her to support if not join a Lab/Lib coalition. The DUP meanwhile could be tempted to joint he coalition with a number of methods, firstly by joining government and tackling the UK's problems they could be seen in northern ireland as legitmately trying to bring Northern Ireland closer to the UK mainstream and would score major points with Unionists, relying on solely Northern Irish MPs would mean any coalition would simply have to lessen the cuts on northern ireland which was already deemed to less of a target due to potential dissident feeling, therefore PR+Power+Preferential Budget could build this majority.

2- L/LD/SNP/PC=322- Lab/Lib again only this time back up by the 'Celtic Bloc'. With Plaid already in Coalition with Labour in the Welsh Assembly it would be logical to assume the One Wales government could work together. Plaid would most likely ask for funding system reform which Labour supports. SNP could be brought in with promise of Devolution MAX by end of the parliament as a compromise from their stance on independence. All four parties are left of Centre meaning likely policy agreement.

3-L/LD/SNP/PC/SDLP=325- Option 2 only bringing in the SDLP, as a Labour sister party it is logical to conclude they would support Labour, PR bonus to boost them against Sinn Fein in similar way to the DUP in option 1. Could Prompt more Co-operation from Plaid as they would not necessarily be needed.

4-L/Ld/SNP/PC/SDLP/A=326- Same again only including the Alliance party (libdem sister party) has added bonus of being parliamentary majority if Sinn Fein and Speakers were included. To add to options 2 and 3, SNP given Scottish Ministry, PC given Wales, SDLP given Northern Irish office and Alliance given Communites, give all parties a Cabinet seat with relevancy to their geographical support and Alliance communities as they the PR boost to the building communites across the UK would strengthen them in coming assembly election.

5-(The Anti-tory Alliance) L/LD/SNP/PC/SDLP/A/G/Hermon=328- An anti-tory rainbow alliance, All involved are of the left so ideology conflict would be less of a problem, DUP probably wouldn't work with nationalists and may sign on with the Conservative splitting parliament 328/314. Not Necessarily coalition of all parties but broad agreement to support Centre-left Government if full coalition was agreed include seats from option 4 and include Greens with Enviroment and Lady Hermon in Senior Position if not Cabinet.

6- L/LD/SDLP/PC/A/(H/G)=321- Majority using the sistrer parties and One Wales government with either Lady Hermon or the Sole Green MP. Removes the more radical nationalist of the SNP and built on solid relationships.

There is no other probable coalition other than Con/Lib that results in Conservative led majority.

If you find yourself reading an article on the coalition you will often find it said that 'A lab/lib coalition would be scurrying for votes on every issue' treat it as bollocks... strong words I know but take into account some facts

Despite what the news says, only 321 seats are needed for a parliamentary majority
Lab/Lib brings 313 seats 8 short of majority
the SDLP and Alliance party are the sister parties of Lab/Lib (4 seats in total)
The DUP are Nationalist in the same way as Plaid, they don't want out of UK they just want best deal for Northern Ireland.
The DUP are the only party other than libdem that would be likely to sign up with the Conservatives, this gives them 313 seats.
The SNP and Plaid form the Celtic bloc. (9 Seats)
Labour and Plaid are already in coalition in Wales.

A Coalition agreement would set out how the coalition would function within the parliament, there would be very little scurrying for votes as the parties would already know what the plan is ahead of time

Sunday, 15 August 2010

How Labour and Conservatives can run in Northern Ireland?

Northern Ireland in the Political Landscape of the UK is an oddity to say the least. Generally Northern Ireland is left to it's own devices and the Major UK parties take a slim interest in the power struggles for Stormont.

The Tories, Bless their cotton socks do make a small effort when it comes to Northern Ireland, They run a few candidates during assembly elections and occasionally link up with the UUP. (Though the UUP+Tory formula does not equal results) If the Tories decided to make a concentrated effort on Northern Ireland they could possibly take a few seats. To get seats though they would need to decide how they would squeeze into the battle;

UUP: The UUP going into 2011 will have a brand new Leader, Zero Westminster seats and no momentum going into the Assembly Elections, Perhaps the Approach Cameron should take is Being the Vulture to the UUP's Corpse, Take the Centre right members of the UUP for the themeselves and leave the DUP and TUV to fight over the leftover Unionists.

Sinn Fein: A difficult plan but it would really depends on how the Tories played it. Cameron has expressed his dislike for McGuinness so it would probably appeal to Cameron to dismantle Sinn Fein's Power. If the Plan of Attack was to point out the Irish schools issue and EU Agriculture Fine as examples poor governance by Sinn Fein and combine it with drawing focus to the fact that during the Recession Sinn Fein spent money running a general election campaign when they had never any intention of taking their seats and back it up with shots on Expenses which Sinn Fein drew Universal ire from every other party for, Cameron could shift support to the SDLP. Admittedly going after Sinn Fein would serve to to weaken an enemy rather than gain Cameron Seats but in the long run it could remove Sinn Fein from politics and allow more Tory friendly parties to take the seats at Westminster.

DUP: The Big Dog in the yard and probably the best left alone, with the DUP having the TUV barking at the doghouse and the Robinson saga they would be in no mood to dance with the Tories.

