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A Celtic Pincer Movement?

Mark Devenport | 16:20 UK time, Thursday, 17 May 2007

Chatting over lunch the other today, a Westminster politician mused about the possibility of a future parliament, which is either hung or controlled by a party with a very slim majority. In such a scenario, wondered my contact, could the parties associated with devolved governments in Belfast, Edinburgh and Cardiff gang up on London to push for more powers, lower regional tax rates and so on?

Then today we have Ian Paisley's account of his congratulatory telephone call to Alex Salmond. Our First Minister pays tribute to his counterpart in Scotland as a clever man who pulled off a political "miracle". "There are things Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have in common" continues Dr Paisley "that if we go to the British Government in harness, we will get more out of them".

Add the DUP, SNP and Plaid Cymru Westminster teams together and you get 18 - a voting bloc not to be sniffed at. But if they play that game will they add to the numbers of English MPs, like a Tory I heard on Radio 5 yesterday, calling for non-English MPs to be excluded from votes on English issues and for the financial settlement underpinned by the "Barnett formula" to be re-written?

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 05:00 PM on 17 May 2007,
  • Adam wrote:

And how many MPs would it be if the Shinners took their seats :)

  • 2.
  • At 02:26 PM on 19 May 2007,
  • RJ wrote:

Stuff that. Why let the jocks and taffs hold us back? Is there any reason we can't be like the Isle of Man, or the Channel Islands, thereby increasing the chances of me being loaded?

  • 3.
  • At 06:08 PM on 20 May 2007,
  • Des McConaghy wrote:

Why not get rid of the Barnett formulae anyway - even its architect Lord Barnett said it was rubbish - or words to that effect. The troublesome fact is that in Northern Ireland there is just no coherent relationship between taxation and expenditure (except for local authorities with their tiny functions). When all the local services were centralised in 1972 there was no clear way of accounting for the cost of the centralised services and a hypothetical regional rate was struck. Since NI has been pretty well run by civil servants since ever since then this sort of basic absurity took hold and, when as I say added to the Barnett rubbish, there is no coherent relationship between taxation and spending (except for local councils). So that's quite a task for NI politicians! Of course they could just follow the hints from Whitehall and simply privatise the lot!

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