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

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Irish General election 2011 - Tactical Analysis

The General Election in the Republic of Ireland has been hailed as historic and a Political Massacre, as Fine Gael top the Poll to become the largest Party in the Dail while Fianna Fail are not only consigned to wander the political Wilderness but sent out bloodied and beaten.

So what now for the parties of the republic of Ireland

Fine Gael - 76 Seats

The New Big Dog of the Irish Yard. Fine Gael's massive gains won't bring them much of a political honeymoon, left with one one real option of a Coalition with Labour, Fine Gael will have to ensure that their Junior partner is kept under control, especially due to Labour's bad history in Coalitions. Fine Gael's main problems however do not reside in the political landscape of Ireland, where their historic Civil-war opponent now lies beaten, but instead in Brussels, wheere the European Heavyweights of Merkel and Sarkozy face their own national battles and will be looking to satisfy their electorate with Irish Red Meat.

Labour - 37 Seats

Labour have advanced to become the number 2 party of the Dail, not just in terms of Coalition, but also in Size. With their new size comes the promise of some power as the Junior partner in the Coalition, but Labour will have to be cautious, with the corpse of the last Junior party, The Greens, to serve as a reminder of what can happen to Junior Partners. Labour's time in Government however will not be made easy by the Hard-Left, who now take on the dual-form of Sinn Fein and it's Socialist Republicanism and the United Left Alliance and it's more traditional Socialism both of whom made historic gain of their own.

Fianna Fail - 20 seats

Fianna Fail lost 57 seats during the election, suffered high profile casualties, and took the record for the worst defeat ever for a Western government Party. Fianna Fail now a shadow of it's former glory face the task of Opposition while also rebuilding their party. There is some Solace, with the rise of the Hard-left, Opposition duties can now be effectively spilt, with Fianna Fail targeting Fine Gael and Sinn Fein and the ULA focusing on Labour. Fianna Fail may wish to consider challenging for more seats in the north, adopting a strategy similar to Sinn Fein, unfortunately with both Local and Assembly elections being held in Northern Ireland in May, Fianna Fail will have to put together a campaign quickly, even if it is only a token force.

Sinn Fein - 14 seats

Sinn Fein managed to gain over treble the seats they had going into the election, and brought Party president Baron Gerry Adams into the Dail. Sinn Fein will now most likely go after Labour, attacking them for going into Government with Fine Gael. Sinn Fein's focus however will shift to the North, where they hope to make enough gains to pull the DUP down into Second place and claim the title of First Minister for themselves. Sinn Fein will have to watch to see how the Unionists try to take on the momentum that Sinn Fein has gathered, but also will have to keep a eye on the ULA.

United Left Alliance - 5 seats

The Breakthrough of the United Left Alliance into the Dail has brought 2 Socialists, 2 People before Profit Alliance members and 1 Workers and Unemployed Action Group member. There have been talks of a Single Party being formed to capitalise on the gains the left alliance has made. They may also try to make similar gain in Northern Ireland where the parties that make up the ULA also run. The best bet for the ULA is to focus it's efforts on Labour, allowing Fianna Fail to handle Fine Gael.

The Green party - O seats

The Green Party suffered a total Wipeout in the election and will no doubt be out of the Dail for a while to come. The Green party will have to do as Fianna Fail plan to, and rebuild the party from scratch.


Irish politics has changed, only time will tell if it's for the better

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Voluntary Coalition in Northern Ireland?

With the Current overhaul of the Irish political landscape which may see Fine Gael form a Single Party Government for the first time and the Celtic Fringe Devolved Elections tkaing place in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, Could the next Stormont Assembly be one of Voluntary Coalition?

This Question has cropped up for numerous reasons, The Tories want to see normalisations of Coalition Politics in NI, (they're really getting into the Coalition thing) The Drastic changes predicted for the Republic of Ireland's Government, (including 100% more Baron Gerry Adams) the Possibility of a Sinn Fein First Minister and the Potential for TUV MLA to be elected in May.

So the question I pose is, what would this new Northern Irish Coalition look like?

To give an idea of seat numbers i'll use the current numbers (as of February 16th 2011) with a few tweaks, that means our hypothetical Assembly looks something like this;

DUP - 35
Sinn Fein - 27
UUP - 16
SDLP - 16
Alliance - 7
Green - 1
*Fianna Fail - 1
**TUV - 3
Other - 1
***Presiding officer - 1

*Fianna fail currently have a member sitting in the Assembly though he hasn't takent he designation
**The TUV were assigned the 3 current independent Unionist seats
***The Presiding officer is formerly DUP

In the 108 seat Assembly, 54 seats are required for a majority of one (Gov.=54 Opp.=53 P.O.=1)

DUP Led Coalitions?