SDLP: Simple one, the SDLP are the Labour party of Northern Ireland, so if it's played just like that the Tories could then argue to be 'Normalising' politics in Northern Ireland.

In the end they will just have to run and hope.

Labour on the other hand haven't ran candidates, there are Labour parties just not the UK one. I think attempting some sort of official Deal with the SDLP (and possibly Irish Labour party) would be their best bet, creating a Labour Party of sorts of the whole of the British isles would win alot of fans on the left and allow for policies to be calibrated to maximise their effect over two economies.

I personally would love to see one or two seats won by the main parties, I think it would make the assembly more interesting and nudge Stormont towards mainstream politics of the UK.

There are three obstacles in the way however, Sinn Fein, The DUP and Fianna Fail. The DUP will not like the idea of the two big British parties playing in what is effectively their domain and will most liekly fight with everything they have to prevent any victory, Fianna Fail who are setting up shop in Northern Ireland will not be warm to even more competition to the voters they are trying to woo.

Just a little speculation on my part...

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Sinn Fein Executive - The Weakest Link?

The Mandatory Coalition System of the Stormont administration has its supporters and its detractors. Often the Coalition is criticised as petty with the constituent parties trying to score cheap political points over perceived failing of their Coalition Colleagues.

But recently it has become increasing easy to criticise the Sinn Fein Front line.
CaitrĂ­ona Ruane, the Education Minister has provided extra funding for Irish Medium schools with many seats unfilled while denying funds to integrated schools who are forced to turn pupils away, saying that the money is not there for the expansions schools seek while essentially setting up 4 new schools instead.

Michelle Gildernew, The Agriculture minister has cost Northern Ireland funding that it needs during this time of economic recovery due to the shambolic apporach to Farmers and EU grants which has incurred Northern Ireland millions in fines which will be applied to future funding.

With Sinn Fein MP Expenses coming under renewed fire from Westminster, Assembly Elections on the way and Fianna Fail setting up shop in Northern Ireland it is not unfeasible to say the Sinn Fein have some pressure on them.

Potentially the problems the Sinn Fein Executive have planned are part of a scorched earth strategy, setting up schools that will likely need to be closed due to lack of pupils and have problems with the EU needing to be resolved and then switching the ministerial briefs when the d'hondt system comes in. With some predicting Sinn fein advancing to be the biggest party they would have first pick of pretty much any ministry they liked.

However the problem Sinn Fein may face is that everyone has seen them setting up the pyres and this could backfire with Sinn Fein loses (they have already lost one due to boundary changes) forcing Sinn Fein into ministries that either lack importance or have been set to blow by Sinn Fein themselves.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

The Valley of Death for the Liberal Democrats

Today Nick Clegg announced in a speech that he believed that by the end of this Parliament we would have a "Liberal Britain", Problem is I doubt the Liberal Democrats will be apart of it.

During the election many found themselves gripped by Clegg Fever only to discover the hopes of a Lib Dem surge was but a fever dream. Now the Lib Dems find themselves sharing the flak as the austerity cuts come into play and their grassroots have discovered allergies to coalitions with the Conservatives.

From people i've spoke to there seems to be a general consensus, "I won;t be voiting Lib Dem again" But where will all these votes go? If we saw anything during the election it was a definite rise in people interested in politics, so where will all the lib dem voters go?

I think that this presents a great opportunity for some of the smaller parties such as the Liberal Party and the Greens. With a concentrated effort on their part we could see a shift from Lib Dems to the smaller parties in the English Local and Celtic Devolved elections.

Of course the Lib Dems have already employed a measure to stay relevant in the eyes of the public, The referendum on voting reform, by holding it on the same day as the other elections the Lib Dems hope to capitalise on their position as front runners in the yes camp to hold onto their seats.

There some more problems on the horizon though.

The Lib Dems are now linked with the Tories in a way no other party (Even the UUP) is linked. Immediately this will cause problems for the small LibDem contingent in Scotland, while the Lib Dems have enjoyed minor success in Scotland, they are now in with the party that has all but given up in the elections North of the Border. With Tory surrender in Scotland all but official the Lib Dems may also find themselves punished. The only glimmer of hope would be that all the Tory voters give up on the Scottish Conservative party and back their coalition partners to make the Scottish parliament a more Friendly place, this however is extremely unlikely.

In Wales, where the party is small they face a Conservative surge which may result in their senior partner inadvertently demolishing them alongside increased pressure from Labour who will be looking to take overall control in Wales next year and a ever persistent push of Plaid Cymru who will want to make sure they stay in a position of power.

It could be said that the Liberal Democrats face the same question Labour were being asked in the General election, it's not if we're going to lose, it's "Who are we going to lose to?"

Monday, 14 June 2010

The Big 3 and their Visions for Europe

Apologies for the lack of posting, life has gotten in the way.

As reported by the BBC ( there has been some rift betweeen France and Germany on the direction of the EU specifically on debt reduction. With the new Coalition Government in Westminster I believe it is a valid view that the Big 3 of Europe (being the UK, Germany and France) want 3 entirely different European Unions

For Germany, an export driven country, I believe they wish the EU to be an economic engine, producing goods and services for the the world and bringing wealth to the EU. As Germany is a leading exporter nation it could be said provide the fuel in exporting to non-EU countries bringing in the lifeblood of the EU, Cold hard cash, to spend on shipping in products and using services provided by other EU nations enhancing the wealth of all the EU and making the EU an Economic superpower.

