Sunday, 11 June 2017

Minority Government Options

I understand the distaste in some quarters for a government to be supported by the DUP. But consider please what Scots would have to endure if Labour were to do a deal with the SNP. 63% of us have just voted against the SNP, sending a very clear message that we don't want another referendum. Would Labour give them one anyway in order to get into government?

So far as I understand it there is no threat of a CON + DUP coalition, the proposal is for a 'confidence & supply' arrangement. This does not involve importing DUP social policy into mainland Britain. Almost certainly, I should have thought, the price they will exact is a soft border with Eire after Brexit.

When eating with the devil, use a long spoon. Of the two deals with two devils likely to be on offer in the short term, I'm inclined to feel one of the alternative spoons needs to be substantially longer.

Fortunately the Northern Irish peace process has two referees not one. The role of the second referee is automatically strengthened when the NI Assembly is suspended and I suspect that any error by referee one would very speedily result in an appeal to referee two.

Secondly the price likely to be demanded by the DUP (see above) is not politically controversial in NI as far as I know. No-one is likely to complain if they extract this concession. Note that it is a big concession. If you must have agreement on the NI border then you cannot carry out any threat to walk away without a deal.

Thirdly, should anyone ask why Unionist Scots are afraid of another referendum given they should win it easily, I reply that no-one who did not experience the gut-wrenching unpleasantness of our last referendum can possibly understand. We are trying vainly to rebuild our community with the threat of another vitriolic campaign constantly hanging over our heads like the sword of Damocles.

Fourthly, as I've said before, referenda settle nothing. The losers never accept the democratic verdict and go on campaigning as though nothing had happened in the hope of wearing down the majority will by sheer importunity. Frankly I'm with Brenda from Bristol. We've had enough!

What we actually need is a grand coalition in which the two large parties come together for the duration of the Brexit talks and sort out a common British negotiating position.