The British General Election is a very odd thing. It has none of the old certainties. Nothing is straightforward in 2015. It is not just about 650 seats and a handful on the “celtic fringe”. It is about 650 different contests…more so than ever. Tactical and strategic voting to keep one party from winning …voters are being persuaded with “dont let Labour win this constituency” or “vote for us to keep the Tory out”, “dont let UKIP get elected”. No more so than in Nor. Iron of course where DUP and UUP have agreed an anti-nationalist pact in four of the eighteen constituencies.
I find tactical or strategic voting to be depressing. Few things devalue Politics more than basing a vote on animosity to one Political Party rather than actual positively endorsing a programme.
It looks like The British will have a curious 650 seat Parliament next month. Abstentionist Sinn Féin wont be there but there will be a lot of MPs who are tolerated rather than endorsed by their electorate. Certainly that will be the case in England. Scotland always had a four-party system (Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat and SNP). Wales to a lesser extent. And of course Norn Iron was ….semi detached and different.
The next Government will as alwaysbe formed by the Party Leader (David Cameron or Ed Miliband) who can command the support of the British House of Commons…650 members. Take out Sinn Féin and the “neutral” Speaker and aboutfifty members of the parliament of the “United Kingdom” actually want to see the “United Kingdom” dissolved.
Another twenty five or so seats will be held by the Liberal Democrats and maybe about twelve held by right wing extremists like UKIP or Norn Iron’s DUP.
All of this limits the possibility of Cameron and Miliband having an overall majority and makes a coalition difficult to form.
Most likely the Liberal Democrats will be the “kingmakers”. They will shamelessly serve in any Tory-led administration or Labour-led administration. Being in the “centre ground”, they have MPs who lean to the right and members who lean to the left. It is almost certain that half of their current Commons party will lose their seats…so any decision they make about coalition will heavily depend on who survives the expected cull. One casualty could well be Nick Clegg. So the “rump” will be making a decision about government against the background of their own (heavy) defeat. A Party led by Norman Lamb might reach a different decision to a Party led by Vince Cable.
Scottish Nationalists seem to be ruled out of coalition by a curious new constitutional device that they dont count. As Sinn Féin is lambasted for not taking seats at Westminster, SNP are lambasted for actually being there and playing a role in the Commons…up to and including voting for or against the “Queens Speech” (the programme for government).
In just about every economic argument, Labour and SNP are on the same side. SNP would not want to be in coalition with Labour. Much better to exercise indirect influence. Miliband has to publicly state that he wont be beholding to SNP …not least because he cannot desert his hapless Scottish colleagues before the election.
Yet Tory media insults….”Nicola Sturgeon is the most dangerous woman in Britain” and “SNP are toxic” …wont worry SNP. It is music to their ears.
Clearly the Tories dont think that the Lib Dems are “toxic” but the election campaign has shown up the bad blood between the two government parties. Looking to the “centre” for a coalition is one option. Looking to the “right” is another option.
UKIP are the only political party who are (semi-) articulating opposition to the European Union, Multi-Culturalism and Migration. They have been unable to find a way to make the case that is moderate, balanced and without deep-seated Jingoism, Racism and Xenophobia. UKIP have had a bad campaign, amateurs out of their depth and it does not seem that they will have enough seats in the new Commons to be in a Tory-led Coalition. But by any impartial observation, their views are more “toxic” than SNP.
It could be that the Westminster Establishment is now painting the Nationalism in the same way that the Stormont Establishment painted Nationlism.
But curious that DUP…the Party of Rev Ian Paisley is now touted as a coalition partner for the Conservatives.
Last night, in a hustings in South Down…Jim Wells, the DUP candidate and Minister for Health at Stormont opined that children in a same sex relationship are more likely to be abused or neglected than other children.
Understandably there is much comment here in Norn Iron. Wells himself and the DUP are in the odd ppsition of apologising for the offence caused as well as re-enforcing their core message about Homosexuality.
Had Nigel Farage or one of his amateurish UKIP colleagues said this there would be an outcry in the London Media. Jim Wells is no amateur. He is a senior politician and a Minister in the Executive. In fairness, one DUP MLA, Pam Cameron has publicly criticised Wells. But it is damage limitation all round. There should be much more scutiny of DUP …its homophobic and sectarian make up in the “British” National Media.
Lest we forget, TUV are to the right of the DUP. And the nominally more moderate UUP are actually in four election pacts with DUP. The simple fact is that the liberal unionist party, NI21 never got off the ground and the only (as I see them) unionist Party who have modern views on Homosexuality, is the Alliance Party.
The nationalist and republican Parties …SDLP and Sinn Féin support Gay Rights and Same Sex Marriage.
Ultimately this fundamentalist religious crap is bad for the future of Unionism. Not that I care.
But we miss the point with the Good Friday Agreement. Achieving a set of compromises between Unionism and Nationalism is certainly possible.
Reconciling the values of 2015 (republicanism-nationalism) with the values of 1950 (unionism) is impossible.
You could’nt put a cigarette paper between all the parties of unionism.It sickens me to hear commentators (especially freestaters describing the UUP as “moderate” and SF as”extreme”.Does anyone seriously think that Tom Elliot is any different from Jim Wells?
SF are extreme, look at the way they simply will not criticise or challenge anything what their lead Gerry Adams does, says, or denies. And we are talking about some terrible issues here. Members support him regardless. Giving the appearance of being modern on issues like marriage equality doesn’t really cut it when compared to all those sort of issues.
It’s actually remarkable that a member of the DUP broke ranks to criticise a senior member of her own party to a degree. Internal dissent is not something the DUP do, it is certainly not something SF allow
I have some sympathies for Jim Wells (not too much). As a society we are on a journey, which for me and what I understand of my Dad’s thinking started with Boy George on Top of the Pops attacking his safe ideas on sexuality and relationships. Many people are well behind SF’s and even the SDLP’s position. My kids aren’t even very rainbow friendly which points to the fact that they and the rest of us are a hetrosexual product. When it comes to families the arguments are complex and it is not just about family structure but also commodity culture with babies as a want rather than a gift of nature. As a society we draw lines, you can’t marry more than one partner, you can’t run about buck naked and at times as a society we will have to wait for others to catch up before ploughing further ahead. I’m not 100% up on what the detailed SDLP’s message is on this, I get the feeling it’s a bit muddled, I can’t see anything detailed online, from memory it’s a personal vote? I would say supporting gay rights and the concept of gay marriage is as far as they dare go.
Party policy is pro Equal Marriage. There was a short debate at the Conference about two years ago. Declan O’Loan was one of those who spoke against but it was effectively a gesture rather than anything divisive.
The older guys …Alban Magennis and I think Sean Rogers know that some things are inevitable.