France however, appears to be pushing for the EU to be Bigger Government, wanting to form a new secretariat (which they will likely want a say in who runs it) to co-ordinate all of the EU member states economies for the good of the EU, evidenced by their Peer-review idea for national Budgets before they get seen in parliaments.

The UK which now has the hybrid European policy of Lib Dem Integration and Tory stand-offness makdes it seem that the UK wants a European Market. This differes fromt eh German view as the Germans will most likely want co-ordination to make sure the eu members are strong while the UK will want a slightly more laissez-faire approach to the EU market.

this ofcourse is just my personal speculation, what do you think?

Sunday, 16 May 2010

House of Lords Reform

One of the key areas of policy that the Lib-Con Coalition will be focusing on is electoral reform. Already we have seen plans for a referendum for the AV system to be used for election to the House of Commons. but what about the House of Lords.

Apparently there are plans to reform the House of Lords, but into what is the question?
Here are a few options;

Scrap all Lords currently sitting, Election for Lords will use the traditional counties as constituencies and either AV or FPTP used to elect them. We will then have a fully elected Second chamber comprising of around 110 Lords.

Elect the Lords using fully PR and multi-member constituencies. No estimate on how many Lords we will then have.

Adopt the additional member or closed list and use a regional basis, meaning we vote for party but the Parties themselves pick who takes the seats.

I Personally would favour the first option as it lowers the number of Lords, uses a system that will not favour extreme parties and uses boundaries already in place.

The choice made by the coalition will however fundamentally change the system of Government we have in place.

Women in Cabinet?

In the first week the Lib-Con Alliance has already come under fire from two fronts.

Some of you may be wondering what the first sentence has to do with the title... well simply put both problems can be exemplified by the new Home Secretary and minister for Equality Theresa May.

Theresa May was a choice that was immediately flagged by Lesbian and Gay rights groups due to her voting record against equal rights for homosexuals in some cases such as; making the age of consent the same as heterosexuals, repealing section 28 and voting against allowing lesbians couple to have IVF treatment without a male role model.

Although some groups will have or will likely call for Theresa May to be replaced there is another section of the Rights movement who may have a problem with Theresa May being booted out;

Women's Rights Groups, already a Lib Dem MP has criticised the lack of Women in the Cabinet.

Obviously she could just be replaced by another female or simply lose her Equality portfolio to another female Minister. This looks the opening shots from the Pressure groups of the UK, trying to get a feel for the Government's reactions.

The larger question we could ask is what actually constitutes equality in terms of Cabinet picks? Theresa May's appointment was not seen as one of affirmative action but the reward of 13 years on the Conservative front bench, should minister's be thinking in terms of Race and Gender or the person's ability and experience?

I will not give my personal view on Sexuality Rights, Gender Rights or even attempt to answer the last question I posed. The answer you give is yours and it is not for me to try and influence, I shall simply lay out the facts and some possibilities.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Labour's counter-attack?

The UK now has a coalition government with David Cameron at it's head and Nick Clegg as his right hand, this government is a political beast that has not been seen since World War Two.

Labour have now been pushed onto the Opposition benches. But a theory which is being battered around by some pundits is that this is where Labour wish to be, to allow the Lib/Con alliance to take responsibility for the Budget Cuts which are no doubt on the way so as to present themselves as the "Good Guys" come May 2010.
I think however this is only one part of a much wider Labour strategem part of which was evidenced in the shadow of the general election.

As the Leader's debate came to television and the Lib Dems rose from obscurity 164 local councils in England were also being elected. In the General Election Labour haemorrhaged 91 seats from their Westminster Contingent but in the Local council elections Labour were the big winners. They managed to gain over 400 council seats while both the Tories and The Lib Dems lost over 100 each. Labour ended taking overall control of 15 councils while together the coalition parties lost control of 11.

What next?

Next Year Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have to their Assembly elections.
Currently in Scotland the SNP are the minority Government ahead of the Scottish Labour party by just 1 seat. Scotland could quite easily fall into Labour hands next year especially if they exploit the fact that there are very few Scottish Tories.
(Scottish parliament would require 60 seats for a majority SNP are on 47 Labour 46 but it is unlikely there will be overall control due to the PR system)

Wales is already governed by a Labour-Plaid Coalition, giving Labour their highest governing office at the moment. But Labour lack a majority on their own by 5 seats. I expect an all out assault on the 13 seats held by the Tories and maybe against the Lib Dems 5 seats as well.

Northern Ireland is not a stomping ground for the three main parties though they may all take some interest in the parties there are closest too hoping that their friends could tackle DUP/Sinn Fein Dominance. (Tories-UUP Lib Dem-Alliance Labour-SDLP)

If Labour were to gain minority contorl of Scotland and overall control of Wales it could make The Coalition's life that little bit harder especially for the Lib Dems who already have very little power in Wales.

The Point?