In our scenario the DUP have remained the Biggest Party in the Assembly (poor Sinn Fein) so they get first crack at forming a Coalition. With their 35 seats they only need the support of 19 more to form a government.

1) DUP + Sinn Fein (62 seat government, majority of 9) - The Grand Coalition. Possibly one of the least likely to ever happen Voluntarily. However it offers the most seats with the fewest number of parties involved. Should this Coalition ever be formed not only would the DUP/Sinn Fein Coalition command quite a strong majority in the Assembly but would also check Cross-Community protocols being made up of the Two largest parties of the Unionist and nationalist Communities. Likely that the DUP would favour the more business and financial orientated Ministries with Sinn Fein focused on the more social, this would allow Sinn Fein to promote it's Irish programs in NI while the DUP handle financial infrastructure. Unlikely to happen as both Parties hate the other with equally.

2) DUP + UUP + TUV (54 seat Government, Majority of 1) - The Unionist Unity Coalition. An Unlikely option for many reasons. First the TUV would hold to much sway for it's size it's 3 seats being the final piece needed for a majority. Second the Pan-Unionist Government would have problems getting cross-community support unless an arrangement could be made with the SDLP. Thirdly, likely to push up Sinn Fein votes as they will be percieved as the best option to break the Pan-Unionist Government. Finally, majority of one will mean every vote will be needed most of the time and one rebel could defeat Government.

3) DUP + UUP + SDLP (67 seat Government, Majority of 14) - The Workable Coalition. A potential option for a Coalition. The SDLP and UUP have a history working together and are the likely parties to voluntarily leave the Current Executive to form an Opposition. If the UUP/SDLP (Classic) Bloc chose to support the DUP, they would provide a large majority and Cross Community support. Likely to cause a lot of anger from Sinn Fein ranks from what is essentially the Current Executive minus them. SDLP would likely be happy to take the Education brief to try and fix the problems that Sinn Fein couldn't and would also be given the Deputy First Minister to ensure the Coalition appeals to both communities.

4) DUP + Alliance + SDLP (58 Seat Government, Majority of 5) - The Bridge Coalition. Choosing the Alliance Party over the UUP would mean that the Bridge Coalition would be made up of a 'Unionist', a 'Nationalist' and an 'Other'. Though a smaller majority than the Workable Coalition, it would allow the UUP a chance to form their new identity and mean the Bridge Coaliton would not be seen as Unionist Dominated. Sinn Fein could not complain that they were purposefully being excluded as so to would the UUP. The TUV would be supportive of the Lack of a Sinn Fein presence in Government. SDLP again takes Deputy First Minster with Alliance remaining at Justice.

5) DUP + Alliance + UUP (58 Seat Government, Majority of 5) - The 'ConDem' Coalition. Made up of the Lib Dem sister and the Tory something parties, this coalition would numerically be as strong as the Bridge coalition, though lacking the cross community appeal. Could be seen as the only way the DUP and UUP could form a Unionist coalition without the more hardline TUV.

6) DUP + SDLP + TUV (54 seat Government, Majority of one) - The Hardline Lite Coalition. An unlikely coalition due to the Hardline Unionism of the TUV and the Nationalism of the SDLP, but would have cross community support. Would also give the UUP time to decide it's future direction.

A seventh option exists in the all but Sinn Fein option in which everyone but Sinn Fein is invited to help form the Government though this will likely backfire and result in Sinn Fein gains.

Sinn Fein First Minister?

Should the DUP find no love with any of the other Parties, perhaps then it will be the opportunity for Sinn Fein to lead the Government of the North.

1) Sinn Fein + SDLP + UUP (59 Seat Government, Majority of 6) - The Anti-DUP coalition. Perhaps the only credible coalition that Sinn fein could actually lead which would have a majority. A deal with the Classic Bloc would give Sinn Fein power but leave them facing the DUP and TUV across the aisle.

Any other Sinn Fein lead Coalition would require both the UUP and SDLP plus anyone else they could get on board.

The reality of the current Seat numbers is that the DUP are the only party to have the numbers to give them a wide range of options in forming a coalition thanks to the 8 seat difference between them and Sinn Fein. As May approaches and talks about DUP/UUP deals in North and West Belfast continue it is likely that by the end of this election cycle the DUP will remain the Strongest party in the Assembly.

