Friday, March 5, 2010

DUP to join SNP and Plaid Cymru in The Celtic Bloc?

Intriguing news:
SNP leaders were reported today to have started discussions with some of the UK’s other smaller parties in an attempt to take advantage of a hung parliament.

Senior Scottish Nationalists are understood to have been in talks with the Welsh Nationalists and are looking for similar negotiations with both the unionists and the nationalists in Northern Ireland.

The aim is simple: to form some sort of loose block of MPs to push for concessions from one of the two main parties in return for keeping that party in power.
I've mentioned the possibility of this before; from a nationalist (SNP, Plaid Cymru, SDLP) /regionalist (DUP) point of view it makes perfect sense:
On its own, none of the smaller parties would have the clout to influence a prospective government in this way but, as a block, the smaller parties might have 30or more MPs between them – a sizeable group in a tight parliament.
Bearing in mind what I said last night about how low the Conservative advantage has apparently dropped, that kind of number would make the Celtic Bloc effectively Kingmakers in the new parliament
But, with ten seats or so, which is what many analysts now expect the SNP to get, that opportunity to push for an independence referendum at Westminster may be slipping away.

The next best option is a ‘Celtic block’ of smaller parties pushing for concessions on issues relevant to them all.

That would not include a referendum on Scottish independence because the Ulster unionists would be unlikely to go into a deal if that was one of the conditions.
The "Ulster Unionists" here being the DUP as any UUP MPs elected would be taking the Conservative whip; the first two demands, I'm guessing the DUP would be more than comfortable with, they are also keen devolutionists so...:
Securing millions in extra funding in areas which the parties should be covered by the Barnett Formula, but which are not, likely spending increases as a result of the London Olympics and money for English prisons.

No major cuts to the block grants for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Transferring new powers to Holyrood over airguns, drink-driving and speeding limits, areas which could be devolved without any major revisions to the Scotland Act.

A commitment to enhanced powers for the Scottish Parliament in the next Westminster parliamentary session.
Do read the rest of the article, as I said at the beginning, intriguing stuff.

I wonder have the negotiations with the DUP begun?
Would they tell us if they had?

Certainly nothing on their website but a promise to maintain Northern Ireland's *special position* re stable or increased financing from the Central Exchequer is obviously much more than what either of the two main UK main parties are promising.

I suspect, however, if a deal is/has been done with the nats it will be one they'll be keeping very quiet about.

Final question, would they be joining the Celtic Bloc (as in the Eastern Bloc) or Celtic Block (as in "blocking" the UK parties)?


tony said...

As you may not be fully aware Oneil. Salmond is not the type of poly to have flies settling on him.

British Unionists may well get a shock for continually underestimating the leadership of the SNP.

I'm not sure how the D Unionist P is going to fit in with our people in Plaid and the SNP. They are beyond the pale in their support for 'Germanic Britishness' Can't imagine our culture guys with the DUP ones. Lol! In fact I'd pay money to be at the meeting.

O'Neill said...

"In fact I'd pay money to be at the meeting."

I think you'd be surprised; could be a closer meeting of minds than you'd think on economic and the "Perfidious Albion" issues than you'd expect. We're going to hear more on this I suspect, but not from me, off for a quick half. Enjoy the weekend.