Labour managed to replace 91 MPs with over 400 new councillors; fresh blood, New Leader, better support for the National party at Council level and the prospect of gaining control of 2/3 Devolved Governments will mean that if the Coalition were to collapse anytime after the Assembly elections Labour could be in an amazingly strong position to regain Power in Westminster. Should the Coalition survive to May 2015 we could see Westminster and the Assembly election coincide with the opportunuity for Labour to take an unbelievable hold on the UK's governance.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Gordon Brown Resigns.....

During the election the media coverage was obsessed to see which major playes in the parties would get "Scalped"

The Morning after the election the biggest Scalp taken in the Westminster Campaign was that of Peter Robinson of the DUP, This Monday the 10th of majority the biggest scalp out there was taken, Gordon Brown PM.

Gordon Brown, "affectionately" called the Gordonator, the Terminator of British Politics. He was the slow moving, seemingly bulletproof Behemoth who once he had his mind set wouldn't care if a nuclear weapon was dropped on his head, he would continue on. He's been taken down by King Clegg, King-maker in Westminster.

Now as the Gordonator begins his slow march to the back benches, ready to be moth-balled and bowed up we have to ask will this bring the Progressive Alliance to power?

Saturday, 8 May 2010

The Slow Death of the UUP

Although the General Election saw the First Minister of Northern Ireland Peter Robinson lose his Westminster seat to the Alliance, it is the UUP who truly lost in Northern Ireland. This party was once one of the big two in Northern Ireland and now they have lost the little UK representation they had, have we in the last few weeks witnessed a lurch towards death for the UUP?

Before the election the UUP had one seat in the Commons, the much respected Lady Hermon. Then they decided on a Link-up with the Conservatives and all hell broke loss. With Lady Hermon's abandonment of the party and mini rebellions erupting within both the UUP's Council and Assembly seats Reg Empey was admittedly under pressure.

On May 7th, Reg Empey was in serious trouble.

Having decided to run himself in South Antrim he hoped to capitalise on his position as UUP leader to take a seat from the DUP and make the UUP seem more of a threat in the Assembly elections next year. Instead he may have shot his own party in the foot. Lady Hermon kept her seat as an independent, Sir Reg was defeated in South Antrim and the UUP took no seats putting them on par with the TUV and Green party of Northern Ireland. The TUV were disappointed with their lack of seats but they were the new dog in the yard and were not expected to do fantastically, the Greens can take some comfort in the election of Caroline Lucas in England, but what about the UUP, what possible excuse can be given?

Rodney Connor's loss by 4 seats to Sinn Fein's Michelle Gildernew also removed the guaranteed Tory Friendly unionist which makes may make the Tories incredibly peeved at their Northern Irish partner's failure and hurt them even further down the line.

Now look forward to the Assembly elections next year. Sir Reg will have to battle unbelievably hard to increase his seat share with the prospect of Sinn Fein taking the top spot, that is ofcourse assuming that Reg makes it to the election, like Peter Robinson and Gordon Brown, Reg faces possible ousting by his party in an attempt to distance themselves from the abject failure of May 6th.

Depending on when the next General election is held (in case of a coalition collapse or weak majority) next year's assembly will prove crucial for the UUP in ensuring their relevance for the next political cycle.

General Election 2010 - Possible Governments

This year's election was billed as the most exciting in recent history and the result carried on that theme.

Now the deal making begins and as a few pundits and journalists have said there are many different possible combinations for what make up of government we shall be governed by. One fact which has to be remembered is that as Sinn Fein abstain the number needed for a working majority is actually 324 rather than 326. Here are all the various combination that could be formed although some are highly unlikely.

1) Minority - Conservative (306) - If a deal is struck with the Lib Dems to not vote down the Queen's Speech the David Cameron could lead in a minority and deal with other parties on a case by case basis. This would obviously but David in number 10 but as there are very few Conservative friends in Parliament and this could seriously impede a Conservative Government's ability to rule.

2) Minority - Labour/Liberal Democrat (258/57) - If Labour and the Liberal Democrat make a coalition deal they outnumber the Conservatives, they will however still lack a majority. Something which has to be noted is that a Lab/Lib coalition would most likely be supported by the SDLP and the Alliance from Northern Ireland giving them 319 only 6 short of a working government majority of 1.

3) Coalition - Labour/Liberal Democrat/SDLP/Alliance/Celtic Bloc (258/57/3/1/9) - As I just mentioned the SDLP and Alliance support Labour and the Liberal Democrats respectively, if a deal could be reached with the Celtic Bloc we would have a government with a majority of 5. The result of a Nationalist Progressive Alliance as it were could be argued to be quite stable as with a majority of 4 either the SDLP, Alliance or Plaid could disagree with the government on their own and not break the majority. The potential downside would be the demands of the SNP for their continued support. An optional extra could be the inclusion of the Green Party to buffer up the majority to 6.

4) Coalition - Labour/Liberal Democrat/DUP/Celtic Bloc (258/57/8/9) - A slightly less likely option but one which would deliver a much stronger majority of 8, If the DUP could be convinced into joining a coalition with the Celtic Bloc it would likely mean the SDLP would not join but still support Labour and the Alliance may or may not enter with the Lib Dems. Once again if the Alliance and Green were included with their single seats it would deliver a majority of 10 which would mean a single small party could disagree and not break the government.