I will note however that these coalitions were based on the idea of very little change come May (with the TUV being the exception) and therefore may be pointless. Regardless, What Coalitions could you see forming in Northern Ireland? How much impact will the TUV make? and any other thoughts you have? please comment.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Labour vs Ieuan Wyn Jones

A day after I post about the possibility about a ConDem Coalition in Scotland the One Wales Government suffered a mini-implosion.

The Clash between Labour and the Plaid Cymru Leader, Ieuan Wyn Jones, has thrown some added dimensions to the upcoming Welsh Assembly Elections. Labour has said that a One Wales Government, Mark 2 isn't the only option after the election.

Evidence of why Labour seem so confident that they will not need Plaid can be seen in current opinion polls. (See the Wikipedia page on the Welsh Assembly election) Currently Labour Are sitting on 45% in the Constituency polls and 40% in the regional polls, to put that in perspective Labour won 26 seats last election with 32.2% and 29.6% of popular support, so thats an increase in support of 12.8% and 10.4% already. Labour likely believe that if they can maintain their ratings, continue to attack the Westminster Coalition and reach out to disaffect Liberal Democrat Supporters, they can gain the 5 seats they need to have majority control of the Assembly. This would obviously destroy any threat of a Plaid-led 'Rainbow Coalition'.

The attack on Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones, was a very targeted one however, it wasn't against Plaid, simply Jones' apparent mismanagement of his economic brief. Possibly if Labour find themselves needing the support of Plaid, they will ask that Plaid remove Ieuan Wyn Jones in a Clegg-Style demand for Coalition or at the very least remove him from the Economic Brief.


Labour or ConDem?

This argument helps highlight the position that the Deputy First Minister may find himself in come, May. Should the arithmetic make a Plaid Led Government a possibility, Ieuan Wyn Jones will have to choose whether to remain as Junior Partner to Labour or strike a deal with the ConDems. It is highly unlikely that Plaid will make the 4 seat gains that they would require to only need one party to form a Coalition with (which would be the Tories) especially considering Labour's Commanding Lead in the Opinion Polls.

Plaid will most likely back One Wales Mark 2 rather than Condem support, the question is, will it be Ieuan Wyn Jones who carries on leading the Welsh Nationalists?

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Scottish Government Budget Passed

Today (9/2/11) the SNP minority administration passed the last budget before the Scottish parliamentary elections on May 5th.


ConDems Support Nationalists?

With every passing year of SNP the Scottish budget has been subjected to the same political horse-trading. This budget however is special, other than being potentially the SNP's last Budget for a while should they lose the election but also how they passed it.

In the lead up to the passing of the Budget, the general consensus among the media was that the most likely outcome would be Labour/Green Opposition to the bill, Conservative support and the Liberal Democrat abstaining. Though Labour and the Green Party did indeed oppose the Budget (having not achieved any/enough of the concessions they wanted) both the Liberal Democrats and Tories backed the SNP budget (with a few of their concessions picked up)

There have been rumours floating through various articles that the SNP/Tory reluctance to possibly working closer in Holyrood has been weakening. Perhaps the Coalition has presented the Tories with a new found respect for the benefits of Coalition government, and with the potential change to AV voting for Westminster, Coalitions may become the order of business.

It is the Liberal Democrats support for the Budget that is most surprising. Having achieved some concessions they could have simply abstained and allowed the budget to have gone through with Tory support. In the spirit of Tactical Politics here is some Points of Analysis


1) ConDem Bleed Effect - The ConDem Coalition hope to introduce 5 year fixed term parliaments and the Devolved Governments run on 4 year life cycles. As it stand the current Westminster parliament and the Next Devolved governments will all hold elections at the same time in 2015. This ConDem support for the SNP could be a hint at a possible expansion of the Coalition work together until 2015 in both levels of Government. If The ConDem Coalition can do a deal with the Celtic Bloc it would make the implementation of their policies much easier without a Labour-Led Welsh Government and SNP Minority Government making life difficult. This raises another question, if the Coalition is entering Celtic politics, will The Celtic Bloc be joining the Westminster Coalition?

