Dual Mandate or Double Jobbing? They mean the same thing but one is much more perjorative than the other.
This means a person being a member of two legislative Assemblies at the same time…ie Westminster Parliament and the regional Assemblies in Scotland, Wales and Norn Iron. The leader of the Scottish Conservative Party, Douglas Ross is a member of the House of Commons and the Scottish Assembly.
The practice of Dual Mandate/Double Jobbing was discredited in Norn Iron and for some years now, it has only been possible to be a MLA (Member of Legislative Assembly at Stormont) OR a MP (Member of Parliament at Westminster).
In many ways it can be seen that Stormont is “minor league” and Westminster is the “major league” and often the case that ambitious politicians cut their teeth at Stormont before moving on to Westminster.
Of course, it is the voters themselves who make the real choices.
So why then would Brandon Lewis, Secretary of State for Norn Iron seek to introduce legislation to bring back the Dual Mandate. And to do so in time for the Assembly Elections in May this year, meaning that Westminster MPs could seek election to Stormont.
Double Jobbing, as the name suggests is unpopular. But not universally unpopular. A reasonable person might see it as a bit greedy. Or that a legislator cannot be part time in Belfast AND London.
Four of the five major parties…Sinn Féin, SDLP, Alliance and UUP have condemned the British proposal. DUP have welcomed it.
The official reason for the British decision is that it merely brings Norn Iron into line with the rest of the disUnitedKingdom. It creates a level playing field and all parties here are free to decide whether to stand a MP as a candidate in May.
As too often, the British are being disingenuous.
For a start, UUP are not represented at Westminster. So they are unaffected.
Sinn Féin have seven seats at Westminster but as abstentionists, they do not take an oath of allegiance and do not actually take up seats. They are effectively place-holders (and as I am fairly neutral on abstention) I see their point that the Mother of Parliaments is not all it claims to be. For SF, Westminster is largely irrelevant and with the exceptions of Chris Hazzard (South Down), Michelle Gildernew (Fermanagh-South Tyrone) and possibly Paul Maskey (West Belfast), they tend to show more contempt for Westminster by sending four second-raters to London.
In Sinn Féin terms, Stormont (and of course Dublin) is where the action is.
SDLP hold two seats at Westminster. Colum Eastwood (Foyle) and Claire Hanna (South Belfast). Both romped home in 2019, in part due to Claire reaching out beyond traditional nationalist support and SF withdrawing to support the leading anti Brexit candidate.
In five seat per constituency Colum might be a big enough hitter to bring in a third SDLP MLA. Claire might be a big enough hitter to bring in a running mate.
To be clear….this wont happen. SDLP has already picked three candidates in Foyle and two in South Belfast. And are optimistic that a seat can be gained.
Alliance has one Westminster seat (Stephen Farry in North Down) and has one of the five Assembly seats there. Farry might be a big enough hitter to help gain a targeted seat there. But s strongly against Dual Mandate/Double Jobbing.
To be clear to the voters of these parties, Dual Mandat/?Double Jobbing is discredited.
But the DUP. They hold eight seats but are in danger of losing their position as the biggest Assembly party and with it, the position of First Minister to Sinn Féin. The Party has been doing badly in opinion polls.
So it is tempting to repatriate Sammy Wilson (East Antrim), Ian Paisley (North Antrim), Gavin Robinson (East Belfast) and Gregory Campbell (East Derry) to head their Assembly ticket.
And “Sir” Jeffrey Donaldson…….now there’s a thing. A few months into his leadership of the DUP, he is the MP for Lagan Valley. Currently he would have to resign his seat and stand for Assembly if he is to become First (or Second) Minister. And the problem there is that DUP might lose that seat if the other parties rally behind the Alliance candidate, Sorcha Eastwood. Actually I think it is ONLY possible if other parties back Eastwood. She is certainly a firm believer in her own ability and threat.
Would DUP voters tolerate Double Jobbing?
Yes, they would. Partly because it might help them keep First Minister position. But also because many evangelical voters believe that Greed is actually an aspiration. Riches are a blessing. They have no shame about Money in the way that many voters in other parties do.
Of course, it is hardly a coincidence that the British government is doing something that obviously helps DUP….they have abandoned any pretence at being neutral in Norn Iron affairs.
Of course any DUP MP winning an Assembly seat can always resign and be replaced by a co-option.
Everyone (in the DUP at least) is a Winner.
I am looking forward to the condemnation of British policy on Slugger O’Toole.