The list could continue on and on with combinations that become even more unlikely and the negotiations would carry on till the cows come home. My view is that Labour are the more likely to form a Coalition and Conservative to go for the Minority,why? Other than Labour obviously only having the options of Coalition or Opposition is that there is a serious lack of anyone who would side with the Tories. The DUP might but they will make the Tories work for it and their co-operation does not bring a majority. Plaid have said they will talk to the Tories but with only 3 seats and a nationalist agenda they are not likely favourable in Conservative eyes. The SNP are a no go as they to are nationalist. The 3 single seaters of the Alliance, Green and Lady Hermon are all likely to side with a Lib/Lab deal making them useless to the Tories. So really Tory plans are based on some deal with the Lib Dems but don't be surprised if Labour have already ranked every other party in order of preference and are making the calls for talks.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Green Party - General Election 2010

The Green Party, which I don't truly understand. Not their policies, they're pretty clear, it's their place in the Political battlefield of the UK.

Let us begin, if the election was last year the Greens would be very happy, New leader, the Copenhagen Debacle, it was Prime Green time, sadly that quickly passed due to the massive issue of the Economy in which the Greens are lacking in any real substance. They then ruled out working with any other party in the event of an hung parliament which I view as a mistake as with hung parliament being constantly mentioned every party should have been trying to make themselves seem approachable, at a price. So really the Greens have been removed from the field before even the Campaigns began and with their huge prediction of gaining one seat, they are now in the same league as RESPECT. If RESPECT were to somehow gain three seats in total at this election the Greens are going to be looking very very weak in terms of influence, as even with the expense scandal, the economy, Copenhagen and a myriad of other issues the greens still cannot break through. my advice to them is pretty straight forward;

1) English parliament - Campaigning for a PR elected English Parliament to increase Green officials, with 1 in Northern Ireland and 2 in Scotland they need more and more exposure and by arguing that an English Parliament could handle tackling the enviromental issues in England they could do ok.

2) Make Some friends - The Greens don't have any allies that I know off, perhaps looking at some other moderate parties could help their chances with an electoral pact.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

SDLP - General election 2010

The SDLP, One of the parties in the Northern Ireland executive, 4th largest party of Northern Ireland.

The SDLP would love in this election to overtake Sinn Fein in seats and reclaim the position of Dominant Irish nationalist party in Westminster, Sadly as this is Margaret Ritchie first General election as Leader while Sinn Fein have both Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness in Nationalist strongholds. However with the Unionist Pact for Fermanagh and South Tyrone Sinn Fein already look to lose a seat, the SDLP can only hope an agreement is not reached by the Unionists for South Belfast as well or the SDLP will most likely lose a seat as well.

Things I believe the SDLP should do during the election and after would be;

1) Unionist Civil War - Even though the DUP and UUP agreed on one Unity Candidate already doesn't Unionists are getting along, with the TUV (Traditional Unionist Voice) in the election fray as well and the loss of Lady Hermon for the UUP the Unionist seats will be an all out battle to see who will be the biggest Unionist Dog in the yard. The SDLP should avoid the topic too much in case to be seen as fanning the flames of discontent within the unionist community.

2) Sinn Fein - With Sinn Fein already looking like they've lost a seat the SDLP need to hammer them in the other two seats Sinn Fein have, attacking Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness would be a waste of resources, those two are firmly entrenched in their constituencies. Smart play made already by Ritchie turning down Gerry Adams' offer for a Nationalist Pact citing the hypocrisy in making a pact after bad mouthing the Unionists, made Sinn Fein and Gerry Adams (whose had a bad year already with his family problems and allegations from beyond the grave) look bad. It wasn;t a knockout punch for the SDLP but it was a clear warning shot that they want very little to do with Sinn Fein.

3) Justice - the entire devolution of Justice saga has given the SDLP ammunition against the DUP and Sinn Fein, Using that bullet at the right time could do some damage to the two parties records by highlighting how they are messing with the system to hurt the SDLP and UUP

4) New friends? - If Labour don't come out on top the SDLP should consider finding some new friends in Westminster, Possibles choices being the Celtic Bloc, Mebyon Kernow and the TUSC.

5) Early Start - as an Article in the BBC reecently said, Politics is a National Past time in Northern Ireland and the pinnacle of that is Stormont, the SDLP need to use the General election to get a running start at the Assembly election next year and pick out early targets so they can maximise their chances at moving up in the Stormont food chain. With early Prediction putting Sinn Fein as the top dog next year the SDLP have to make sure it doesn't happen at their expense.

For the SDLP the General Election will be the start of a Trial by Fire for Margaret Ritchie, If she can help build the SDLP (and knock Sinn Fein down a bit) she could become one of the Big Guns of Northern Irish politics, if She chooses to only sit in Westminster and the SDLP improve its standings she could make an interesting addition to a Labour Cabinet perhaps as the Northern Ireland Secretary (a position that may cease to exist if devolution continues). If she decided to follow Peter Robinson's idea and sit in Both Stormont and Westminster it could help her develop more of a relationship with Peter Robinson who does not get on well with McGuinness and potentially alter the entire power Dynamic of the Northern Ireland Executive and leave Sinn Fein in a similiar position as the one it is in down in the Republic of Ireland, Friendless.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

English Democrats - General Election 2010

The English Democrats, the supposed English version of The SNP and Plaid Cymru, will they join their nationalist brethren this year in parliament?