2) Liberal Democrats Election Strategy - The Liberal Democrat leadership is always quick to point out that thye operate as a separate party from the Conservatives, but going into elections having just joined with the Tories to back the SNP's budget, shoots the argument in the foot. While yes, it could be argued that the Liberal Democrats supported the Budget because they achieved the concessions they wanted, surely they could have simply abstained and then have been able to have portrayed the SNP as making the bed for a SNP/Tory coalition after May 5th. This may not have helped the Lib Dem vote recover but it would have damaged the SNP nationalist credentials and perhaps pushed some support to the pro-independence parties like Solidarity and split the votes.

3) Labour and the Greens? - Labour and the Greens may have received either a very late or incredibly early Christmas present. The Scottish Greens have in the past offered a level of support to the SNP, but recently they seem to be arguing more with their Pro-Independence Brethren. With the Election of their first MP and possible collapse in Student Lib Dem support the Greens and Labour could pick up more votes than they normally would. While it is unlikely that the Greens and Labour would enter Coalition, perhaps the Greens will offer a level of support to Labour rather than the SNP. Labour need to use this to their advantage and hit out at the SNP hard, should they come out on top of the May 5th election but lack a majority or a share of the seats in which the support of the Greens or Independents wouldn't give them a majority they will find it near impossible to do anything as it is unlikely the ConDems or SNP would give support without huge concessions.


There are many many things that could be gleaned from the Budget, but one thing is for certain, the Horse-trading has just begun.



Please Comment with any thoughts.

Barnsley Central By-Election

Eric Illsley has resigned his seat two days before he is due to be sentenced, so let's bring on By-Election Number 2.

Like the Old and Sad by-election Barnsley Central is a Labour seat and with a majority of over 11000 it is unlikely that Labour will lose this one either. Instead this by-election will probably be focused on two other aspects.

Conservative vs Liberal Democrats

The first will be the behaviour of the Conservative and Liberal Democrats camps going into this one. At the 2010 General Election they were only 6 votes apart, so a soft campaign by the Tories is not really an option with the margin being so small between 2nd and 3rd place. Having maintained the Liberal Democrat vote in the Old/sad By-election the Coalition should take the view that the Lib Dems have had time to recover and this election should be fought as hard as possible to demonstrate not only that the parties are different (to silence more merger talk) but also to show that the Lib Dems do not require an easy ride from the Tories.

The Other Guys

As with any By-election little media attention will be paid to the fight for 4th place. The BNP came fourth in the General Election, Followed by UKIP. With the recent internal problems that have plagued the BNP and being pushed by UKIP into 5th in Oldham, the BNP will need a strong showing to prove that they are still in the game, especially so close to Local and Assembly elections. Otherwise UKIP may finally be able to garner enough support to make significant gains come May, which with their new Millionaire supporter will be much easier to do.


I would suggest that as many of the smaller/minor parties should run in this election, as it will provide an excellent opportunity for publicity in the lead up to the Local election in England. Parties such as the Libertarians, Liberals, SDP, Greens, English Democrats and Pirate should attempt to run. In the case of the Left wing parties of which there are a multitude, I would suggest backing a left unity candidate, perhaps a Trade Unionist and Socialist Candidate (TUSC) so as to gather a bit more attention for the left wing candidates who may have a chance in Scotland come May.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Return of the Left-Wing?

With the Irish General election confirmed for the end of February and the Celtic Elections set for May 5th, an old force hopes to make a comeback.


United Left Alliance and Sinn Fein

In Ireland Fianna Fail looks guaranteed to haemorrhage seats in the Dail, while this spells good news for the Labour Party and Fine Gael it is the parties of the Hard-Left that look set to make gains.

Sinn Fein currently sitting with 5 seats in the Dail hope to at least double their seat numbers with the presence of Baron Gerry Adams and a disenfranchised electorate. Pointing to Northern Ireland to show that they can deal with handling budgets which limits are dictated by an external force, Sinn Fein will hope that if they make enough gain the other parties will have to consider them a viable coalition partner. Baron Adams has been firm in stating that coalition negotiations should wait till after the election, though stating he would not work with as a junior partner to the right wing parties of Fianna fail and Fine Gael. It can only be assumed that Baron Adams envisions a Labour-Led coalition of the Left to deal with the EU/IMF and the Irish financial situation. To do this however would require a bit more help however...

United Left Alliance

The ULA, featuring the Socialist Party, the People Before Profit Alliance, and the Workers and Unemployed Action Group and a few former Labour Party members will be fielding 19 candidates. They hope to establish enough seats to alter the assumed Fine Gael-Labour government in March. Much like Sinn Fein they do not wish to see the continuation of Irish politics being headed by either Fine Gael and Fianna Fail.


