Sunday, 1 February 2015

What's Sauce For The Stormont Goose....

With little over 3 months to the general election, the Conservatives have come up with an interesting poster:

The prospect of Sinn Féin suddenly deciding to swear the Oath of Allegiance to the Queen and taking their seats in the House of Commons to support Labour is a bit far-fetched, and it appears that recent Labour/Sinn Féin talks were simply over the peace process.

Surely Sinn Féin have other aims - the Irish general election has to be held within the next 14 months, and from the latest poll it appears that the only way the current Fine Gael/Labour coalition can remain in power would be to bring in Sinn Féin. In May 2016 there is the Northern Ireland Assembly election, where Sinn Féin would be aiming to become the largest party.

I would assume that Sinn Féin's intention would be to produce the Tánaiste (in the Republic of Ireland) and First Minister (in Northern Ireland) as well as there being meetings of the North-South Ministerial Council where a Sinn Féin minister from Dublin discusses a matter with their party colleague holding the equivalent Belfast post.

However, after seeing this poster, I wonder why shouldn't Sinn Féin be allowed to enter the Government if they take their seats? Or just come to a confidence-and-supply deal?

With a close election, things might come down to the Northern Ireland parties. Conservative member of the House of Lords (and former Ulster Unionist Party First Minister) David Trimble has suggested the Democratic Unionist Party may back Labour, while the Social Democratic & Labour Party leader Alasdair McDonnell has said:

If I was to make a prediction today, I would be predicting a Labour/SDLP - and remember SDLP, you heard it here first - Scottish Nationalist government,"

How Scottish Labour MPs who have lost their seat to the SNP would feel about a Labour/SDLP/SNP coalition is another matter!

Before anyone from a major party starts saying they wouldn't touch Sinn Féin with a bargepole, just remember in a hung Parliament there are two choices when it comes to Sinn Féin:

  1. Enter Government with them
  2. Don't enter Government with them

For the parties at Stormont, when a Northern Ireland Executive is formed, there are also two choices when it comes to Sinn Féin:

  1. Enter Government with them
  2. Don't enter Government

Sorry, but all major London-based parties have supported mandatory coalition in Stormont. You can't say you won't come to a deal with Sinn Féin when you have decided that the Northern Ireland parties have to if they want to sit in the Northern Ireland Executive.

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