1) England First? - The EngDems apparently have a deal with the Far-right/Racist England First Party and although it has been stated they differ on their views on Race, immigration and Independence it can only hurt the EngDems in the long run by hanging around with them.

2) The Celtic Bloc - If the EngDems do win a seat or two they need to join up with the SNP and Plaid, going into Westminster with only 2 seats will not get you very far (Unless one of the parties is short of an overall majority by one) but by joining the Celtic Bloc the Nationalist will be in a much better position to get what they want.

3) Target the Tories - Labour and the LibDems are more open to Devolution than the Tories so taking seats from them is hurting those most sympathetic to their cause. Also with the current polls putting the Tories in the lead but needing anywhere between 4 to 20 seats for overall control increasing their deficit makes it more likely for the Nationalist to be in a position of influence.

4) Cornwall - An issue for the Engdems next conference perhaps, is it more advantageous to support Mebyon Kernow or go against them in Cornwall? Personally I think Lab might be more inclined to set up an Assembly in Cornwall due to their seemingly regionalised outlook on lower levels of government, the Engdems will have to decide how they feel on this.

5) Pick your friends - The EngDems are currently in the Alliance with Democracy, this includes several more Right Wing parties such as the Christian party, being seen with this crowd negates the EngDems propaganda on being neither left or right just English, it also hurts their chances of linking with the Celtic Bloc who are more Centre-left.

The EngDems have to work to prove themselves as the English version of the Celtic Nationalists, if they can do that and pick their target they could potentially take a couple of Seats and change the dimensions of the nationalist representation.

Sinn Fein - General Election 2010

Sinn Fein, Second largest Party of the Northern Ireland and the only party operating on an All-Ireland basis.

Although in my last posts I have detailed what I think the Parties need to do in the General Election and in some cases what to do if they win some seats, Sinn Fein however is a different Animal in this election. As Sinn Fein don't take their seats it essentially lowers the number of actual seats, so if Sinn Fein maintain their 5 seats in Westminster it lowers the number of actual seats from 650 to 645.

In all honesty I don't think Sinn Fein should even run in this election here's why;

1) Money - with all the economic problems it seems baffling for Sinn Fein to spend so much money on a full Northern Ireland Campaign and it would be smarter for them to save their money for the Assembly Election next year

2) SDLP - the SDLP as Sinn Fein's rival for the nationalist vote would love for Sinn Fein to bow out as it would increase the Irish Nationalist representation to anywhere from 7 to 9 seats in Westminster and would make SDLP relevant, Sadly Sinn Fein don't want the SDLP relevant especially with the Assembly Election next year.

3) Voice - it's a sad fact that everywhere with a Sinn Fein MP takes away a voice from Westminster, though Sinn Fein MPs may be active in community the fact remains they don't do the basic job of representing their constituents in Westminster, which I feel is wrong.

I'm happy enough for Sinn Fein to run for Europe, Stormont and Local councils but I feel that the General election is not where they should be.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) - General Election 2010

The Democratic Unionist Party, Largest Party of in the Northern Irish Assembly and Largest Northern Irish Party in Westminster.

The DUP should have been going into this election with 9 incumbents however with the entire Iris Robinson Saga they are already down a seat.

The DUP will have problems from both sides of the Community in Northern Ireland but it is a strong possibility they will remain as the top Northern Irish dog in Westminster

1) The Best Offence is a Strong Defence - The DUP don't necessarily need to gain any more seats in this election merely hold onto what they already have. As with Lady Hermon in Down North and Rodney Connor in Fermanagh and South Tyrone, Sinn Fein and the UUP are already under threat. The main threat the DUP face is the Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) as Jim Allister is considered a Heavyweight in terms on Unionist Politics and with Ian Paisley retiring and Peter Robinson embattled by his personal life, the TUV looks set to take possibly one seat from the DUP whose big guns are silenced.

2) Keep Calm - With the UUP tied to the Tories and the TUV viewed as Hardline the DUP have a chance now to renew their image by presenting themselves as a true Northern Irish Party which is working to fix the problems of Northern Ireland, to do this they must not fall back into old habits of Sectarian driven politics, if they can achieve this it will make them a more appealing ally to Lab/Con if they lack an overall majority by 9 or less seats (lacking a majority by 10 or more seats makes LibDems or the Celtic Bloc Kingmakers)

3) Avoid the two big dogs - If the DUP can avoid being overly critical of Labour and the Conservatives it again makes them a more appealing.

4) Build a Bridge - Before the current assembly it was the UUP and SDLP who were the big players, now its the DUP and Sinn Fein, if the DUP want to be kingmaker for Labour they need to be able to work with the SDLP more, this would benefit the SDLP by making them seem like the people who can look past the traditional divide and in the Assembly election in 2011 the SDLP could make gains against Sinn Fein by either forcing Sinn Fein to lessen their stances in some areas or more into the Hardline fringe with the TUV.