The potential Left wing government in Ireland would be historic, however it does suffer from several flaws in the theory. Firstly, the Labour Party are not keen on working with Sinn Fein, so unless Labour and the ULA gain enough seats to form a Coalition Labour may have to make a decision, the Hard-Left Republican Sinn Fein, Headed by Baron Adams or the battered Fianna Fail, led by former Foreign minister Michael Martin (could easily ask for his old job then). Both choice difficult, with Sinn Fein being seen as Radical and Fianna Fail being seen as the cause of a lot of the problems facing the Republic.

There is one scenario a Left-Labour Government could come about;

1) Labour become Largest/Second Largest party against Fine Gael
2) ULA makes some gains (first election for ULA)
3) Green Party maintains it seats
4) Independents (who do better than in British elections) make gains
5) Deal struck with either Fianna Fail or Sinn Fein

Depending on seat wins Gilmore could come out as Taoiseach with either Michael Martin or Baron Adams as Deputy

This however is not the only chance of a Left Resurgence, Scotland promises to attempt a fightback for the Left-wing.

George Galloway

The Firebrand, Maverick Left Winger, George Galloway hopes to lead the Left Wing back into Holyrood after a 4 year exile. With the imprisonment of Solidarity Leader Tommy Sheridan, not only have there been talks of Solidarity standing with George Galloway on a joint slate in Glasgow but also the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP), has reached out to it's splinter, Solidarity, with an offer for reconciliation.

If a Joint left ticket could be agreed (and agreed for the whole of Scotland) The Left wing parties could make their way into the Scottish Parliament. While up against some stiff competition from Labour and the SNP who will no doubt be brawling for control, a sudden Left Wing presence could be a god-send for the SNP with the arrival of so many pro-independence Left-wingers.


Only time will tell if the Left-wing parties can manage to regain a foothold in the political make-up of the UK, but it will definitely make for an interesitng element in the elections.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Sinn Fein Under Pressure

Back in July I posted about how Sinn Fein Executive ministers CaitrĂ­ona Ruane and Michelle Gildernew may be the weak link on the Executive.

Now Minister for Regional Development, Conor Murphy MP, is under pressure over what is being described as the 'shambolic' response to the Northern Ireland Water (NIW) crisis that struck homes during the Christmas period.

Sinn Fein has no far rejected calls to remove Conor Murphy, despite already facing a motion of no confidence backed, quite publically by the UUP and SDLP. Should the DUP and Alliance give their support to the No motion confidence and Conor Murphy remain in place, it could be the straw that breaks the donkey's back, forcing the UUP and SDLP to abandon the Stormont Executive and set up shop as the Stormont Opposition.

With the Assembly Elections approaching and Martin McGuinness being surrounded by Ministers who have less than spotless records for the last year, one must question their electoral strategy. Two options that spring to mind would be

1) Riding out the storm - Potentially that after the Assembly election, Sinn Fein plan to switch some of their Ministries to those which have been less affected by the recession and mistakes by minsters. By maintaining the current ministers they don't have to expose any new potential ministers to potentially toxic departments.

2)Breaking the Coalition - By maintaing ministers which are not popular with the rest of the Assembly Sinn Fein may hope to force the UUP and SDLP out of the Executive which would bring two advantages. First Sinn Fein could claim the moral high-ground in not abandoning the power-sharing agreement and secondly by forcing the other two parties out they leave more ministries up for grabs.

Conor Murphy may face a tough few weeks before the Assembly enters full election mode.


Whats you view? please comment :D

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Ed Miliband: Leader Under Threat

In the mind of a politician there is one fact that is always present, the next election date may be your expiration date, The Leader of the Opposition is however the exception to the rule. Although Ed Miliband knows, that come May 6th 2015 if he hasn't pushed Labour back into first place after the votes have been counted, he will most likely not continue as Leader, he also faces problems which threaten to bring his end much sooner.

Oldham East and Saddleworth

Once the votes are counted on January 13th and we hear the result, Ed Miliband will know how stable his leadership will be in the run-up to May. if the results end with....

Labour Victory: Ed Miliband safe till May and will be able to use win as ammunition against both the coalition and his critics

Liberal Democrat Victory: Ed Miliband will face serious question from his party considering current Lib-Dem opinion poll ratings, will make it more difficult to attack Clegg and critics of Ed will gain more support

Conservative Victory: If the Conservatives soft campaign in Oldhan still results in a Conservative win, Ed will face serious problems from within as he lost to the party that weren't even trying. Coupled with the fact that Ed's policy review has left Labour temporarily lacking policy will mean the Conservatives will be able to launch a full on attack on Labour allowing Lib Dems some breathing space.

Green/English Democrat/Pirate/BNP/UKIP/MRLP/BPEP Victory: If any of the 'Others' win, Ed will most likely have to resign as he would have no credibility as a Leader come the next PMQ.


Alan Johnson

Many people, including perhaps Alan himself, were shocked when it was announced he would be Chancellor. Unfortunately the Shadow Chancellor knew why he was placed in the number 2 spot on the Shadow Cabinet, it was to keep Balls out. It was suggested that had David Miliband won, Ed Balls would have been Shadow Chancellor following a deal between the two, and while Ed hoped to protect his position with the Party loyalist Johnson, Johnson is most likely not happy to be put in the position of having to fight economics when he is not an expert on the subject. With some already public disagreements on policy during Ed Miliband's first 100, Alan is now falling behind Ed, but the fact remains Ed's first 100 days as leader were marred by Johnson.


David Miliband

With rumours aplenty about a possible merger between the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives and a current policy review rebuilding Labour's manifesto, some have called for Ed Miliband to simply sit back and allow the Coalition obsessed media and shunned wings with the Government to damage themselves. Sadly this idea had already been taken by David Miliband. After his defeat David took to the backbenches with the only major public statement being that he would not be accepting the role as ambassador to the US. David has in fact done nothing, He has simply set up shop on the sidelines and watched his Brother go. Either it is a testament to the skill David has a politician or the problems that Ed has faced but some have already been questioning whether the right Miliband is leading Labour. It is perhaps the most chilling message an Older Brother can give to his Younger sibling, 'I'll be waiting'. Unlike Ed, David has no unwanted problems threatening to cut his time short, he has until the next General election and is in safe seat and with David doing absolutely nothing, it is all on Ed.


For Ed the next 6 months will decide if he remains as Leader, a doubtful performance and Labour can afford to replace him as they sit in Opposition.


How has Ed done so far? will he make it to the end of the year? what's your view?

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

English Local Elections 2011 - New Year View

In May of this year, a large chunk of the local English councils, 36 Metropolitan boroughs, 194 Second-tier district authorities, 45 unitary authorities and various mayoral posts, will all be up for grabs.

As it stands at the moment, the Conservative Party controls about 46% of council seats in the UK with Labour on 21% and the Liberal Democrats on 19%. But since England lacks a devolved government of it's own (to the annoyance of the English Democrats) these elections will be the best chance for any of the smaller parties based in England to really make some gains.

Labour - For Labour they will be going into the English elections with some momentum having made gains during the 2010 local elections (+14 Councils and +414 Councillors) which ran parallel with the General Election. But they will be hoping to capitalise on the Spending Cuts made by the Coalition and the huge drop in Lib Dem support in the opinion polls to gain as many councils as they can. Apart from the obvious reason of wanting more seats to push their policies on a local level, a big win for Labour in the Local elections could be the push they need to de-stabilise the Liberal Democrats from the Coalition and dispel the argument that a new Lib/Lab/others coalition was anti-English as they could easily argue that the local elections show they have a good support among the English. For 'Red Ed' Miliband these elections are just as much a test of his leadership as the Devolved elections, as even when losing the General election Gordon Brown's Labour party still managed to make gains.(Current UK council standing - 4379 councillors, Rank: 2nd)

English Democrats - For the English Democrats, these elections have the same weight as the Scottish Parliament's are to the SNP or the Welsh Assembly's are to Plaid Cymru. Currently they hold 4 seats (1-Blackburn and Darwen, 1-Calderdale and 2-Peterborough) and the mayoralty of Doncaster but will be hoping that the 64000 votes they scored in the General election will carry on into the Councils which could see them make some nice gains for their party. If they make a significant enough gain to enter an Opposition or Coalition partner on a council it will be a real test for the bigger parties to deal with the growth in English Nationalism without alienating voters. A question which could effect English Democrat success is to whether or not the Alliance for Democracy, the electoral alliance between the EngDems, the Christian Party, the Jury Team and Veritas will still remain for the local election as they will then be able to pull their votes together to help each other in certain areas. (Current UK council standing: 4 Councillors, Rank: 26th