5) Annoy the Celtic bloc - Alex Salmond and Ieuan Wyn Jones made a huge fuss about being excluded from the Leaders Debates, the DUP have more seats then either of the parties (DUP 8, SNP 6, Plaid 3) Robinson should push to challenge both of them on screen. This would serve many purposes; Reminder that it could be Northern Ireland not Scotland/Wales who have the keys to number 10, Bring Northern Irish Politics further into the UK mainstream, Humiliate the Celtic Bloc after their threats to sue over the Leader's Debates (Robinson didn't say much about them which makes Salmond and Jones look a bit stupid since they have less seats) and Give Robinson chance to be seen outside typical battle with Sinn Fein and increase his profile in the UK-wide Political scene

I feel if the DUP play this election right they could be in a great position not just in Westminster but in the Lead up to the Assembly election next year, your thoughts?

Mebyon Kernow - General election 2010

The Cornish Nationalist party, One of the smaller fish in the Pond that is British Politics but in this election they could break through into Westminster.

A question you may have is why the Cornish nationalists were not mentioned in my previous post on The Celtic Bloc, mainly it's because they are the smallest nationalist party, only running in the six Cornish seats, but after writing the last article I realised that this party may cause a few surprises were it to gain even one seat.

1) Get a Seat! - Obvious first point, Mebyon Kernow needs only one seat to make the point, it will scare the hell out of the Lib Dems and Conservatives (Labour is not liked in Cornwall) if they get one it will be huge exposure for them and could add an interesting new dynamic to the review of how Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland get funded

2) The English Democrats - Should, come election day, The English Democrats and Mebyon Kernow achieve a seat between them, it could cause a bit of a dilemma for the Celtic Bloc, The extra seats would help them gain more influence but I doubt they'd be able to bring both the Cornish and English on board together. The English democrats want an English Parliament to counter the regionalisation the Labour government has implemented in England, The Cornish want more Autonomy from Westminster, so the Conflict in interests is obvious. If however Mebyon Kernow were to succeed in getting a seat or two and the English Democrats failed the Eng Dems could see the Cornish Join with the Celtic Bloc to pressure for more Autonomy with Plaid Cymru and the SNP while they are stuck at mayoral level in terms of influence.

3) *If MK get a seat and EngDems fail* - MK needs to use the one man Media magnet that is Alex Salmond, he may be a bit closer to independence than devolution than MK but he will bring MK attention which could help them look as a viable alternative to the LibDems in the South West of England

4) *if Both EngDems and MK achieve electoral success* - Try and reach an agreement due to the Cornish being a Celtic Peoples, perhaps the EngDems will go for it and the Celtic bloc could expand with both Mebyon Kernow and the English Democrats into a Nationalist Bloc (We'll ignore trying to get the SDLP on board for the moment)

5)*if Both achieve success but the Celtic bloc stick with the EngDems - it isn't game over for the MK, infact MK could join the SDLP in sitting with Labour in Westminster, it would mean Labour could be Propped in Government by a small nationalist following and would be more likely to give into Cornish Devolution ideas (SDLP who has huge Experience with Devolution would be a good friend for the MK)

Mebyon Kernow is a hard party to plan for due to their much lower profile. However their leader did take his ward by 78% I believe, so there is a definite following there, makes Cornwall and Interesting Battle ground and could spell disaster for the LibDems.

Anyone have any thoughts on MK?

Friday, 9 April 2010

The Celtic Bloc - General Election 2010

In the lead up to the Election the Scottish Nationalist Part and Plaid Cymru have decided to team up and form the Celtic Bloc,

As they are working as a Unit I shall treat them as such in this post though if requested I will do separate ones for each party

1) Support the English Democrats - although there is confusion about whether or not the English Democrats are just a slightly nicer version of the BNP or just the English version of SNP/Plaid the Celtic Bloc should try to help the English Democrats if the Latter is the case. Why? Because even if the EngDems get only one or two seats that is one or two seats to add to the Celtic Bloc (which may need to be renamed if the EngDems do get a seat) and every seat the Celtic/Nat Bloc gets the more they become a challenger to the Lib Dems.

2) Woo the SDLP - Pretty much the same idea again with the Northern Irish SDLP, problem is they already support Labour so it will take a bit more work, however as the SNP and SDLP share similar constitutional goals it wouldn't be to difficult to see either the SDLP defect to the Celtic/Nat bloc if the Conservatives wind up on top but short of overall control, This could give a Nat bloc of somewhere around 15-20 seats, enough to give someone the support if one of the Big Two fall only a little bit short of overall majority.

3) Nationalist War - Make it as clear as possible the lack of racial motivated policy within the Celtic Bloc so as to demonstrate as many differences as possible between themselves and the BNP, it's an obvious point but there are alot of people running around with nationalist in their name so it can't hurt to point it out.

4) Don't go Overboard - I aim this one particularly at the SNP who are more pronounced than Plaid in their ideas. If the SNP go crazy with what their demands for support are they are giving Power to the Lib Dems as they will scare off any chance that Lab/Con will come to them for help.

5) Criticise the Pact - The Tories have an electoral Pact with the UUP of Northern Ireland, it can be a huge target if played right, particulary in regards to getting the SDLP into the Bloc as they too aren't happy with it and also in getting the Tories to think about their relationship with the UUP if they need the Celtic Bloc's help.

6) Pick the Right fight - Labour is a Bleeding Giant of Seats right now, if the Celtic Bloc pick the right ones they could steal a couple of seats and put themselves in a more comfy position for the next 4 years.

7) Watch Out for the Other little Guys - the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition "TUSC" (made up of; Socialist Party, Socialist Resistance, Socialist Workers Party and Solidarity) are running just under 45 candidates, 10 of them are in Scotland with a few in Wales. Since they have all decided to play nice this could hurt the both the Bloc and Labour since theses seats are already left leaning and could either weaken the Bloc enough for another party to take the seat or if the electorate decide to really punish the more well established parties give them a seat or two.

The Engdems have signed up with the Alliance for Democracy (made up of; Christian Party, English Democrats, Jury Team, Popular Alliance, UK First Party and Veritas) It is doubtful these parties will make a break through in terms of seats (except the Eng Dems, and the independents will be vague have their own positions) but the AOD could still hurt votes for the other parties depending on where their candidates pop up.

The Liberal Democrats - General Election 2010

The Liberal Democrats, the UK's third Party, the other guys, the Under-underdogs....

Going into this election Nick Clegg (anyone ask who that is and I will have to hit you with a shovel) said he wanted to be Prime Minister, sadly for this ambitious LibDem he hasn't a hope, but just because Little Nicky won't achieve his dream doesn't mean it's all over for the LibDems.

As many of the pollsters are predicting we may have a Hung Parliament as the grand result of this General election, The Lib Dems must ensure this if they wish to move up in the world. With a Hung Parliament Little Nicky, whose been mocked time and time again for being the invisible man of the UK political scene, will be the King Maker and the keys to power will rest with the Liberal Democrats. If it seems like i'm stating the obvious, I am, got to cover as much as I can, makes me seem more clever.

To achieve the hung parliament here is what I think the Lib Dems need to do.

1) Defend the Southwest from the Tory advance - an obvious one to start off with but if the Lib Dems lose the south west it may knock them down to the same level as the Celtic Bloc and Northern Irish parties and make them completely irrelevant for 4-5 years.

2) Attack the SNP - the SNP have set themselves a hefty target of 20 seats (at least Alex Salmond has) and are planning on bleeding Labour to get them, the Lib Dems need to go to all out war with the SNP, as since the SNP have most of the seats in the Celtic Bloc taking them out will eliminate the nationalist threat meaning the next contender for the King Maker Position would be the DUP of Northern Ireland. By breaking the SNP the Lib Dems stay as first in line to be King Maker. (Provided of course Lab/Con lack 15+ seats of and overall majority)

3) Back the other little guys - Within Tory Territory (South-east and Middle England) there lies a small army of smaller parties in constituencies where the Lib Dems sadly have very little hope. By maybe suggesting that voters should look to some of the the smaller parties to punish the Larger two for the expenses scandal and corruption. This one can potentially backfire depending on how the Lib Dems put it across as they themselves are a big party though did not take as much flak from the Expenses and aren't in enough of a position to be corrupt. Backing the little guys may hurt the Tories in their safe seats enough for Labour, UKIP or maybe an independent to nick a seat. If anything it may put the Conservatives one short of that overall majority but it's better than nothing.

4) Start talking about the Alliance party - The Alliance party are essentially the Northern Irish Lib Dems who sadly do not even have a hope of getting one seat. But every vote that is cast for them weakens the nagging sectarian headcount Northern Ireland gets into around every election and potentially could uproot some of the incumbents from supposedly safe seats. If anything this is more a Long-term idea to make the Alliance look like a credible Party as the few seats they do get in the Northern Irish Assembly give the Lib Dems some friends at the devolved level.(Assembly elections next year after all)

5) Use Charles Kennedy - The man is a legend like John Prescott, yes he was in the Political scene by his admission of a Drinking problem but that makes him the seem more human to the common voter as opposed to the squeaky clean possible cyborg that is Cameron. Also Nick right now is relying on Vince Cable a bit to much in my view, Bringing Kennedy back up gives the Lib Dems a slightly more recognisable Front Line and shows that Brown isn;t the only one with a team behind him.

6) Europe - the Lib Dems need to use the Europe rounds when in the political gunfight of this election, mainly in seats where there is a strong Con/UKIP presence not so much as a campaign issue, It's more a way to cripple the Tories as Europe seems to make Tories bicker and UKIP could use the chance to talk about their favourite subject.

7) Find the right Balance - the Lib Dems have always been a party with good ideas but never got the coverage, now in election time when the cameras are actually pointing at them Clegg is bouncing around the country with very little policy talk, just meet and greets and photo ops, The Lib Dems did well in the Chancellors debate and they need to use the press time to blast the fact that they actually have some decent policies.

I;m aware some of these are pretty obvious but it's simply to provide what I think would be a good tactical plan for the election, the Lib Dems are a big enough party that it makes it dificult to plot a detailed tactical plan as they are almost everywhere