Respect - The Respect Party, most commonly known for it's former MP George Galloway, will be hoping to build on its local base having seen their Commons representation lost in the General Election. Having scored 0.1% (33251 votes) of the total UK vote in the General Election with only 10 candidates (over half the EngDem vote with a 1/10 of the candidates) and currently chalking up 13 councillors, the Respect Party is one which may see itself becoming more prominent in it's strongholds. The main problem for th party would be a sudden surge in labour support against the Coalition Government which could see their seats decrease. If they however can sttrike a deal with the Green party and perhaps the TUSC (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition) they could benefit from the 'left of Labour' vote. (Current - 13 Councillors UK rank: 14th)

Liberal - The Liberal Party, a splinter from the birth of the Liberal Democrats, is one of the more successful small parties in council terms boasting 25 councillors at the moment. Although it doesn't sound huge it does put them ahead of UKIP (Second biggest Euro party and have two lord), the English Democrats, The Scottish Greens, (have 2 MSPs) Mebyon Kernow, The Libertarians and Respect (used to have an MP) to name a few. The Liberal Party are alos a prime candidate to take advantage of the anti-Libdem sentiment by offering a viable, non-Labour Liberal alternative. If they can organise a solid campaign they could look to gain a number of seats from the Liberal Democrats and perhaps encourage a few defections after the elections if the LibDems take a harsh beating from the electorate. They have had some dealings with the Alliance for Democracy, but it would only best wise to link up with other parties if they felt it would significantly boost their chance of winning seats as the Libdems are currently being punished for their own link-up with the Tories. (Current - 25 Councillors UK rank: 11th)

British National Party - The BNP, who are currently going through internal conflicts will be hoping to make some gains after taking a bit of a beating during the 2010 campaigns. For Nick Griffin whose current leadership and succession plans are under threat from internal factions will most likely hope to make some gains to show the party is still making ground but not enough to introduce to many possible contenders for his leadership, while he may be an MEP, a Euro-sceptic party may prefer to have their leader be the Leader of the Opposition on a local Council until they get enough votes to make it into the Commons.(Current - 55 Councillors UK rank 8th)

Green - The Green Party of England and Wales will be focused on Norwich and Norfolk where they have been slowly building a stronghold of votes and the Brighton and Hove City Council election where they are currently third on the council but where they elected their first MP. These local elections could be a chance to form some electoral pacts with other similarly inclined parties to help bolster a green-friendly bloc among councils. If the Greens fail to capitalise on the election of Caroline Lucas it will make her election seem more like a fluke in the eyes of the wider UK electorate. (Current - 122 councillors UK rank: 7th *does not include green parties of Ccotland and Northern Ireland)


For the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives this will be a defensive campaign, being in Government and being the ones to handle the deficit will no doubt make them unpopular with chunks of voters, if they can maintain control of what councils they have it will make supporting their agenda much easier on a local level. The Coalition may hope that any losses they do suffer will be to other parties rather than Labour so as stem a Labour revival with a wall of minor parties.


Who do you think will gain the most this year? any predictions at all? please leave them in the comments

Monday, 3 January 2011

Oldham East By Election - Party Analysis

On The 13th of January the first By-election since the Coalition Government was formed will take place.

10 Candidates have entered the fray and despite the usual media blackout on any party that isn't the big three, this is a by far a for gone conclusion. Articles in the Guardian already claim that all three big parties could be in for a slap from the electorate. But what would a win by any of the Candidates mean? (In no particular order in an effort for some level of fairness)

Stephen Morris - English Democrats - With the Mayoralty of Doncaster and a few local councillors under their belt, the English Democrats are (based on votes at the General election) 13th on what I like to think of as the UK league table. A win by the English Democrats would be a huge slap not only for the big three parties but also the Leaders of the big three as; 'Red Ed' would lose his first electoral clash in the Labour leadership, 'King-maker' Clegg would lose an election his party fought tooth and nail to get, and David Cameron (he hasn't got much of a nickname yet) would have to deal with the fact his soft campaign to get the Lib Dems in not only failed but allowed another party into the house. For the English Democrats themselves the PR boost alone in gaining the seat could propel their share of votes up in any upcoming election. They will have to consider how they operate within the house (something I touched upon here ) most likely joining the 'Celtic Bloc' of the SNP and Plaid will be good position for the English Democrats as it will make the Bloc (which will most likely have to be renamed) a more viable coalition partner as it removes the 'Anyone but England' aspect of the bloc when potentially forming a coalition.

Elwyn Watkins - Liberal Democrats - This by-election is crucial for 'King-maker' Clegg. A win will soothe Lib dem fears over their electoral future and help replenish some of the seats lost due to a polarisation of the vote in 2010. From a PR stand point the win will help Clegg sell his parties position as he will be able to point to the fact that his party are still winning seats and therefore have the backing of the public. As this is also the year of the AV referendum, Celtic Elections and English council elections a win now may help the Lib Dems maintain rather than lose their current seats status allowing them to ride out the current coalition till 2015 with more or less the same seats they started with.

Peter Allen - Green Party - For the Green party of England and Wales (Currently ranked 7th in my mind) Oldham offers the chance to prove that the election of Caroline Lucas in Brighton was not a one off and the win would help on the road to proving to the electorate that they are a credible alternative, not just in Westminster, but also in the Celtic Elections coming up in May. A second Green in the commons could be an argument for the Greens to back the Celtic Bloc in a similar way in that they back the SNP minority Government in Scotland, but unless the Greens could extract some sort of electoral arrangement in Scotland and Wales to help improve (and in the case of Wales, get) their seat share within the respective devolved bodies a deal is unlikely. From a PR stand point the election of another Green would help push more environmental policies showing that the public does think that the environment should be prioritised with the election of two Greens to the current parliament. And of course a similar sentiment for the big three as I mentioned in the English Democrat section.

Paul Nuttal MEP - UKIP - With two Lords and being the second biggest British party in the European Parliament (Currently ranked 4th by me) UKIP will be hoping that Oldham East is their door into the House of Commons. By putting forward an MEP, UKIP will perhaps be reminding the public that they are a credible party. If they win, the benefits will mostly be from PR, One MP in a Parliament that is shifting towards Coalition style politics is not a big asset but will, like all smaller parties help boost their chances for the devolved elections and allow them to build their representation outside of Brussels. One possible outcome could be that if UKIP make it into the Commons, they may attract some Tory defectors unhappy with the Coalition's direction towards Europe. (and again big three get a slap if UKIP win)

Kashif Ali - Conservative - Mr Ali occupies and unique position in this election, in that he is the candidate that no other party, including his own, wants to win. Should he manage to win despite a soft campaign from Conservative HQ to allow the Lib Dems to win, he will bring very few benefits to the party (in the grander scheme of things NOT in a personal sense)as the Lib Dems will take a huge hit to their morale and potentially lead to more problems for the Coalition. However is Kashif does win 'Red Ed' Miliband may find himself in trouble with a party that already has doubts about which brother they should have empowered.

Derek Adams - BNP - The BNP's two Euro seat win was a huge breakthrough for the party (they are also 5th in the Rankings) and they will hope that Oldham provides another. A win here, will in a similar sense to the Lib Dems, provide some internal ease for the party who has been going through some internal problems in regards to finance and Leadership along with similar benefits the other smaller parties would also gain from a win.

Debbie Abrahams - Labour - Labour (Currently number 2 in rankings) have a lot riding on the Oldham by-election. For 'Red Ed' it will provide a mark in the win column for his fledgling Leadership and help stave off any would-be coups that are already beginning to fester. It will also give them more ammunition in their battle against Coalition policies, especially the spending cuts and allow Labour to fan the flames in regards to Lib Dem electoral fears over their Union with the Conservatives. It will also be a comfort to party activists who may still be worried about their party's electoral chances in regards to the upcoming elections in that the public have shifted into a more anti-coalition mindset which may allow Labour to gain overall control of Wales and perhaps minority control of Scotland.

Loz Kaye - Pirate Party UK - The Pirates, who currently occupy 44th in the rankings are the legitimate outsider in this election, but by putting forward their leader and fighting in an election which has a lot of eyes focused on it, they will hopefully come out with a huge publicity boost that may translate into a few council or Celtic seats in the upcoming elections in May. A win by the Pirates would be a huge surprise and not to just the main three but also the more mid-field parties like the Greens, EngDems, UKIP and BNP and should the Pirates overtake any other party (except the joke parties) it will be a huge blow to that party to be beaten by a party which only fielded nine candidates in the General Election (English Democrats were the next lowest with 107 candidates) so as long as the Pirates stay ahead of the Monster raving loony party and the Bus Pass-Elvis party they cant lose.

David Bishop of the Bus-pass Elvis party and The Flying Brick of the Monster Raving Loony Party (Ranked 27th) are the joke parties and a win by them would most probably surprise them more than any of us.

While not every party is fighting to win (Conservatives and Joke parties) the final results table will be a benefit to some and a cost to others, a late PR Xmas pressie or a PR nightmare... Lovely way to kick of 2011